Representative Director and President Hitoshi Kawahara

Representative Director and President
Hitoshi Kawahara

The role of corporations in the creation of a sustainable society is increasing day by day. In keeping with its mission, “For people and the planet—to achieve what no one else can,” the Kuraray Group has developed businesses that contribute to enhancing the natural environment and people’s quality of life. Today, however, we are again called to present and implement concrete solutions to the world issues.

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we are facing. Continuing on from Japan last year, there was a change of administration in the United States. The country returned to the Paris Agreement as soon as the new administration took power, and declared carbon neutrality in 2050, bringing the world in step. In addition, countries and regions worldwide are promoting green recovery as a stimulus measure for economic stagnation caused by the spread of COVID-19 and are announcing decarbonization measures one after another.

Anticipating long-term changes in the business environment, the Kuraray Group actively discusses what it should do during the next Medium-Term Management Plan and what to do next, with a focus on the aforementioned “Sustainability Workshop” comprised of global members with different job descriptions and diverse experience and perspectives.

Measures against climate change focus on both risks and opportunities. We are considering ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in-house and expand products and businesses that contribute to reductions. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of our own production activities through environmentally friendly processes, we have also vowed to reduce the environmental impact both in our customers’ production processes and at the stage when customers’ products are distributed and used as final products. In the next Medium-Term Management Plan, we will set more detailed quantitative targets for these initiatives and strive to achieve them. As for the expansion of products and businesses that contribute to reducing GHG emissions, we are preparing business plans and development plans based on material issues (important issues related to the Company among those that society desires to resolve). All division general managers in Japan and overseas took part in revising these in fiscal 2019.

These efforts cannot be achieved by the Kuraray Group alone. Working together with suppliers and users through the supply chain to pursue business activities that contribute to a circular economy will lead to climate change measures and solving the problem of microplastics and ocean plastics. In the next Medium-Term Management Plan, we will comprehensively grasp the issues facing chemical manufacturers then plan and implement solutions.

The Company endorsed the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) in November 2020. In the future, we will continue to improve the disclosure of governance, scenario analysis-based strategies, risk management, metrics, and targets included in the TCFD recommendations. In fiscal 2021, we will establish a TCFD promotion team in relevant departments to assess the importance of climate-related risks and evaluate climate-related risks and opportunities for key businesses.

The Kuraray Group has more than 11,000 employees worldwide. For the Group to achieve sustainable growth, it is essential to bring together the wisdom of employees and create new innovations. In fiscal 2020, we revised the Kuraray Group Global Human Resource (HR) Policy so that diverse human resources of different nationalities and backgrounds can maximize their potential. Under the next Medium-Term Management Plan, we will build a global system to secure and develop human resources to support the sustainable growth of the Kuraray Group based on our medium- to long-term strategy. The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we work. After establishing what we believe is and is not possible under the new ways of working, we plan to develop a system that makes full use of its advantages and ensures that we’re properly evaluating the results. We aim to achieve a balance between productivity and ease of working. We will do our best to ensure that all Kuraray Group employees can contribute to the realization of a sustainable society in a safe and secure workplace and a dynamic and creative enterprise.

The fire that broke out at the EVAL™ plant of Kuraray America, Inc. in May 2018 caused great concern among stakeholders. In order to prevent such an accident from occurring again, keeping in mind that “Safety is the cornerstone of everything we do,” we have been reviewing and strengthening safety measures by conducting safety inspections of major chemical plants outside Japan under the Head Office’s leadership since fiscal 2019. In fiscal 2020, we continued to conduct safety inspections at two plants in Europe and two plants in the United States and confirmed the improvement status of the issues identified in fiscal 2019 and identified new matters. In fiscal 2021, in addition to addressing these issues, we will work on enhancing facilities regarding safety at our plants and on aspects like the management system, the review and improvement of manuals, and the enhancement of employee education and on-the job training.

In response to past violations of the Antimonopoly Act, the Company has positioned compliance as one of its top management priorities. We have made every effort to implement various measures to prevent the recurrence of similar violations. In fiscal 2020, in order to establish an effective global system for compliance with the Antimonopoly Act, we prepared relevant regulations, provided education and training to officers and employees, assessed risks for each business, and audited bid participation projects for Kuraray Group companies around the world. From fiscal 2021 onward, the entire Kuraray Group will steadily implement the Antimonopoly Act Compliance Program to ensure thorough compliance with the Antimonopoly Act. In addition, we will continue to build a safe workplace by raising the compliance awareness of all employees.

The Kuraray Group strives to continue to be an “indispensable corporate group” that society loves and needs. Through our pillar of incorporating new foundational platforms into our own technologies, we work to create value alongside community members by solving social and environmental problems through our business technologies.

Hitoshi Kawahara