Comments from Thought Leaders

Comments are made on the basis of information publicly available as of September 2019.

Kaori Kuroda

Kaori Kuroda

Executive Director, CSO Network Japan (served until September 30, 2019)

In July 2018, Toray publicly announced its vision for the future, “The World as Envisioned by the Toray Group in 2050,” seeking to address the shared global challenges set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement. Characteristically, Toray is using this vision as the starting point for backcasting as it pursues four initiatives to make a contribution with its innovative technologies and advanced materials.

Also in the Toray Group Sustainability Vision, Toray set out various quantitative targets that are to be attained by fiscal 2030. This vision is being promoted and linked with the medium-term management program, Project AP-G 2019, and also the Sixth CSR Road Map, which was formulated in line with CSR Guidelines, both of which were launched in 2017.

As last year, this year’s report gives a status report on the CSR Road Map, based on the ten items of the CSR Guidelines. I would like to focus my comments on the two following points in particular.

Contributing Solutions to Social Issues through Business Activities

The Green Innovation Business Expansion Project and the Life Innovation Business Expansion Project are both key growth areas identified under Project AP-G 2019, and both of these have been showing robust performance. In terms of Green Innovation, there has also been a definite increase in CO2 emissions avoided by using Toray Group products. Furthermore, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as part of measures to mitigate climate change, Toray has consistently achieved its target of maintaining greenhouse gas emissions at least 15% lower than the 1990 level through 2020. Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which calls for greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to zero by the middle of this century, various measures to fight global warming have been accelerated. I expect the Toray Group to make further efforts in this field.

Supply Chain

It is increasingly important to ensure the promotion of CSR throughout the supply chain, including respect for human rights. The cumulative number of business partners that Toray Group companies have requested to practice CSR rose from 3,170 in fiscal 2017 to 5,294 in fiscal 2018. In addition, the number of group companies that have requested their suppliers to practice CSR has reached 150, in line with targets. For business partners that require further investigation concerning actual business practices, improvements are being made with the implementation of on-site surveys, including visits and interviews. Going forward, I hope that, with the cooperation of stakeholders, further efforts will be made to conduct impact assessments and engage in continuous monitoring.

Kaori Kuroda
Profile (as of September 30, 2019)

Executive Director, CSO Network Japan.
Following a career in the private sector, Kaori Kuroda worked for the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at the Columbia University School of Business and The Asia Foundation Japan Office, before joining CSO Network Japan in 2004. From 2007 to 2011 Kuroda was involved in developing the ISO 26000 guidance on social responsibility, representing the views of Japanese NGOs. She is also a member of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Promotion Roundtable Meeting, a former President of Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs (serving as Advisor since July 2019), and a Board member of the Japan Society for International Development (JASID). She has a master’s degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Education.

Takeshi Shimotaya

Takeshi Shimotaya

Executive Director
The Global Alliance for Sustainable Supply Chain (ASSC)

The Toray Group Policy for Human Rights was adopted in December 2017, following the principles set out in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. It is critical that all employees maintain respect for human rights with a solid understanding of the concepts of human rights that are shared around the world, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all human beings are born free and equal and upholds the right to pursue happiness. It is similarly important for human rights to be practiced in corporate activities, and necessary to provide education to raise awareness across the Group about policies on human rights. The Sixth CSR Road Map includes key performance indicators (KPIs) on implementing human rights education and training, however this applies only to Toray Group companies in Japan. As a next step, it will therefore be necessary to follow-up with KPIs that includes the implementation of education and training that will result in Toray’s approach to human rights being shared with group companies outside Japan, as well.
Internationally, it is the case that governments and companies are advancing human rights initiatives based predominantly on the United Nations Guiding Principles. Many countries in Europe have issued their own action plans on human rights and companies are expected to implement human rights due diligence to prevent or mitigate actual or potential risks of human rights infringements in their business activities. Various laws that oblige companies to report on such processes are also being formulated by individual countries, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, and the implementation of such laws and processes cannot be delayed any further. In Japan, the foreign technical intern training program for workers from other countries has been criticized overseas as a form of modern slavery, and confirmation of the actual status is required, including in the supply chain. In addition, the Guiding Principles call for the establishment of an effective grievance mechanism, including for those people who may be directly and indirectly affected by corporate activities, whether it be in relation to stakeholders or in the supply chain.
Although Toray Group has developed structures to promote human rights in Japan and overseas, and can respond via its helpline and other means to any internal reports of human rights violations, the next step for the Group should be to respond to these international developments and move to engage in human rights due diligence and construct a grievance mechanism based on the Guiding Principles.

Takeshi Shimotaya

Takeshi Shimotaya held responsibilities in various areas with a heavy industries enterprise, including HR, general affairs, and health and safety. As the key person in charge of occupational health and safety, he compiled health and safety management principles and designed and implemented an occupational health and safety internal audit system. He was then involved in the launch of a new company engaged in an environment-related business, before moving to the United Kingdom in July 2007. In the UK, he received an MSc from the University of East Anglia in environmental studies, and an MBA from the University of Lancaster. He has been participating in the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights since 2013. He is dedicated to promoting corporate efforts to raise awareness of the UK Modern Slavery Act and resolve supply chain-related issues.

Takeshi Mizuguchi

Takeshi Mizuguchi

Professor, Faculty of Economics
Takasaki City University of Economics

Expectations for True Solutions

I would like to express my respect for Toray Group’s efforts over the course of many years to pioneer new business fields using its own unique technologies. The Group’s conviction that materials can change lives is introduced in the Toray Group Sustainability Vision, and the phrase “power of materials” is used to describe this in the Japanese version. This phrase resonates very strongly with me. The world needs the power of materials more than ever today, given the grave, unprecedented challenges that humanity faces.
Without materials, any products—clothing, homes or transportation equipment—cannot be produced, and of course, the production of materials takes energy. At the same time, however, according to the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 2018, average global temperatures have already increased by 1 °C. It seems that torrential rains, floods and other climate disasters now occur almost every year. If an increase of a 1 °C affects our lives this harshly, it is absolutely imperative that we keep the increase under 1.5 °C. That is why by around 2050 the world must effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero. The question is: what kind of materials can meet this global imperative?
Meanwhile, marine plastics are also posing a challenge to ecosystems. Although bioplastics and biodegradable plastics could be the answer, if production using plant-based materials results in the destruction of forests this would further aggravate global warming. Moreover, the impact of climate change is causing the water cycle to change on a global scale, bringing with it the possibility that water shortages could affect agricultural production. We need a solution for this incredibly complex simultaneous equation with many factors—from materials production, to energy, plant-based materials, forest conservation, and the water cycle—and it could well be found in the power of materials.
On this point, Toray Group has identified “Value Creation” among the themes of its CSR Guidelines and has set the quantitative target of achieving sales of 900 billion yen in Green Innovation businesses. Given that total consolidated sales in fiscal 2018 amounted to 2,380 billion yen, this is an extremely ambitious target. Toray has already achieved many results. It is my hope and expectation that these results will be developed into true solutions for social systems that will be capable of comprehensively resolving the complex challenges I have just described.

Takeshi Mizuguchi

Graduated from Tsukuba University in 1984 and earned a doctorate in economics from Meiji University. After working at a trading company and at an auditing firm, in 1997 he became a lecturer at the Faculty of Economics of Takasaki City University of Economics, and was appointed professor in 2008. His primary fields of research include responsible investment and the disclosure of non-financial information. He has served as the chair of the Green Bond Review Committee, and as a member of the High Level Meeting on ESG Finance, both of which are bodies under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan. His major publications include ESG Investment: A new form of capitalism (Nikkei Publishing Inc.), Responsible Investment: Changing the future with capital flows (Iwanami Shoten, Publishers), and The Era of Sustainable Finance: ESG/SDGs and the bond markets (author and editor, Kinzai).