On 16 December 2021, UNU-IAS hosted the final session in a series of three webinars engaging companies to share and discuss their “purpose management” with university students from across Japan. The event was organised by UNU-IAS as part of its UNU SDG–Universities Platform (SDG–UP) and the UNU SDG Corporate Strategy Forum.
The session featured Yukihiro Nitta, the executive officer of FAST RETAILING CO., LTD. (FR), who spoke on the raison d’etre of his company. Mr Nitta explained that FR aimed to contribute to sustainable development by providing people around the world with good clothes, minimising the environmental impact of its business activities, and developing recycling-oriented products. FR has partnerships with various international organisations, including UNHCR, with whom the company has delivered over 46 million garments in 79 countries and regions. FR employees actively participate in the donation of clothes to refugee camps to gain on-the-ground experience. The company’s goals for 2025 are to further support refugees and vulnerable people, and to have all stores participate in community contribution activities. Mr Nitta emphasised that all employees should be aware of and implement FR’s mission to improve society through business.
Taikan Oki (Project Manager, SDG Corporate Strategy Forum; former Senior Vice-Rector, UNU) moderated the panel discussion. Takeshi Ito (Professor, Social Solution Initiative, Osaka University) noted that more companies were becoming agents of change, and that by implementing inclusive business practices they could improve society as a whole.
In closing, Prof. Ito encouraged students to work hard to make purpose management a rewarding experience, and Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS; Chair, SDG Universities Platform) urged them to have confidence in Japan’s well-developed higher education and actively participate in society. Mr Nitta emphasised that Japan’s youth should think independently and develop skills to take on global challenges. Prof. Oki concluded that the creativity and determination of young people would benefit Japan and the world.