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The Hitachi Global Foundation was launched in April 2015 by merging the five foundations of the Hitachi Group. Chairman of the Hitachi Global Foundation and former President of Hitachi, Ltd. from 2009 through 2014, Takashi Kawamura, talks about the history behind the merger and the position, role and future of the foundation looking forward.※This interview was conducted in September 2016.
The 20th Century can be seen as an age of mass production, mass consumption and mass destruction. In line with the rapid development and growth following the end of the war, Japan faced a range of social issues, including falling behind other nations in terms of technological advancement, pollution and the rise of the nuclear family. In order to offer a solution to these issues, Hitachi launched several corporate foundations, all with different objectives, five of which continued to play an active role.
Now, here we are in the 21st Century, touted as being the century of the environment and life, and we are faced with a new set of problems, such as issues related to energy and water resources, food, security and disparity between the rich and the poor. And we cannot forget the range of issues specific to Japan, including our low birth rate coupled with an aging population and economic disparity among the different regions of Japan.
In other words, the social paradigm is being turned on its head. Shouldn’t our corporate foundations and their activities change to respond to such changes in the social landscape? How should we respond to such a range of ever-changing social issues over the medium and long term? How should we go about creating a corporate foundation unique to Hitachi that will continue to pass on our past achievements and resources and that is also congruent with the times? Following much debate, it was decided to merge our existing five foundations to create one “Hitachi Global Foundation”. This marked the start of a new beginning with one aim and perspective as we look towards creating a society for the future.
Within the circles of the Hitachi Group, we believe that “earning capacity” is linked to social contribution. Each company under the Hitachi Group umbrella harness this “economic earning capacity” to create added value and give something back to society. Further, “innovation” and “business development” provide future generations with sustainable prosperity while “employment capacity” provides people with security, job satisfaction and independence, driving further social stability and development. Reinforcing the “earning capacity” of each our group companies in turn increases our capacity to give back to society.
On the other hand, it is difficult to respond to modern-day social issues, such as social disparity, energy, poverty and the environment with a focus solely on earnings. Social contribution based on commercial activities almost always comes with restraints and limitations. In order to break through the barrier of such commercial activities, it is necessary to build a social business framework to respond extensively and comprehensively to a range of issues. It is our ultimate aim to achieve a delicate balance between a “corporate Hitachi”, a corporation that gives back to society as a for-profit organization and “social Hitachi”, one that is focused on social activities in order to respond to the social issues of this century of life and the environment. The role of the Hitachi Global Foundation is to play our role as part of a “social Hitachi”.
The Hitachi Global Foundation shares a vision with the Hitachi Group and aims to generate synergy between the two through activities that harness our respective strengths with the objective of enhancing our ability to work towards solving social issues. By taking charge of business activities geared towards social issues that are difficult for individual group companies to address on their own, it is possible to sustain contribution activities over the medium and long term. Further, we have established a mid-term business plan that spans the same period as Hitachi and by applying the PDCA cycle are enhancing its viability.
These three ideals form the spirit underlying the foundation of Hitachi and this has been passed down by the founder of Hitachi, Namihei Odaira, to generations of Hitachi employees. “Sincerity” refers to taking the initiative as an individual to act honestly and forms the foundation for gaining social credibility and integrity. “Harmony” means to cooperate and work together as a team. “Pioneering spirit” refers to our spirit to remain pioneers in our field of expertise and to challenge the limits of our ability and use novel and creative approaches to explore new areas. These values have been passed down through the years since the inception of Hitachi to the present day and the same can be said for the Hitachi Global Foundation. Times will change and our business structure evolve; however, the spirit that forms our foundation, one that is shared among the entire Hitachi Group, remains the same.
The Hitachi Global Foundation is returning to these values of “harmony”, “sincerity” and “pioneering spirit” as we look to work together with a range of stakeholders, including members of the Hitachi Group, government, local communities, customers and NGO/NPOs to play our role in the mission of social innovation as advocated by Hitachi.
We look forward to your continued cooperation and support of the Hitachi Global Foundation