TOKYO (ILO News) - Japan Business Federation (Keidanren), International Labour Organization (ILO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) cohosted a symposium "Responsible Business Conduct - How should Japanese companies engage with their supply chain in Asia? -" to member companies of Keidanren on 15 October 2018 in Tokyo. The purpose of this event was to raise awareness of issues regarding business and human rights in the supply chains of Japanese companies in Asia. This symposium was the first joint event by the three organizations, Keidanren, ILO and OECD in Japan, which focused on initiatives led by Keidanren and Japanese companies with respect to business and human rights and also introduced the launch of a joint project "Responsible supply chains in Asia" by European Union (EU), ILO and OECD.
Following the opening remarks addressing "Keidanren's Initiatives to deliver on SDGs - Society 5.0 for SDGs -" by Mr. Masaya Futamiya from Keidanren, Ms. Githa Roelans from Multinational Enterprises and Enterprises Engagement Units, Enterprises Department of ILO gave a presentation regarding "Promoting responsible business through decent work - ILO engagement with Japanese business".
In this presentation, she explained the reason why socially responsible practices are important in today's economy and the relationship between decent work and sustainable enterprises by focusing on historical efforts to stimulate decent work in business operations. The significance of policy coherence as well as the relevance of the private sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also emphasized. Then, she presented the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declaration) by highlighting different roles and responsibilities among governments, multinational and national enterprises and social partners. Also, she illustrated how other guidance instruments, such as UN guiding principles, refer to ILO MNE Declaration while introducing the function of ILO Helpdesk for business. The last part of the presentation featured how ILO has been engaging with business around the world and with Keidanren in Japan as well as ILO's project funded by the Government of Japan in collaboration with Japanese electronics businesses operating in Vietnam by appreciating efforts made by Japanese companies.
Ms. Cristina Tébar Less then introduced OECD's activities by addressing "Responsible business of Japanese companies and their supply chains" followed by Mr. Youzou Nakao from Ajinomoto and Mr. Tsuyoshi Naruoka from Fujitsu presenting with their challenges and efforts with respect to business and human rights in supply chains.
Mr. Masao Seki from Keidanren then further deepened the discussion through panel discussion with the above speakers excluding Mr. Futamiya by asking both Japanese companies and international organizations what are the challenges faced by Japanese businesses to conduct socially responsible practices in supply chains and how their efforts can be aligned with internationally recognized standards. Through the discussion, the importance of information sharing and communication was highlighted along with the crucial role of government and employers' associations such as Keidanren to tackle common challenges among companies.