Sustainable Brands 2016 Tokyo Symposium In Search of Integrating
Sustainability & Branding

Lively discussions between business & industry professionals

Held in 12 cities worldwide, 24th February 2016 saw the first Sustainable Brands Symposium to be held in Japan. Sponsored by Hakuten Ltd, the sellout event overfilled the 300-seat hall. Presenters and attendees discussed open innovation by corporations, local communities and NPOs; CSR branding for B2B; and why sustainability lies at the heart of future brand success.

(Text by Setsu Mori, Editor, Alterna Magazine. Photos by Paulo Fukuchi & Yoshifumi Kawabata)

Held in 12 cities worldwide

San Diego-based Sustainable Life Media (SLM) has been running the Sustainable Brands Symposium since 2010. Previously held in San Diego, Boston, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Istanbul, Cape Town, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, on 24th February the Symposium came to Tokyo for the first time.

The morning consisted of two simultaneous panel discussions in adjoining rooms. The first session, ‘Open Innovation for Enterprise, Regional Administration, and NPO’, was facilitated by Professor Shigeki Aoki of the Faculty of Business Administration, Komazawa University. Panelists included Mr. Hayato Shimizu, Mayor of Saitama City; Ms. Yoko Takahashi, President, Japan Philanthropic Association; and Mr. Yoshihiko Yagyu, Adviser, Shodoshima Healthyland Co. Ltd. The second session, ‘Sustainable Branding for B2B’, was facilitated by Mr. Setsu Mori, Sustainable Brands Tokyo Producer & CEO, Alterna. The panel included Mr. Norio Masuda, Director of Strategic Branding and CSR Department, Brand and Communications, Hitachi,Ltd.Information & Telecommunication Systems Company; Ms. Kumiko Hori, Executive Director, Community Affairs, Diversity & Inclusion, UBS Securities Japan Co. Ltd.; and Mr. Osamu Nishimura , Manager, Sales Planning Department, Chuetsu Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd.

Keynotes and Panel Discussions

After lunch, from 13:15 Brand & Sustainability Consultant Dr. Sirikul Nui Laukaikul, Managing Partner Sustainable Brands / The Brandbeing Consultant Co. Ltd. gave a keynote address on ‘Why Sustainability is at the Heart of Future Successful Brands’. This was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Naoki Adachi, CEO, Response Ability, Inc. entitled ‘What is a Successful Brand? How Should Enterprise Take Action?’ Panelists included Dr. Nui Laukaikul, Professor Aoki, and Mr. Peter David Pedersen, Co-founder, E-Square Inc. / Co-founder, NELIS - Next Leaders' Initiative for Sustainability.

This was followed by a special keynote on ‘Enhancing Corporate Quality and Brand by Sustainability’ given by Mr. Toshio Arima, Board Member, United Nations Global Compact / Chairman of the Board, Global Compact Network Japan / Chairperson, Japan Platform /Executive Advisor, Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd. At the beginning of his presentation Mr. Aruma showed the audience a TV commercial produced in 1970 by Fuji Xerox, called ‘From Grind to Beauty’. He pointed out how Fuji Xerox’s definition of beauty and the ideas of sustainability currently under discussion are one and the same.

From 16:45, under the theme ‘Sustainable Brands: Case Studies of Japanese Enterprises’, three corporations gave presentations following a keynote presentation by the Navigator of this session, Professor Shinichi Takemura of Kyoto University of Art and Design, on ‘Tangible Earth’. The presenters included Mr. Kenzaburo Takahashi, Corporate Fellow, General Manager, Public Communications Dept, Ajinomoto Co. Inc.;Ms. Mina Kanda, Group Manager, Kaiteki Group, Corporate Strategy Office (General & Chemical), Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation; and Ms. Terumi Hanagata, Executive Manager, Social Enterprise Office, Recruit Holdings Co. Ltd.

US conference in June 2016

354 people attended this conference, exceeding the 300 seat capacity of the auditorium. The breakdown of attendees was 75% corporations, 8% NGO and NPO, and 7% students. Mr. Shinsuke Suzuki, a Director of the conference’s primary sponsor Hakuten enthusiastically summed up the conference by saying: “The fact that so many corporations, NGOs and NPOs have gathered here suggests the wider understanding of sustainability is deepening and growing. I’d like to keep up this momentum until our next opportunity to meet.”

In June 2016 Hakuten will attend the Sustainable Brands Conference in San Diego and is encouraging other Japanese corporate attendees and exhibitors to join them. They will hold this two-day conference in Japan annually every Spring from next year.

Exhibition of CSR actives by sponsoring corporations.
Networking reception after the sessions.

Corporate Sponsors


Leveraging the IT technology and infrastructure which it has developed over the years, the Hitachi Group’s Social Innovation Business meets challenges faced by its customers worldwide in the areas of energy, transport, water and healthcare. Hitachi believes that it is vital for all stakeholders - customers, authorities, local communities, NGOs, academic organisations and corporations - to work together to resolve the increasingly complex issues faced by society. The Hitachi Group will continue to contribute to the ‘active society’ with their expertise in global markets.


Ajinomoto contributes to the creation of a sustainable future with its world-leading amino acid and seasoning technologies. To promote babies’ health in Ghana, Ajinomoto has developed Koko+, an amino acid nutritional supplement to be added to Koko, a traditional weaning food. The Ajinomoto Group is committed to executing our group philosophy of creating better lives globally by contributing to significant advances in Food, and Health and by working for Life. Living by our motto ‘Eat Well, Live Well’, Ajinomoto continues to address social challenges and create economic


Daiwa Sakura Aid is a CSR project which we have been operating since 2008, with the Japanese cherry tree as its focus. Alongside local charity foundations, Daiwa employee volunteers run a sakura conservation project in the Yoshino Mountain area. In tandem, our Sakura Project carries out tree plantings accompanied by concerts using traditional Japanese instruments in primary schools and kindergartens all over Japan. Our aim is to preserve for future generations the Japanese culture, history, and tradition symbolised by sakura and its growing environment. On our 60th anniversary in April 2015 at our Yoshino Mountain project we carried out the ceremonial planting of a special White Mountain Cherry, raised from seed by Diawa House Group.


Our Global Sustainability Framework is called ‘Me, We, and the World’. ‘ME’ promotes individuals’ wellbeing and enjoyment; WE creates stronger communities; and the WORLD creates a better future and protects our environment. As part of our ME project Coca-cola carries out responsible marketing and displays calorie information on all of our products. ‘5 by 20’ is part of our WE project. Coca cola empowers women into business worldwide. In Japan our goal is to help 7500 women grow their businesses by 2020. Our WORLD project involves water conservation and sustainable sourcing of ingredients.


An integrated paper-manufacturing company, Chuetsu Pulp and Paper manufactures and sells Takegami paper made from 100% Japanese bamboo. One of our factories is located in Satuma-Kawachi City, a very active bamboo farming area. Disposing of unwanted felled bamboo was a huge problem in the area, and a Chuetsu employee came up with the idea of making paper from the waste bamboo. Now, some 20000 tonnes of bamboo is gathered from all over Japan to manufacture Takegami. The use of bamboo as a paper ingredient helps to conserve woodland and the natural environment, preserves biodiversity, and contributes to the local economy. Chuetsu has also developed and markets a paper called Satoyama Story, which is made from timber reclaimed from coppicing and other woodland management activities. Chuetsu donates part of its profit from Satoyama Story to forestry conservation. Chuetsu actively tries to make society better.


Ashisuto support the effective use of IT for corporations. We pursue sustainability from three points of view: 1. with customers; 2. with employees; and 3. with society. Because we are an independent company we are able to provide tailor-made solutions to our clients and our policy is to persevere until an optimal solution is found. We are proud of having achieved a 96% Customer Satisfaction Rating in 2014. To strengthen the bond between our employees and company we run Family Open Days and Dietary Education Trips for employees and their families. As a member of society we offer our company space to the organisers of traditional Summer Festivals for their portable shrines; we collect plastic bottle tops for recycling; and we raise funds for the Tohoku Earthquake disaster relief effort.


Our value creation concept is based upon ‘KAITEKI’: ‘a sustainable condition which is comfortable for people, society and the Earth, transcending time and generations’. This concept guides us as we use our chemistry expertise to meet social challenges by developing innovative and sustainable high-performance products, healthcare products, and new ethically sourced materials. In this way we strive to realise KAITEKI.


Fuji Xerox aims to gain the trust of all stakeholders under the principle that CSR is synonymous with sound corporate management. We have identified nine social challenges including the building of a disaster-proof society and to suppress climate change. We did this by categorising our stakeholders and identifying the most pressing challenge each group faces. We are fully committed to the UN Global Compact philosophy and our former President Mr. Arima is a Board Member of NY UN GC Headquarters and GC Network Japan.


Minna Denryoku is a Social Energy Company. We aspire to micro-generate energy locally for local consumption. Our green energy is generated by solar power installations in Setagaya Ward and supplied to local consumers including the ‘Setagaya Mono-dukuri School’ building where our office is based. Following the deregulation of the Japanese electricity supply market this April, Minna Denryoku is promoting a shift to sustainable electricity. Our company name means ‘electricity is for everyone’, and in accordance with this philosophy we run workshops about electricity for young women, and sell easily-carried portable solar power generators.

WHY Sustainable And Brands?

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz Sustainable Life Media CEO/Founder

Sustainable Brands® is the premier global community of brand innovators who are shaping the future of commerce worldwide.

Since 2006, our mission has been to inspire, engage and equip today’s business and brand innovators to prosper for the near and long term by leading the way to a better future. Digitally published news articles and issues-focused conversation topics, internationally-known conferences and regional events, a robust e-learning library, and peer-to-peer membership groups all facilitate community engagement throughout the year.