Sustainable and Ethical Business Practices for Japan

Trends / Sustainability
Yuri Endo
Jan 7, 2022
With the growing awareness for climate protection, consumers have shifted their attention toward responsible and ethical businesses. The key to identifying an ethical business is the extent to which its products and services have a positive impact on people, the environment, and animals at each stage of production and the product life cycle. This may sound obvious, but in fact, it is not easy for even the largest companies to meet all the requirements.
For example, does the company ensure that employees and contractors are given rights in line with international labor standards, rather than exploiting workers throughout the supply chain? Do they prohibit child labor and forced labor, and have policies and practices regarding worker safety, the right to join labor unions, and the payment of living wages? Does the company take into consideration the use of resources and energy, the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, the impact on water quality, and the safe use and disposal of chemicals during the entire development, manufacturing, and distribution process? Are they using materials that are cheap and convenient, but harmful to the earth, such as plastic and polyethylene? Are the products cruelty‑free, meaning they are not tested on animals? Do they use animal products?
The majority of consumers in Japan prefer to buy products and services from companies that respect human rights and have good labor practices at all stages of the supply chain.
Before the pandemic, most Japanese consumers believed that the way we treat our planet will have a major impact on our future but were unable to find concrete ways to lead a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle other than to recycle.   According to our latest Visual GPS research conducted after the pandemic, the majority of consumers in Japan prefer to buy products and services from companies that, in addition to being environmentally conscious, respect human rights and have good labor practices at all stages of the supply chain. They are aware that there is more than one issue within the ecological crisis. 

However, many respondents said that while they would like to choose environmentally friendly products, they tend to prioritize convenience and cost and do not know what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. The younger the respondents were, the more they tended to pursue convenience. It can be said that there is a dissonance between values and actual consumption trends.
For companies and media outlets looking to visualize responsible and ethical businesses, here are some insights to keep in mind.

Are you showing ethical business practices?
Are you showing how materials are sourced, products are manufactured, and delivered to consumers in an ethical and responsible manner that takes into account social and environmental concerns? Are you showing how products and services are produced in an environment that takes into account the well‑being of workers?

Are you showing support for the local community?
Amidst the Pandemic, the majority of consumers in Japan say that supporting local small
businesses is a priority. Buying locally can also help reduce your carbon footprint.

Are you showing the circular economy?
Unlike the conventional economic system of "take," "make," and "waste," in a circular economy, products and raw materials are regarded as "resources" and circulated without producing waste.

The Reuse Revolution