In addition to value-creating CSR, we are also committed to carrying out socially beneficial activities in a steady, responsible manner, both within and outside of our business functions. These activities include initiatives the Group and its employees lead as well as support given to nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations.
Activities to help re-establish the fishing industry in Minamisanriku, a town in Miyagi Prefecture that was hit hard by the tsunami, have been part of Ricoh’s training program for new employees for three years now. These activities contribute to community rebuilding in the disaster area and also serve an educational purpose as new employees are able to gain a different perspective and learn a different skill while lending a helping hand.
In fiscal 2013, we divided a total of 224 people into two groups across nine places along the coast. Each group went to work alongside members of the local fishing industry for four days. Involved in the program now for three years, the fishermen look forward to the interaction with Ricoh’s new employees. There were many happy scenes, with one person remarking that “lots of the young folks willingly start up conversations with us.” Ricoh’s presence is really being felt here, and a bond of trust between the Company and the community has developed as a result. On the surface, the program is a way for new employees to experience support activities first-hand. But the true stars of the program, so to speak, are ultimately the local folks who benefit by Ricoh’s decision to play a role in the reconstruction process.
On August 6, 2011, the Ricoh Group and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation cohosted the Student Reconstruction Conference in Iwate Prefecture. Students explored the theme of community building as it applied to the reconstruction of their hometowns. The ideas the students produced were passed on to the Children's Community Building Club led by Save the Children Japan.
Ricoh is continuing to support the students in various ways, including printing their reports, brochures and survey results.
The Ricoh Group companies have held fairs showcasing the local products of three prefectures in the Tohoku region as required in their efforts to support reconstruction of local industries through product purchases.
Ricoh Japan has held fairs showcasing local products from the Tohoku region 18 times in the Metropolitan area. In addition, we held a Corporate Marche launched under the initiative of the Reconstruction Agency with the aim of helping disaster-affected companies strengthen their sales ability and product appeal. By making use of our intranet to enable employees across Japan who could not visit the Marche in person to buy products, we were able to extend company-wide reconstruction support.
Since August 2014, we have been donating a portion of sales to an organization that supports children who lost their parent(s) in the disaster in three affected prefectures.
In January 2014, Ricoh Leasing held the Tohoku Rebuilding Local Products Fair (Fukushima). An antenna shop of Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima Yaesu Tourism and Exchange Center supported the Fair, and the local mascot, Yae-tan, also brought much excitement to the event. The fair attracted not only company employees, but also other fellow workers in the building housing the headquarters. The fair was a huge success, and all of Fukushima’s specialties sold out quickly despite the large quantities that had been prepared.
From June 2011 to March 2012, Ricoh vehicles equipped with MFPs and PCs made regular rounds of temporary housing in areas damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake to print and copy municipal announcements, certificates and other documents.
This led to a close relationship with Higashimatsushima City in Miyagi Prefecture, which in turn evolved into the "Revitalizing Higashimatsushima as a Future City" program run in cooperation with the Higashimatsushima Organization for Progress and Economy, Education, Energy (HOPE).
Ricoh Japan Corporation, a sales subsidiary in Japan, is taking the lead in two facets of this progam, the School in the Forest, and assistance for senior citizens.
Since August 2013, two Ricoh employees have been involved in disaster reconstruction support activities as special staff of the city of Kamaishi, in Iwate Prefecture. They are members of the organization Kamaishi Satellite, which helps drive the Tohoku Future Creation Initiative, a cooperative, cross-sector effort encompassing industry, government, academia, and the public, with a mission to create a new future in the area destroyed by the great earthquake and devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011. Based in Kamaishi, the employees tackle two issues: developing young businesspeople on whose shoulders rest the future of the Kamaishi-Otsuchi region; and promoting concrete reconstruction plans for Kamaishi. Below, they talk about the local activities they have had a hand in so far.
A year ago, I was a total stranger here. I was so anxious and apprehensive about everything. But through our involvement in the first term of the Future Creation School, a program to develop the future leaders of Kamaishi, and the First Kamaishi Hyakunin Kaigi (Council of 100 People), which emphasizes increased participation by young people and the realization of citizen-led community building, we met lots of like-minded people who have talked about the future of Kamaishi with us. We now feel that our efforts here have meaning. We busy ourselves every day with preparations for the second term of the School and the Second Council to lay the cornerstone for the foundation of tomorrow’s Kamaishi.
It was the first-term graduation ceremony for the Future Creation School. At the graduation ceremony, the 10 graduating students—all keen to become local entrepreneurs—spoke in front of a huge crowd, including the mayor of Kamaishi. They each described a vision for the region and the business concept that they had fine-tuned with the help of their instructors to realize that vision. I was impressed by their business concepts, which were inspiring, pointing a path to the future. Hearing the students’ comments, I was very pleased to be working in this office.
The area devastated by disaster is in transition, moving out of the restoration phase and into the reconstruction phase. This shift will probably bring about a noticeable decrease in support and assistance from across the nation. The people here must realize it, too. Still, I feel it is important to reemphasize the idea that a community is cared for and developed by its people, so more citizens should take part in the process and ensure a future for Kamaishi and the rest of the area.
By the time I leave Kamaishi a year from now, it would be great if the cornerstone for the foundation of tomorrow’s Kamaishi were in place. The Future Creation School will continue, along with the Kamaishi Hyakunin Kaigi, and we will meet more people with great ideas for the future. These people need support to take that vital first step into business, and I hope we can create the necessary opportunities for promoting development toward their independence.