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Yohei Sasakawa
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The Nippon Foundation Stepping Up Partnership with United Nations in Nurturing Professionals to Tackle Ocean Issues (1) [2021年06月29日(Tue)]
Since its establishment in 1962, The Nippon Foundation has undertaken various human resource capacity-building programs in developing and developed countries.

To mention just a few, it has provided scholarships for advanced education of deaf and hard-of-hearing persons and those with visual impairment as well as for students at agricultural universities in Africa and elsewhere. We built schools to educate prosthetics and orthotics (P&O) professionals in Southeast Asian countries where many people have lost limbs after coming into contact with landmines used in internal conflicts. The Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture (SICSA), a research and design organization we established at the University of Houston 35 years ago, has produced four astronauts.

But this blog focuses on the foundation’s partnership with the United Nations in nurturing professionals to tackle ocean and marine issues that are now recognized as one of the world’s most pressing challenges.

In a webinar on May 19, I agreed with U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares to redouble our efforts to cultivate professionals to address ocean issues. To date, 182 fellows from 82 countries have completed the training programs under our partnership with the U.N. I am proud to say that most of them are now back in their home countries, hard at work on finding solutions to the issues facing the oceans.

Our initiatives are administered primarily with the U.N. Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) in New York, which serves as the secretariat for the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and consist of the following four programs:

(A)  The United Nations-Nippon Foundation Fellowship

This fellowship provides advanced training and research opportunities in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea and related disciplines, including marine science in support of policy and management frameworks, to government officials and other mid-level ocean professionals from developing states. It aims to provide the necessary knowledge and skills to assist developing states in formulating comprehensive ocean policies, and in implementing UNCLOS and related instruments. The program lasts nine months and is structured into two phases:

1. Three months of training on ocean affairs and the law of the sea and research on an agreed topic at UNDOALOS.

2. Six months at one of 48 participating academic institutions in 24 countries, where fellows are able to conduct supervised research and prepare a thesis on their topic.

(To be continued)
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 15:56 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
It’s Japan’s International Commitment to Host Tokyo Olympic, Paralympic Games This Summer (2) [2021年06月24日(Thu)]
▼Opportunity to Confirm the Spirit of Global Unity

In a February 25 post titled “No Way Will Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics Be Cancelled This Summer,” I called for holding the games despite the pandemic because I believe they would become the most fitting opportunity for the international community to confirm the need to work together to conquer COVID-19.

Up to now, there have been more than 178 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide with the death toll exceeding 3.8 million. By comparison, the Spanish flu pandemic from 1918 to 1920 infected 500 million people−about a third of the world's population at the time−with the death toll typically estimated to have been somewhere between 20 million and 50 million.

In the modern world where millions of people travel across borders daily, it is extremely difficult to prevent a fresh wave of infections from spreading to many parts of the globe even though one or two countries successfully stem the spread of the coronavirus.

I believe it will become possible to conquer COVID-19 only if countries work together effectively in exchanging information and developing and sharing vaccines.

During a video summit hosted by Japan on June 2, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged an additional $800 million to the COVAX vaccine-sharing plan, expanding efforts to make COVID-19 shots more available to people in poorer nations. The move, I believe, forms part of Tokyo’s efforts to build up burgeoning international unity in fighting COVID-19.

Hosting the Olympics and Paralympics aims to create and boost that spirit of global unity. I hope the Japanese government and organizers will redouble their efforts to get on with the preparations in a positive and resolute manner.

The long-drawn-out pandemic has had a heavy impact on people’s lives and the economies of virtually all countries. Hardest hit have been persons with disabilities and women. It is difficult to overcome the coronavirus without international unity and cooperation−all the more so when national-populist and protectionist sentiments appear to be on the rise in many countries.

Most of the athletes as well as journalists, officials and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated and follow complex testing rules in their home countries before departing for Tokyo, where they will continue to be subjected to strict protocols.

They must also agree to have their location monitored by GPS (global positioning system), download several apps, sign a pledge to follow the rules, maintain social distancing, stay off public transportation for the first 14 days and keep organizers informed of their whereabouts.

These measures are expected to be used as reference for other countries to beef up their battle against COVID-19. Besides, under the influence of global warming, the world could be hit by new pandemics of unknown infectious diseases in the future. Holding the Olympics and Paralympics amid the pandemic reminds us of the need to prepare for such crises to come.

To make the events a symbol of humanity’s resilience in overcoming the pandemic, the central and Tokyo governments, the Tokyo Organizing Committee, sponsors and all other stakeholders must work together as hard as possible. If the games turn out to be a success, they will hold a unique place in the history of the Olympics and Paralympics.

▼Sports Cheering Up People and Society

Sports know no limits in their power to cheer up people and society.

The Olympic torch relay started on March 25 in Fukushima Prefecture in northeastern Japan with Japan's women's national soccer team, or Nadeshiko Japan. The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 games chose Fukushima as the starting point of the flame’s 121-day journey to highlight the region’s recovery from the 2011 triple disaster--the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis. From there, the journey is progressing, though on a limited scale in some prefectures, with about 10,000 runners carrying the torch through Japan’s 47 prefectures in a show of unity.

Even though not all fans can be in the stadiums, they will be moved and inspired by the spectacular performances of world-class athletes, who I salute for training so hard for the Olympics and Paralympics during the long-drawn-out pandemic.

It is my hope that once the games begin, heartwarming and stirring news stories from Tokyo will bring encouragement to people around the world and that through hosting the games, Japan’s position in the international community will be further boosted.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:00 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
It’s Japan’s International Commitment to Host Tokyo Olympic, Paralympic Games This Summer (1) [2021年06月23日(Wed)]
On June 1, Australia's women's softball team became the first international athletes to arrive in Japan for the Olympic Games scheduled to start on July 23 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The team is to be followed by about 15,000 athletes, who will compete in both the Olympics and Paralympics, as well as some 53,000 journalists, sponsors, officials and staff visiting Japan for the events.

▼Great Significance of Hosting Olympic, Paralympic Games

Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics by promising to hold the games in a safe and secure manner with the spirit of omotenashi, or selfless hospitality. Many countries that have undergone or are currently battling much more serious COVID-19 infections than Japan are sending athletes in the belief that the host nation will live up to its promise.

Polls show that people in Japan are divided over whether the games should be held this summer, with a persistent call for cancelling or further postponing the events. They were originally slated for the summer of 2020, but delayed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But what is important now is not to discuss whether or not to hold the games, but to redouble our efforts to realize a safe and secure Olympics and Paralympics. That is a responsibility of a host nation and how we should express our gratitude to the countries that supported Tokyo’s bid to host the events.

At the same time, the games held amid the pandemic will be an important opportunity to demonstrate global unity in battling COVID-19, putting the Tokyo events in an unprecedented position in the history of Olympic and Paralympic Games.

▼G7 Leaders Support Holding the Tokyo Games

The leaders of the Group of Seven countries issued a joint communique at the end of their meeting on June 13 in Cornwall, the United Kingdom, reiterating their “support for the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner as a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19.”

U.S. President Joe Biden at his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga prior to the G7 meeting said that he “affirmed his support for the Tokyo Olympic Games moving forward with all public health measures necessary to protect athletes, staff and spectators,” according to the White House.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Mr. Suga that he is looking forward to attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, said the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The Japanese prime minister lifted the COVID-19 state of emergency covering Tokyo and eight other prefectures on June 20 as the curve of new cases has flattened, but the capital and six other prefectures will stay under a “quasi-emergency” state until July 11, keeping some curbs such as on restaurant hours.

▼More Compact Games Than Originally Planned

Foreign spectators are banned from attending the Games. Following so-called Five Party talks online on June 21 between the central government, the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the Tokyo Organizing Committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo Games minister Tamayo Marukawa announced that attendance during the Olympic games will be capped at 10,000 per venue or 50% of the venue capacity−whichever figure is lower.

Prior to this announcement, Prime Minister Suga didn’t rule out banning spectators to ensure safety and security. “If a state of emergency is declared, that is a possibility,” he said.

The Olympic and Paralympic games will be less showy and more compact than they were projected when the IOC voted in 2013 to choose Tokyo as the host of the 2020 games. But given the circumstances, it is much more important and significant to host the events this summer than in normal times.

(To be continued)
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:36 | FORGING GLOBAL TIES | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Presents Star-Studded Music Video Featuring 13 International Differently-Abled Artists [2021年06月17日(Thu)]
The latest True Colors Festival music video has been released worldwide, bringing together a cast of 13 artists from nine countries for a new take on the R&B classic You Gotta Be by Ms. Des’ree.

The Nippon Foundation has released a music video bringing together a star-studded cast of 13 differently-abled artists from nine countries for a new take on the R&B classic You Gotta Be by Ms. Des’ree.

This is the latest in a series of performing arts events presented by the foundation’s True Colors Festival (TCF) across geographies, in celebration of diversity and inclusion as “One World, One Family.”

Performing from their respective home countries, the artists include Ms. Mandy Harvey, an American deaf singer-songwriter whose performance on “America’s Got Talent” earned Simon Cowell’s Golden Buzzer; Grammy nominee Mr. Raul Midón also of the United States, who devoted his life to music after being told that blindness would make it impossible; Mr. Kenta Kambara, an accomplished aerial performer and dancer from Japan who performed in the Rio 2016 Paralympics closing ceremony and hopes to participate in the next Games opening ceremony in Tokyo this summer; Mr. Signmark, the world’s best known deaf rapper from Finland and a global champion for the promotion of sign language; and Ms. Alienette Coldfire of the Philippines, who placed third in “France’s Got Talent”.

Ms. Des’ree commented: “This is a truly powerful video−so invigorating and energizing, elevating the sentiment of the song and its message. The artists’ introductions at the end add even deeper resonance to their already inspiring performances.”

The music video was directed and produced in Singapore by creative and music director Dr. Sydney Tan and video director Jasper Tan. Dr. Tan noted: “All of us, regardless of who and where we are, wake up and start our days and have the opportunity to listen and look up, to participate in choices and be fully human. We have the ability, whatever our circumstances and our geography, to experience and celebrate the ordinary yet wonderful moments that life unfolds.”

The technical process of producing this music video involved countless WhatsApp, Messenger, and Zoom calls, monitoring the time across time zones, and using Google Translate in real time to communicate across different languages−all in addition to the process of piecing together the audio and video performances across the globe.

“The real challenge, though, was to develop a relationship with each artist, such that trust and freedom would allow them to perform and be themselves, with their spirit and energy coming through in a real and palpable way,” added Dr. Tan.

In full agreement, Ms. Mandy Harvey said: “Even though we haven’t met in person…you can feel that every person put their heart into the entire process. Being a part of this team is another reinforcement to me that what’s within you is so much stronger than the barriers we face. This is a reminder to reach farther and dream bigger. My hope is that people are encouraged to try!”

According to Mr.Ichiro Kabasawa, Executive Director of The Nippon Foundation, presenter of True Colors Festival: “People everywhere have been going through such a prolonged period of uncertainty, isolation and fear. We chose this classic, You Gotta Be for everyone, everywhere at this time, to realize the potential in ourselves; to choose to be bolder, stronger, wiser, whatever each day may bring. It’s a reminder that when it comes down to it, we’re all human, living together in our one world.”

I might add that this TCF music video comes with options that make it widely accessible, including closed captions, audio description, and an accompanying video transcript.

You Gotta Be is a gentle encouragement as we deal with circumstances, to start each day listening, and looking up. I am sure you will be inspired by this video which also shows what the lives of these artists are like amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please watch You Gotta Be:

You can visit the special site of True Colors Festival here.
80% of Japanese Youths Find It Hard to Understand Preamble to the Constitution: The Nippon Foundation Poll (2) [2021年06月14日(Mon)]
Why do more than 80% of young people in Japan feel it is hard to understand the preamble to the Constitution of Japan. I believe one reason is that as pointed out by many observers, the charter was drafted in effect by GHQ (the General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers) shortly after the war, making it look like the product of translation with many sentences long and hard to understand. This was indicated in comments by some young Japanese polled, such as: “The wording of the preamble was difficult and it was hard to understand what it means as a whole” and “Sentences are too long.”

Of all respondents, 31.3% said the preamble should clearly mention Japanese values like history, traditions and culture, while 27.1% said it should not and 41.8% said they do not know.

Of those who said it should, notable opinions expressed were that the preamble should show Japan “in the shape of a democratic state with the Emperor as a symbol of national unity” (27.0%) and that it should specify “the philosophy of harmony and importance of family and home” (22.2%).

The constitution was promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into effect on May 3, 1947. It comprises the preamble, 11 chapters and 103 articles. It has remained unamended for more than seven decades now.

Any constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of both houses of the Diet (Parliament) and a majority in a national referendum. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has long pushed for amending the war-renouncing Article 9 to settle the status of Japan's Self-Defense Forces, along with other changes.

I have proposed that the constitution be “altered,” reflecting changes in society over time. It is the people who should think this over and decide. I believe the key is to make it more understandable and acceptable to the people by softening the tone of the messages and that is why I suggested we should use the word “alter” the constitution.

Above all, I hope the young people, who play a critical role in shaping the future of the country, will be more interested in the constitution as their own issue and think deeply about whether it should stay as it is or be altered.

Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 09:14 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
80% of Japanese Youths Find It Hard to Understand Preamble to the Constitution: The Nippon Foundation Poll (1) [2021年06月10日(Thu)]
Have you read, or do you have a recollection of having read the preamble to the Constitution of Japan?

There are stronger calls than before in Japan for debating whether to revise the country’s postwar constitution. One reason is the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted more people to advocate adding an emergency clause to the charter that would grant the government expanded powers when necessary.

In contrast with some European and other countries that have constitutional or legislative grounds to impose binding restrictions on the activities of individual citizens and businesses, Japan has seen COVID-19 expose the limits on the government's ability to respond to an emergency.

To examine how Japanese youths look at the issue, The Nippon Foundation conducted a nationwide online survey on the “Preamble to the Constitution” for five days from April 15, covering 1,000 people aged between 17 and 19. The preamble sets forth the underlying principles of the constitution, notably pacifism, popular sovereignty, the guarantee of fundamental human rights, representative democracy and internationalism.

Asked whether they have read the preamble, respondents were equally divided at 40.1% between those who have either read it or have a recollection of having read it and those who have not. The remaining 19.8% said they do not remember. Of those who have, more than half (55.9%) did so when they were in junior high school, followed by high school (28.9%) and elementary school (13.2%).

In response to a question as to whether the preamble was easy to understand, less than 20% (17.0%) said it was, while more than 80% (83.0%) said that it was either difficult to understand (48.6%) or there were points that they could not understand (34.4%).

The curriculum guidelines set by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology call for sixth graders and students of junior and senior high schools to take up the constitution in social studies classes.

This means the respondents of the survey studied the constitution not so long ago. I felt the survey showed young people in Japan are not familiar with the details of the constitution, raising anew the question of how the supreme law should be taught at Japanese schools.

(To be continued)

Did you consider the preamble to the Constitution of Japan to be easy to understand?
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 14:57 | A FUTURE FOR YOUTH | URL | comment(0)
Good Luck to 32 New Sasakawa Fellows at World Maritime University in Sweden [2021年06月08日(Tue)]
Ocean issues, along with climate change, have now become recognized as global challenges.

Since 1988, The Nippon Foundation has supported students mainly from developing countries to study at World Maritime University (WMU) in Malmö in southern Sweden by offering scholarships for a 14-month master’s degree course in maritime and ocean affairs.

Since WMU was established in 1983 as a center of excellence for maritime postgraduate education, research and training, the faculty has been enhanced, the curriculum has been enriched, and WMU has grown in prestige within the global maritime industry, attracting top students from around the world.

To date, our scholarship program has generated 669 fellows from 77 countries. We are very proud that some of them are now playing active roles in their home countries and elsewhere as executive officers of maritime administrative agencies and presidents of maritime universities. They are also actively networking with other Sasakawa fellows under the auspices of the Ocean Policy Research Institute (OPRI) of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

For the 2021-22 academic year starting in September, we have selected 32 new fellows from 27 countries after careful and strict vetting. They are from Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Comoros, Ecuador, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Tanzania, and Venezuela.

The new fellows are expected to gather at an entrance ceremony at WMU in September. Winter, as you might expect, is dark and cold across most of Sweden. The sun rises at around 10 a.m. and sets at 3 p.m; there are only a few hours of daylight. I am always impressed by how quickly the Sasakawa fellows adapt to their new surroundings, studying intensely while living away from their families.

I wish them all the best in their new life at WMU!
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:48 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
The Nippon Foundation Sponsors Seminar to Promote “Zero Emission Ships” [2021年06月03日(Thu)]
Participants in a panel discussion on the development of hydrogen-fueled vessels during a seminar on “zero emission ships” held at The Nippon Foundation in Tokyo on May 18, 2021. Some attended the session in person, while more than 700 others took part online.

The Nippon Foundation has sponsored a seminar to promote the development of “zero emission ships” that emit no carbon dioxide (CO2) or other greenhouse gases. These ships are expected to play a major role in Japan’s efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero on a net basis to become a carbon-neutral society by 2050.

Supported by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), the May 18 seminar attracted participants from shipping, shipbuilding and other companies and organizations across the country, with several dozen people attending in person and more than 700 others online, reflecting the keen interest in and strong commitment to contributing to the decarbonization of the maritime industry.

In my opening remarks, I stated: “Development of zero emission inland ships will spearhead innovation on a global scale. By mobilizing many future-oriented people who can reorient the existing values, let’s push ahead with the innovation.”

Mr. Naoki Fujii, MLIT vice minister for transport and international affairs, noted that at a time when Japan and the rest of the world are racing to achieve carbon neutrality to fight climate change, it was most fitting to hold a seminar on zero emission ships−and especially on the use of hydrogen to power them.

The first session focused on challenges facing the promotion of hydrogen-fueled ships, especially the need to set up schemes for providing subsidies to small businesses engaged in research and development of hydrogen vessels and the advisability of introducing a carbon tax to be levied on carbon emissions by the maritime industry to finance emission-free ship projects.

In the second session, Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, managing director of The Nippon Foundation, presented the foundation’s scenario envisaging progress in the use of next-generation fuels to power inland ships in 2050.

For the time being, he said, Japan’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships will depend mainly on the existing technologies and infrastructure, including LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) cells and batteries. Over the medium term, however, hydrogen and ammonia will play a significant role−and especially hydrogen.

Seen as the ultimate green fuel, hydrogen only emits water during combustion and would account for some 55% of all alternative fuels to power inland ships in Japan in 2050, followed by batteries (about 38%) and ammonia (about 7%), according to the scenario.

If progress is made in the use of hydrogen and other alternative fuels as envisioned, Mr. Unno said, the economic benefits gained by the nation’s shipping and shipbuilding industries in 2050 are expected to total approximately 2,300 billion yen (about $20.9 billion).

The participants also discussed the current state of research and development of zero emission ships, schemes and incentives for putting those vessels into actual service, nurturing human resources and what they would like the government to do to help develop zero emission vessels.

If we are to help Japan to become a carbon-neutral country by 2050, it is essential to start designing and developing hydrogen and other zero emission ships now, because ships built today will stay on the water for decades, given the long lifetime of modern vessels (typically 25 to 35 years).

I was greatly impressed by the participants’ strong commitment and dedicated effort. The foundation is determined to support the nation’s fledgling fleet of zero emission ships for decades to come.

“Let’s push ahead with the innovation,” I urged participants in my opening remarks.

Mr. Naoki Fujii, vice minister for transport and international affairs, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).

Mr. Mitsuyuki Unno, managing director of The Nippon Foundation, presents the foundation’s scenario envisaging the makeup of next-generation fuels powering inland ships in Japan in 2050.

Hydrogen is expected to account for some 55% of all alternative fuels used by inland ships in 2050.
Posted by Y.Sasakawa at 10:23 | OCEAN | URL | comment(0)
“The Valuable 500” Marks Milestone of Having 500 Global CEOs Committed to Disability Business Inclusion [2021年06月01日(Tue)]

The Valuable 500 logo

“The Valuable 500” business network, which is supported by The Nippon Foundation, has reached a milestone of having CEOs of 500 companies from 36 countries committed to including persons with disabilities in business through access to jobs, products and services.

The global initiative will now move on to the next phase of its campaign, in which the 500 firms will work together to promote product development backed by surveys on the needs of consumers with disabilities, the creation of metrics for measuring the degree of inclusion of persons with disabilities at companies, and the creation of an easily accessible portal site for hiring. It also aims to hold symposiums and other events to facilitate collaboration among international institutions and participating companies.

Ms. Caroline Casey, an Irish social entrepreneur and founder of The Valuable 500, said it was wonderful to have “hit our goal of having 500 global companies on board and committed to tackling disability inclusion on their board agendas.”

Commenting on this milestone, I said: “I hope that by bringing the new perspective of business to issues related to persons with disabilities, this initiative by a network of 500 global companies will move us closer to an inclusive society for everyone.”

In January this year, The Nippon Foundation announced its decision to join The Valuable 500 as a “Global Impact Partner” by providing support totaling $5 million over three years from 2021−the biggest-ever single investment into disability business inclusion.

Launched by Ms. Casey in January 2019 at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the platform is a network of CEOs now representing 500 global companies created to promote reforms that will enable persons with disabilities to demonstrate their potential social, business and economic value. The initiative is chaired by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman and is being supported by noted global business leaders including Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Accenture CEO Julie Sweet.

The Valuable 500 membership includes 44 Fortune 500 companies, and 44 included in the FTSE 100, the blue-chip index on the London Stock Exchange. Well-known names include Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, BBC, BP, Daimler, Intel, Mastercard, Microsoft and P&G.

Among 50 member companies from Japan are ANA, Japan Airlines, Fast Retailing, NEC, Sega Sammy Holdings, Softbank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Sompo Group, Sony, Dentsu, Hitachi and Seiko.

The number of persons with disabilities around the globe is estimated at 1 billion, accounting for about 15% of the world’s total population, according to the United Nations and the World Bank.

The purchasing power of these persons, their families and friends is said to total $13 trillion, a market bigger than China, said the 2020 Global Economics of Disability report by the Return on Disability Group. However, the report also said the percentage of companies offering products that take persons with disabilities into account is extremely low at only 3.6%.

According to a statement released by the Valuable 500, there are no executives or senior managers who have disclosed a disability in company reporting by the FTSE 100, while only 12% report on the total number of their employees who are disclosed as having a disability.

In Japan, companies are legally required to hire a certain percentage of employees with disabilities (2.3% for companies with a workforce of 43.5 or more, with each part-timer counted as 0.5) and progress is being made toward disclosing information on their employment.

Nevertheless, there are no frameworks under which companies can share this information and knowledge, and progress still needs to be made in creating an environment that allows employees with disabilities to demonstrate their full potential.

The statistics shown above indicate that only a small minority of business entities worldwide are actively tackling and addressing disability inclusion. No doubt there is plenty of room for improvement. I sincerely hope that the 500 global companies will work together to lead by example and transform the business system for disability inclusion to better serve the 1 billion persons with disabilities and lead us toward a truly inclusive world.

Ms. Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500

In my message to mark the 500-company milestone, I said: “This initiative by a network of 500 global companies will move us closer to an inclusive society for everyone.”