Respect for Human Rights

In conducting business in the international community, the Sojitz Group promotes respect for human rights through supporting principles such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, ILO International Labour Standards, and United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Striving to further honor the CSR Focus Area of “Respect the human rights of people involved in our businesses,” we established the “Sojitz Group Human Rights Policy” in June 2017.

Sojitz Group Human Rights Policy

  1. 1.Our commitment to respect human rights
  2. The Sojitz Group strives to create value and prosperity by connecting the world with a spirit of integrity. We believe that respect for human rights is an integral foundation for creating what we call “Two Types of Value” —value for both our company and society — and for meeting the expectations of our stakeholders.

    As a general trading company, the Sojitz Group buys, sells, and trades goods from all over the world, provides manufacturing and sales services for a wide range of products, plans and coordinates various projects, invests in a multitude of business fields and conducts financial activities. In undertaking these business activities, we recognize our responsibility to avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts and to seek to prevent or mitigate adverse impacts to which we are directly linked. We commit to respecting human rights as set out in the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and to carry out our business in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

  3. 2.Our people
  4. The Sojitz Group - in accordance with international human rights standards as well as its Group Statement - is committed to promoting, among the executives, staff and employees of Sojitz Group, the prohibition of discrimination, respect for diversity (including with respect to race, nationality, ethnic origin, beliefs, gender, social status, religion, age, mental and physical disability, and sexual orientation), as well as responsible labor practices including prohibition of child or forced labor, prevention of corruption, provision of a safe labor environment, payment of minimum wage and ensuring appropriate working hours. The Group supports freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.

  5. 3.Conducting human rights due diligence
  6. The Sojitz Group is committed to assessing actual and potential adverse impacts on the human rights of our stakeholders in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We will strive to prevent, mitigate and account for adverse impacts. Where it is necessary to prioritize our actions, we will prioritize action to address the most salient potential risks to our stakeholders.

    The Sojitz Group shall comply with local laws and regulations in conducting its business activities. Where laws or regulations in a country conflict with international human rights norms, the Group will seek ways to honor international human rights standards. In making decisions on responses to be taken, we will seek opinions from credible third parties.

    The Sojitz Group recognizes the importance of dialogue with our employees, workers and external stakeholders who are or could potentially be affected by our actions, and we are committed to engaging in such dialogue with stakeholders on human rights issues related to our business.

  7. 4.Specific Issues
  8. Indigenous Peoples: When undertaking business activities in areas in which indigenous peoples reside, the Sojitz Group will acknowledge the unique culture and history of indigenous peoples and show consideration for their rights as set out in both local and national laws as well as in international standards such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention No. 169.

    Employment of security companies: To avoid complicity in human rights abuses committed by security providers, the Sojitz Group supports the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR), which guide companies in how to operate within a framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

  9. 5.Our Business Partners
  10. The business activities of the Sojitz Group are possible due to the cooperation of various stakeholders including suppliers and other business partners. For the Group to meet our responsibility to respect human rights, their understanding and cooperation are indispensable. The Sojitz Group is committed to working with and encouraging our business partners to uphold the principles in this Policy.

    In the event that we identify an alleged human rights abuse outside of the Sojitz Group but linked to our business activities, including in our suppliers and other business partners, upon confirming the situation the Group will ask relevant parties such as suppliers and other business partners to take measures to address the human rights issues.

    * For further information on our expectations of our suppliers and other business partners, including our policy concerning cases of material breach, see our Sojitz Group CSR Action Guidelines for Supply Chains.

 

Sharing the Policy

Activities in FY2017

In FY2017, we focused on establishing the Sojitz Group Human Rights Policy, revising the CSR Action Guidelines for Supply Chains, and sharing the Human Rights Policy with Sojitz Group companies and suppliers.

(1) Human Rights Risk Seminar
For the first phase of our work to share the newly established Human Rights Policy throughout Sojitz Group, we held a Human Rights Risk Seminar in October 2017, focusing on human rights due diligence. A total 78 people attended, comprising Sojitz Corporation COOs/General Managers and the presidents of 14 Sojitz Group companies.

The seminar aimed to foster awareness of human rights issues, to inspire greater efforts to address human rights in the future. We shared information on how human rights due diligence is becoming more and more of a factor in determining business competitiveness around the world, and we explained how alongside the growth of ESG investment, a company’s decision to conduct human rights due diligence has become another indicator by which investors assess corporate sustainability.

(2) e-learning
Every year, we provide Sojitz Group members* both in Japan and overseas with an e-learning program to foster understanding of sustainability within Sojitz Group.

* Employees and management of Sojitz Corporation, employees and management of 9 major Sojitz Group companies, and employees at overseas subsidiaries.

The second phase of our efforts to share the Sojitz Group Human Rights Policy during FY2017 involved a lecture for approximately 5,000 people, on the topic of human rights due diligence. We also required suppliers to read the Supply Chain CSR Handbook (see below) prior to taking the course, utilizing this opportunity to single out which suppliers to focus on starting from FY2018 and ready them for their human rights due diligence.

E-Learning from FY2015 – FY2017

Year
Topic
Participants
FY2015
Environmental & Social Risk
within the Supply Chain
5,020
FY2016
To Remain a Corporate Group Creating
“Two Types of Value”
4,718
FY2017
Response to Human Rights Risks
5,192

 

Risk Assessment

We conducted a CSR survey in order to better understand how Sojitz Group companies and suppliers are working to mitigate environmental and social (human rights) risks.

The survey questionnaire comprised 50 questions related to six of the focus areas (*) named in the Sojitz Group CSR Action Guidelines for Supply Chains. It was prepared to facilitate communication simultaneous with efforts to mitigate environmental risk factors which could easily develop into human rights risks. The content was made as broad as possible in order to facilitate communication regardless of to which diverse Sojitz industry the entity belongs.

* Human rights, workplace safety and sanitation, fair trade and anti-corruption, disclosure, product/service quality and safety control

The survey results were reported to our CSR Committee, discussed, and then reported to the Management Committee and the Board of Directors. The information was also utilized as the basis for selecting on-site inspection targets.

Activities in FY2017

Sojitz Group companies are a part of supply chains in a wide number of industries. For this CSR survey, we prioritized 38 total consolidated subsidiaries which we singled out as companies with whom our policies should be shared. The results showed that there were no issues requiring response to human rights infractions/labor issues, violations of environmental regulations, negative impact on ecosystems, or any other issues requiring immediate amendment.

Overview of other provisions regarding human rights

Sojitz Group Code of Conduct and Ethics

(See below for an abstract of provisions regarding human rights initiatives)

<Sojitz Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)>

  • Support the preservation of the global environment and the resolution of issues of poverty and violations of human rights;
  • Exercise and weigh fairness in our business activities, and oppose any illegal discrimination and intimidation of employees based on race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or any other basis prohibited by law;

<Positive Environment>

  • We endeavor to provide a positive work environment respectful of human rights and privacy. We also strive to foster a harassment-free workplace that is free of discrimination of any person based on race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, social status or any other characteristic protected by law.
  • Equal Employment Opportunities. Our policy is to provide equal employment opportunities to employees and candidates in compliance with the laws of each country in which we do business.
  • Labor Practices. We engage in fair labor practices and, in particular, we do not use forced or indentured child labor.
  • Mutual Respect. We are committed to fostering a work environment in which everyone is respected, and do not tolerate abuse of authority or harassment, which may include, without limitation, statements, e-mails, images, gestures or actions that are offensive, unwanted, intimidating, interfere with job performance, or cause unnecessary discomfort, humiliation or harm to another.

Click here for the full text of the Sojitz Group Code of Conduct and Ethicspdf

Promoting CSR within the Supply Chain

(See below for an abstract of provisions regarding human rights initiatives)

The Sojitz Group’s business activities are underpinned by collaboration with business partners in diverse countries and regions as well as within various industries. The Sojitz Group strives to promote CSR initiatives in the supply chain as we conduct our business in this diverse context.

Our Expectations: In order to conduct responsible business, incorporating respect for the human rights of stakeholders and protection of the environment, the Sojitz Group asks its suppliers to understand and implement the following items as it strives, with them, to do business in harmony with society and the environment.

  • 1.Respect for the human rights of employees, and treatment of employees in a humane manner.
  • 2.Prevention of forced labor, child labor, and the observance of appropriate labor hours and minimum wage.
  • 3.Non-discrimination in hiring and employment.
  • 4.Respect for employees’ freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining to ensure constructive negotiations between labor and management.
  • 5.Provision of a safe, sanitary and healthy work environment for employees.
  • 6.Observance of all relevant laws and regulations, ensuring fair transactions and prevention of corruption.
  • 7.Ensuring the quality and safety of products and services.
  • 8.Consideration for ecosystems, the environment, and environmental conservation within our business activities, as well as efforts to prevent environmental pollution.
  • 9.Timely and appropriate disclosure of information regarding the above items.

 

<Cases of Material Breach>
n the event of a material breach of the Action Guidelines, the Sojitz Group shall, upon verifying the facts, request that the supplier or other business partner improve the situation. If no improvement has been made after a specified period, we will take measures which may include a reconsideration of the contract with the supplier or partner. If necessary, the Sojitz Group shall, along with experts designated by the Group, visit the site concerned for investigation.

 

Click here for the full text of the Sojitz Group CSR Action Guidelines for Supply Chains

Anti-Corruption and Bribery

Acts of bribery, in particular in developing nations, undermine the proper function of legal regulations; lead to corruption within the society as a whole; exacerbate issues relating to the environment, labor, and human rights; and can become an obstruction to local economic development. We consider the implementation of anticorruption measures an indispensable component of Sojitz’s initiatives to respect human rights.

Sojitz formulated anticorruption rules in 2012 and set out methods for preventing corruption in 2013. Anticorruption initiatives have been implemented throughout the Group.

Sojitz Corporation is member of TRACE International, the world's leading anti-bribery standard setting organization. We initially completed a TRACEcertification due diligence review in November 2015 and received the TRACE Certificate, underscoring Sojitz Corporation’s commitment to transparency and integrity in international commercial transactions. The membership and TraceCertification is updated annually.

TRACE Certification

CSR Focus Areas

In 2016, the Sojitz Group outlined “CSR Focus Areas,” designating respect for human rights as an area of focus.

(See below for an abstract of provisions regarding human rights initiatives)

「Respect the human rights of people involved in our businesses」

Sojitz respects the human rights of people involved in its businesses. This applies not only to Sojitz employees, but also to everyone affected by its businesses throughout its supply chains. Should there be any instances of child labor or forced labor, we will rectify them.

Click here for the full text of CSR Focus Areas.

The United Nations Global Compact

(See below for an abstract of provisions regarding human rights initiatives)

In agreement with the Ten Principles on human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption, Sojitz joined the United Nations Global Compact in 2009.

 -The United Nations Global Compact's Ten Principles

 [Human Rights]

Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

Click here for the full text of the United Nations Global Compact’s Ten Principles.

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