On October 5, 2021 the Global Index 2021 was launched in Japan through an online event co-hosted by ATNI, Nomura Asset Management and ESG consultancy firm Neural Inc. The event was supported by the Japanese Sustainable Investment Forum (JSIF).

The event saw a wide variety of stakeholders, including company representatives, government officials, academics, institutional investors and members of trade associations, gather together to discuss the findings of the Global Index 2021 and to reflect on how they are relevant to the Japanese market as well as to Japanese companies assessed in the benchmark.

The event kicked off with a presentation by ATNI Executive Director Inge Kauer on the key Index findings, with particular reference to the performance of the three Japanese companies assessed – namely Ajinomoto, Meiji and Suntory. Some of these were found to have progressed significantly since the previous iteration of the Global Index, in 2018. Meiji, for instance, rose 5 places in the ranking from 2018 to 2021 and Ajinomoto made significant improvements, such as the development of a Nutrient Profiling Model to assess healthiness of their products. All three companies, however, are encouraged to further step up their efforts to tackle the global malnutrition crisis.

After this introduction, company representatives were invited to join a panel facilitated by JSIF Board Member Arisa Kishigami to outline how they:

  • Measure the impact of the company’s efforts to improve diets and nutrition among consumers and communities;
  • View support from other stakeholders, such as investors and government bodies, to help further their actions; and
  • Might consider taking on board ATNI recommendations to improve their nutrition efforts.

The ATNI team was interested to hear the responses of Mr. Nishii, President of the Ajinomoto Group, and Mr. Furuta, Chief Sustainability Officer at Meiji, who both outlined some of the challenges as well as opportunities for their respective companies in promoting healthier diets locally as well as globally. One of the key points emerging from the discussion concerns the need to adopt a wholistic approach to improving nutrition, which looks at ways in which companies can promote healthier diets, alongside producing healthier products.

Both panelists outlined that the harmonization of international nutrition standards in Japan would require efforts by the Government of Japan as well.

These remarks were echoed by Dr Fukushima Yasumasa, Vice-Minister for Health, Chief Medical and Global Health Officer, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan, who briefly introduced a newly established Expert Panel which will see industry, academia and government bodies jointly tackling the country’s main nutrition challenges (i.e., excessive salt intake, thinness in young women and existing nutritional inequalities derived from socio-economic disparities).

The event continued with a multi-stakeholder panel with the following speakers:

  • Ryuji Yamaguchi , Executive Director, Nutrition Japan Public Private Platform (NJPPP);
  • Miyao Takashi, ESG Specialist, Nomura Asset Management;
  • Shoichiro Tsugane, Director General at National Institute of Health and Nutrition; and
  • Takeshi Matsukawa, The Consumer Goods Forum General Manager, Japan & Asia-Pacific Region.

A wide variety of views were shared, which helped to put the findings of the Global Index 2021 in the context of the nutrition and health challenges faced by Japan as well as the unique food environment and culture of Japan, which, as several speakers outlined, relies less heavily on packaged products compared to other countries and regions.

Further, in the panel, Mr. Takashi outlined the approach of institutional investors to SDG2 Zero Hunger and SDG3 Good Health and Wellbeing. Nutrition is part of Nomura Asset Management’s impact investing strategy, which focuses on global companies and aims to foster economic prosperity as well as to contribute to the resolution of environmental and social issues. Nomura Asset Management indeed signed the Investor Expectations on Nutrition Diets and Health in 2021, and has since been taking an active role in the collaborative investor engagement with the 20 publicly listed companies in Global Index 2021 facilitated by ATNI.

The Investor Expectations on Nutrition, Diets and Health were translated in Japanese in October 2021 and were also publicly launched during this event.

Investor Expectations in Japanese

The event was concluded with a remark by Keiko Okada , Deputy Assistant Minister/ Deputy Director-General, International Cooperation Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Ms. Okada outlined the importance of the private sector in creating healthier food environments and discussed opportunities for the private sector, along with civil society, governments and a wide range of stakeholders, to make bold new commitments at the upcoming Tokyo Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit.

The N4G Summit is taking place on 7-8 December this year and ATNI will be involved in a number of official side events, which will be posted on our social media platforms as well as our website.

The recording of the Global Index 2021 Japanese Launch Event is available both in English and in Japanese:

Event Recording in English

Event Recording in Japanese

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