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Finding Local Solutions to Local Challenges: Contributing to Communities the Otsuka Group Way

Images credit: Otsuka

Pinpoint specific local issues. Promote sustainable local development. Pave the way for caring and productive corporate growth. That’s how Japan’s Otsuka group of companies seeks to shape its role as an essential company for society.

Founded in 1921 as Tokushima Prefecture, a chemical raw materials manufacturer in Naruto, today the Otsuka group offers a broad range of products and services, including pharmaceutical products, and functional food and drink. The company established a philosophy of “Otsuka-people creating new products for better health worldwide” as its factory research laboratory philosophy. The Otsuka group later adopted this sentiment as its overall corporate philosophy and the core of its business activities. Under that corporate philosophy, innovation is at the core of its business; it leverages this know-how through its work on a variety of sustainability issues for the betterment of all in society, which focus on five key areas of CSR: Health, Environment, Quality, Culture and Employees. Having proactively expanded the company’s global operations in the 1970s, today the group operates 180 companies in 28 countries and regions, employing approximately 45,000 staff worldwide. That extensive global operation means the group is perfectly positioned to offer focused local community support, as illustrated in these two initiatives in the cultural sphere.

Community-rooted SATU HATI projects in Indonesia

The May 2006 Central Java earthquake in Indonesia caused huge damage throughout the area. P.T. Amerta Indah Otsuka (AIO), a group company based in Indonesia, donated funds to rebuild damaged schools and hosted charity concerts to attract support from broader society. The initiatives captured the attention of the Indonesian government and media, who then cooperated with Otsuka to launch a charitable organization in 2007 called the SATU HATI Cerdaskan Bangsa (“One Heart to Educate the Nation”). Generous donations collected through these activities were initially spent on books for primary schools across Indonesia, then on constructing libraries. To date, the charity has donated over 124,000 books and built 28 libraries. In the immediate aftermath of the 2006 quake, medical supplies, food and water were the most important forms of aid. However, long-term support that helps citizens become independent is the key to regional reconstruction. The SATU HATI Program epitomizes this support in action.

Educational support for children in Indonesia is expanding. AIO’s Kejayan factory in East Java set up a regional education center on the factory grounds and runs the SATU HATI School, which teaches science and math to Grade 5 elementary school students, once a week. Factory employees tutor local school kids after school and work.

The SATU HATI Program has spread beyond education and philanthropy. The SATU HATI Peduli Lingkungan (“One Heart Cares for the Environment”) program, designed to boost environmental awareness among local people, is involved in planting trees near sources of water used in product manufacture, beach cleanup and forestry regeneration in urban areas. SATU HATI Sehatkan Bangsa (“One Heart to a Healthier Nation”) conducts education for local families to convey the importance of hygienic, sanitary living environments; and supports a Mom & Child Clinic.

Otsuka Welfare Clinic for Afghan refugees

As many as 1.8 million refugees have swarmed over the border from Afghanistan to Pakistan since 2001, only to find themselves facing tough conditions in refugee camps in the border town of Peshawar with barely enough food and clothing. At the time, Otsuka Pakistan provided intravenous products as relief supplies through the local Red Cross. However, after witnessing firsthand the refugees’ poor access to treatment, Otsuka was determined to find a way of supporting the refugees directly, recognizing its responsibilities as a company that affects people’s lives and does business in Asian and Arabian regions.

In 2003, twenty-three Otsuka group companies joined forces to establish the Otsuka Welfare Clinic in Peshawar. At this free clinic for Afghan refugees, eight resident staff, including three doctors, have examined patients seeking treatment. The clinic also has a female physician to treat female patients, out of respect for local cultures and religions, and operates in several languages to ensure effective examination and treatment of patients from different regions within Afghanistan. The clinic sees approximately 160 patients a day, and has treated over 880,000 people to date. It also contributes heavily to local community medical needs in Pakistan, setting up emergency clinics to provide examination and treatment facilities for victims in the worst-hit areas after the 2005 Pakistan earthquake and 2010 torrential rains and floods.

In addition to these two examples, the Otsuka group endowed the Sub Rural Health Center in Myanmar through international NGO People’s Hope Japan, and is actively involved in education to prevent heat disorders in Japan.

For the Otsuka group, the most effective way to give back to society is to recognize and respond to local problems in local regions, while respecting deep-rooted local cultures.

Since 2003, the genesis of environmental and CSR communication in Japan, SUSCOM (Sustainability Communication Hub) ( has attracted experienced planners, directors, editors and designers who have established strong CSR communication parameters for leading companies. Not only publishing CSR reports,… [Read more about Sustainability Communication Hub]

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