Aired on Nov15 2021, on NHK news, there was a coverage about ‘Why is the “Purpose” getting all of this attention now in Japan?’ with the picture of the book written by our CEO Mikiko Saito.

Here is the English translation of the news summary.

In the world of corporate management the word “Purpose” is garnering attention and more and more business books are being published on this matter. Purpose is a “corporation’s reason for existence” and it shows what sort of impact a company wants to have on society and it’s a statement that is easily understandable to customers. So why is this “Purpose” getting all of this attention now in Japan?

“Aspiration” to problem solve: An employee gets the idea to sink in 


Major food company Aji no Moto set a new corporate Purpose in 2020. Until then the company’s vision was “An undeniable global・specialty・company”. They were aiming to join the ranks of top 10 food companies in the world. However, such an idea did not sink in well with the employees, CEO Takaaki Nishi reflects, “There was a sort of meeting with around 40 executives and when I asked them to say the company’s vision nobody could answer”. 


That’s when CEO Nishi gathered the management and discussed the “reasons for why this company exists”. He wanted to talk about things on a bigger scale than just sales or expansion and wanted to clarify the societal impact the company was to have. 


In a two year process they came up with the Purpose “Aiming to be a food and health problem solving corporation”. The company’s role was to help create better eating habits and extend lifespan and they shared those ideals with their employees. 


CEO Nishi said “It started off with our goal of wanting to become a company of a certain global scale and then that led to us discussing the problems we wanted to solve until 2030 and that was the outcome that we all agreed to”. 


By holding explanation meetings on Purpose and giving out awards to those who contributed a lot they are trying to get the idea to sink in.


One of the awarded employees, OOyama Hideki of the R&D department said on Purpose, “It was a good thing that helps us all see eye to eye and increase motivation. 


Easier to generate products and business ideas 


Two years ago Kanto based homecenter company Cainz set the Purpose “To living, la la la”. By suggesting a sort of “fun” living with the humming and that fun life is the company’s reason for existence. 

After setting a Purpose the things that needed to be done became more apparent and employees came up with new ideas or products such as  “a hanger where you can easily remove laundry”. 


Another employee idea they actualized was an event where local farmers would show off their vegetables at their shops. By making the shop a place of community they are trying to provide a “fun” way of life. 


CEO Masayuki Takaya says “We see value in asking who we are and what value we are contributing to society and that’s something we are going to be asking for the next 10-20 years”. 


What we need most in a rapidly changing society: A corporate axis


Takashi Nawa , a professor at Hitotsubashi University’s business school says that a Purpose given that it defines the corporation’s will must be one that doesn’t change even if society or the environment does.


“Although profit above all is a sort of foundational idea in capitalism we all realized that it was leading to the destruction of the earth and we must revisit the idea of constant growth. 


Other corporations have also set their own Purpose such as “Fullfing the world with excitement”, “Changing society in the world of clothes”, “Contributing to people’s everyday with better habits” and “Actualizing a prosperous and convenient way of life”. 


We see employees directly confronting societal problems, moving to change their company, and finding a way of work. Because we are in such a time in order to clearly see “What to aim for” we might need a Purpose to serve as an axis for our ideals. 


Source : NHK