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FY2016 Stakeholder Dialogue: Dialogue on Re-identifying Material Issues

Past Stakeholder Dialogues

Dialogue on Re-identifying Material Issues

In 2008, KDDI identified four material issues for CSR, which have been the focus of its efforts. In this stakeholder dialogue, two experts were invited to discuss the topic of reviewing the material issues in consideration of international social trends and the changing environment within the KDDI Group, with an eye toward sustainable development in society and the KDDI Group.


Kaori Kuroda

Executive Director, CSO Network Japan
Kuroda assumed her current post in 2004, after working in the private sector. Since 2010, she has also served as Japan Director at the Asia Foundation. From October 2007, she has worked to support ISO 26000 implementation as a Japanese NGO expert. Kuroda is also a constituent member of the Round Table on the Promotion of Sustainable Development Goals.

Hitoshi Mitomo
Professor, Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies
Mitomo conducts research into telecommunications economics and policy, the social and business applications of telecommunications, and social innovation through ICT. He currently serves as President of the Japan Society of Information and Communication Research, and as Vice Chair of the International Telecommunications Society.

Okuyama, General Manager, Operations Division, Technology Sector
Taguchi, Operations Division, Technology Sector
Usami, General Manager, R&D Strategy Division, Technology Sector
Yoneyama, R&D Strategy Division, Technology Sector
Dobashi, Executive Officer, CSR & Environmental Sustainability, General Manager, General Administration & Human Resources Division
Tanaka, General Manager, General Administration Division, General Administration & Human Resources Division, Corporate Sector
Torimitsu, General Manager, CSR & Environment Management Department, General Administration Division, General Administration & Human Resources Division, Corporate Sector

  • The positions and titles of the participants listed here are valid as of the end of March 2017.

Part 1: Recognizing changing social trends and reviewing material issues

KDDI: In 2008, KDDI identified four material issues for CSR. We are now undergoing a process to review these material issues in consideration of international social trends and the changing environment within the KDDI Group.

Kuroda: I would first like to address the topic of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which have seen significant developments in recent years. These are at the core of the so-called "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" plan, which was adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015, and which sets forth 17 goals and 169 targets to achieve by the year 2030. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were set to be achieved by the year 2015, and which were primarily aimed at industrialized nations, the SDGs are applied universally to all countries, including developing nations.
Importantly, the responsibilities of the private sector are mentioned in the agenda. In Japan, there is growing interest in the SDGs, particularly among major corporations, and efforts that are integrated with business are on the rise. The Japanese government is interested in contributing to SDGs, particularly in the field of science and technology innovation, so the expectations for private companies are likely to increase in the future. For KDDI, SDGs may act as a key to spur innovation in the area of resolving social issues through ICT.

KDDI: We at KDDI also regard SDGs as a very important activity. We are investigating the points of contact between SDGs and business, and would like to incorporate them into the material issues.

Kuroda: When reviewing the material issues, I encourage you to consider an outside-in approach. Under this approach that is recommended for the SDGs, KDDI should develop efforts based on social needs, instead of simply taking efforts that are already being implemented and applying them to the SDGs. Then, after setting the detailed themes, it is good to periodically review them every three years or so.

Part 2: Social expectations for KDDI
Role of ICT providers, and solving social issues through ICT

Moderator: As society changes, what roles do you think are required of ICT providers?

Mitomo: The ICT business involves private enterprises that provide public services, which makes it important to incorporate public-mindedness into the business. However, there are limits to what a single company can do, so I think it might be good to contribute to society with a platform business that provides comprehensive services that combine applications with network infrastructure. To do so, it may become increasingly important for KDDI to collaborate with other players, including competitors, in the future.

Moderator: In what types of fields are there expectations to resolve social issues through ICT?

Mitomo: In the field of regional development, there are expectations regarding the application of ICT in disadvantaged areas, such as remote islands or hilly and mountainous areas [1]. Telework and Wi-Fi maintenance are two current issues. In particular, telework is extremely important, as it has the potential to reduce the population decline in local areas and alleviate the overconcentration of people in Tokyo. KDDI Web Communications has started working with municipalities in Okinawa prefecture on a project to promote regional development using IT services. What is required now are solutions that can completely reverse negative situations and turn them positive, instead of just eliminating them. I would like to see ICT applications that generate more positive results by communicating the appeal of regions and achieving a prosperous lifestyle. Also, ICT is clearly an effective tool for education, even though education is a field that is difficult to connect directly to business. I hope to see further efforts in this area. In the future, I think there will also be greater expectations in the fields of medicine, nursing, and health care.

  • [1]
    Areas ranging from the edges of plains to intermountain regions

KDDI: Education is an important research subject, and we are pursuing efforts on the theme of how AI can contribute to academic development. Although it will take time to achieve measurable results, we would like to continue our steady pursuit of these efforts.
In the medical field, KDDI Research, Inc. is currently providing medical services in regions on a trial basis. For example, we are collaborating with Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital to create a system for people who are unable to visit the hospital, whereby devices such as blood-pressure gauges are installed in their homes so that doctors can provide advice remotely. In addition, through our efforts in various regions, we have come to understand that specific requirements vary depending on the region. Although it is more difficult to create separate systems that are appropriate for each individual region, we will continue studying how to support this.

Kuroda: I would like to see the provision of services that support the needs of various types of persons with disabilities. Also, with respect to language-related services, it appears that efforts are being made for tourists visiting Japan.

KDDI: Focusing on the use of taxis by tourists to Japan, we are pursuing efforts that help drivers to translate sightseeing information into various languages, using dictionary data and GPS information. We are currently conducting trial tests in Tottori City and other areas. One thing to keep in mind is that users should have a high degree of satisfaction even if, for example, the translations are not entirely accurate. Although engineers tend to be focused on improving translation accuracy, the experience of social implementation helps us to realize that it is not always technology alone that leads to the resolution of social issues. We hope this can lead to more successful links between technology development, resolution of social issues, and business.

Kuroda: Indeed, social issues cannot be resolved through ICT alone. Although ICT plays a major role in the monitoring of children and the elderly, analog communication such as the participation of local residents is also important. It is key to collaborate with a variety of players from outside the company.

Environmental problems for ICT providers

Kuroda: I also encourage KDDI, as an ICT provider, to review how the environment is handled as a material issue. I think it is wonderful that numerical targets have been established for the 2030 goals in the KDDI GREEN PLAN 2017-2030, particularly for CO2 emissions and resource recycling. However, in relation to setting these targets, I wonder what type of society KDDI envisions for the year 2030. It would be even better if you could express your vision in greater detail. Also, I suggest breaking down the process of achieving the 2030 targets step by step, in terms of the short-term targets along the way, such as every 3 or 5 years. Also, this approach is not just for the environment. The same could be applied to all of the material issues.

Mitomo: Although the use of electric power is essential for the telecommunications business, I would like to see efforts in the direction of "Green ICT" that increases energy efficiency and decreases power consumption. At the same time, there is also the "ICT for Green" approach in which ICT is used to solve environmental problems. Telework, which reduces the amount of vehicle traffic by relying on communications as a substitute for commuting to work, originates from the "ICT for Green" concept, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions and pollution.

KDDI: We are incorporating both the "ICT for Green" and "Green ICT" perspectives into the KDDI GREEN PLAN 2017-2030. Telework must also be promoted from the perspective of work-style reform.

  • Supplementary explanation from KDDI
    Regarding the KDDI GREEN PLAN 2017-2030, the target values for each fiscal year are to be created in FY2017, and progress reports are to be provided each fiscal year. The information disclosure process is under consideration.

Mitomo: There are demands to reduce CO2, but redundancies are needed to ensure that stable communications services are provided. This detracts from the ability to reduce CO2. It is important to simultaneously consider both sides and strike an overall balance.

Response to disaster risk

Mitomo: With respect to the stability of communications, it is also important to be prepared for natural disasters. I think it is good to think about risk and uncertainty separately. Risk is something that is understood in terms of the probability of occurrence, while uncertainty involves unforeseen phenomena. Although you can thoroughly prepare for risk, it is good to define the extent to which uncertain situations are covered. If the organization is prepared, recovery can be implemented quickly in cases such as when communications are interrupted.

KDDI: When a disaster occurs, the Disaster Prevention Planning Office in the Operations Division cooperates with the Japan Self-Defense Forces and other carriers to take control of the recovery operations. Communications are an important part of the infrastructure that involves human life, so we would like to continue making improvements. In addition, the needs of disaster victims change over time after a disaster occurs, so support that adapts to the circumstances of the moment is required. In response to the Kumamoto earthquakes, we drew from past experience in our efforts to share information with other carriers and provide Wi-Fi equipment to shelters.

Data usage and privacy

KDDI: Another issue is the use of big data when large-scale disasters occur. Location data obtained from mobile phones is effective in terms of providing an understanding of the situation, so we believe it is our social responsibility to cooperate with and provide information to national and government authorities when necessary. However, this information cannot be provided without user consent. The sense of unease that users feel toward the sharing of personal information can be attributed to a lack of understanding about how their information is used. We are pursuing efforts to create a system that enables the users themselves to understand this.

Mitomo: You are completely right about the sense of resistance from users. By visually clarifying how the data is used, I think you can eliminate anxiety and make progress toward data utilization.

KDDI: In the past, the target of data protection services offered by telecommunications providers was simply the data. Recently, however, there has been a shift in thinking toward data protection that aims to safeguard the human rights of users. I think that security and privacy should be considered as top-priority material issues.

Kuroda: Human rights are also emphasized in the SDGs, so I definitely encourage you to take this into consideration. When doing so, it might also be better to incorporate a supply chain-oriented perspective that examines whether privacy protection is demanded of business partners.

  • Supplementary explanation from KDDI
    KDDI: In the CSR procurement guidelines, KDDI requires business partners to prevent the leakage of personal information (appropriate management and protection of personal information of customers, third parties, and KDDI employees) and to prevent the leakage of confidential information of customers and third parties (appropriate management and protection of confidential information received from customers and third parties).

Sustainable procurement

Kuroda: Sustainable procurement is receiving attention around the world, and various problems caused by global supply chains are important issues that were even raised at the G7 Summit. Japanese companies are known for placing importance on their communication with suppliers, and I would like to see further progress in this area. For sustainable procurement, I encourage you to take into account the suppliers of services, in addition to material things.

KDDI: We have developed procurement guidelines for business partners, and are discussing and working with them on efforts to make improvements. However, there is still room for us to review our understanding of the situation of secondary and tertiary suppliers and to make improvements. Moving forward, this will be an issue for us.

Diversity and inclusion

Kuroda: I have the impression that KDDI is making great efforts in terms of diversity and inclusion (D&I). However, we must bear in mind that Japanese companies are very slow in this area. In Japan, D&I tends to be focused on the advancement of women. In the case of KDDI, a wide range of people are involved, including persons with disabilities, LGBT people, and seniors. However, when expanding globally, the perspectives of people with various ethnic and religious backgrounds is also very important. In Europe and America, the concept of employee diversity as a benefit to management strategy became mainstream around the year 2000, and there are expectations regarding D&I promotion as a strategy.

KDDI: In 2008, KDDI established the Diversity & Inclusion Department, which aims for the professional advancement of female employees, and we have positioned the promotion of diversity as a priority issue. Recently, we have made progress with efforts for persons with disabilities and LGBT people, and we will continue to expand these efforts around the world in the future. Also, with respect to corporate governance, it has been suggested that there is a relationship between the diversity and continued growth of a company, so we would like to consider the medium-to-long term perspective.

Mitomo: In the material issues, how about including the perspective of employee satisfaction? As a company that supports infrastructure, there is some overlap between the employees' personal goals and those of the company, and it is extremely important to have a perspective that examines whether employees feel a sense of purpose at work. I also think it is a good idea to consider customer satisfaction as well. Sales practices and customer support are important as points of contact between customers and the company, and they are directly connected to how the company is evaluated.

KDDI: As specified in the KDDI Philosophy, our company "values and cares about the material and emotional well-being of all its employees". At the same time, we are pursuing efforts to incorporate customer satisfaction as a management policy across the entire organization. Employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction are both important, and we would like to consider positioning them as material issues.

Conclusion: Cooperating with stakeholders and developing further as a global corporation

Kuroda: The expectations for ICT continue to rise as issues grow increasingly complex, so I would definitely like to see further pursuit of these efforts. In striving to make the company better, it is important to engage in activities with a wide variety of players. There might even be cases where problems become exposed by cooperating with local governments and organizations, even when conducting business in industrialized nations. In the future, I hope to see KDDI collaborate with a variety of stakeholders.

Mitomo: It is respectable that KDDI receives outside advice through activities such as this dialogue, for the purpose of examining the company's activities and future direction. Our environment, which is steeped in communications, is changing day by day, but the importance of the infrastructure does not change. As ICT providers in other countries become increasingly globalized, I hope that KDDI, with its excellent technology and sales capabilities, continues to expand around the globe.

KDDI: Up to now, KDDI has developed as a company with a primary focus on Japan, but our future direction is to become increasingly global. We would like to utilize the advice received today as we proceed with our review of the material issues, in our aim to be a corporation that can contribute to society. Thank you very much.

  • Supplementary explanation from KDDI
    Regarding the re-identification of material issues, KDDI will consider the contents of this dialogue with the experts, discuss the lessons at the FY2017 CSR Committee meeting, and announce the results at a later time.