[PRESS RELEASE] USJC Bilateral Boardroom spotlights social change and climate responsibility within the U.S.-Japan relationship

November 24, 2021

BlackRock and Hitachi Leaders Emphasize Role of ESG and Sustainability in Corporate Leadership

USJC Bilateral Boardroom spotlights social change and climate responsibility within the U.S.-Japan relationship

WASHINGTON, DC – On November 16, Larry Fink, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, and Toshiaki Higashihara, Representative Executive Officer, Executive Chairman & CEO and Director at Hitachi, Ltd., joined the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) for a virtual Bilateral Boardroom event exploring environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and sustainability as a focal point for U.S.-Japan relations. In separate interviews, Mr. Fink and Mr. Higashihara detailed the rising stakes for companies as shareholders, customers, employees and business partners increasingly demand action to tackle climate change and ESG matters.

In his discussion with co-Founder and former BlackRock Vice Chairman Susan Wagner, Mr. Fink cited the multi-faceted investment and business risks associated with not taking action on climate change. “I would just urge you and your board of directors to be very focused on this – being focused on how your company is moving forward in this de-carbonized world,” he told audience members who tuned in from both the United States and Japan. “It’s more than just having a good product or more than just being in the right space. It’s about their corporate purpose, how they’re living it, and how they’re moving forward in a de-carbonized way.”

Mr. Higashihara emphasized Hitachi’s long-standing mission to be a global leader in addressing social issues. “Courageous leadership is essential, especially managing a large organization,” he stressed, noting the importance of Hitachi’s strategic focus on carbon-neutral technology. He also stated that it is “critical for multinational companies to cooperate to co-create solutions” for issues like climate change and societal challenges including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also at the event, Melanie Nakagawa, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Climate and Energy on the National Security Council, provided the audience with a special update on the recently concluded COP26 conference in Glasgow. “We all know that we can’t meet our goals without working together with the private sector,” she explained. “We know we need trillions more from the private sector to truly turn the corner on climate action.” She also called on the private sector to “bring the innovation, technology needed – this is also a great example of where I see an opportunity for U.S. and Japanese businesses to collaborate.”

The Bilateral Boardroom’s closing panel discussion focused on how ESG principles can be applied on the individual level. Moderated by Lori Teranishi (Founder and CEO, iQ 360), the panel included Robin Takashi Lewis (Co-Founder, mymizu; Representative Director, Social Innovation Japan), Kathy Matsui (General Partner, MPower Partners) and Rika Nakazawa (Group Vice President, Industry X Co-Innovation, NTT, Ltd.).

Seeking new ways to facilitate solutions, USJC President and CEO Suzanne Basalla announced during the Bilateral Boardroom that, with anchor funding from Amazon, the Council will launch a Climate and Sustainability Initiative. The two-year project will aim for meaningful action to address the climate crisis through the U.S.-Japan relationship.

USJC is an educational nonprofit with a significant, decade-long track record of positive impact in the U.S.-Japan relationship. The organization hosted a previous Bilateral Boardroom during the summer, with special guests U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and Shinjiro Koizumi, who was then Japan’s Minister of the Environment. By providing platforms for dialogue and collaboration between governments, academia, the private sector and other key stakeholders in both countries, the Council seeks to help advance long-lasting solutions to critical issues, including climate change and environmental sustainability.

Members of the press are invited to watch a recording of the November 2021 Bilateral Boardroom here. Please note that a version with Japanese subtitles will be uploaded on USJC’s official YouTube channel shortly.

The Bilateral Boardroom is a part of the USJC Signature Series, which engages membership and stakeholders virtually by providing expertise and insights on a range of important topics. This series debuted last year in lieu of a traditional Annual Conference.

About the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC)

The U.S.-Japan Council develops and connects global leaders to create a stronger U.S.-Japan relationship. It is an organization whose members believe people-to-people relationships are a powerful way to bring together leaders in the U.S. and Japan to address and create solutions to mutual concerns. The Council is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit educational organization that was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Washington, DC with staff in California, Hawaii and Tokyo. In 2012, the U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) was created and in 2013, it became a Public Interest Corporation (koeki zaidan hojin). The U.S.-Japan Council (Japan) maintains an office in Tokyo, Japan.