March 31, 2023

Hiroshima forum sees rising need for business role in global peace

Video message by Hiroshima prefectural Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki | Hiroshima for Global Peace + TOKYO Community

How can business play a role in peacemaking? This is the question that the Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace has been asking since its launch in 2013, and the need for this kind of discussion is increasing amid the current heightened insecurity in international relations.

To pursue the potential of business to have a greater impact on the creation of peace, the fourth Tokyo session of the 2022 Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace was held in Kudan House in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Feb. 4. The event was livestreamed for a remote audience as well. The Japan Times serves as one of the media sponsors of the event.

A special partner of the event, the Hiroshima Organization for Global Peace (HOPe), is a network consisting of the Hiroshima prefectural government and 20 other organizations. It serves as a platform for research, human resource training, communication of information, community-building and resource accumulation related to global peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The president of the organization and Hiroshima prefectural Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki gave opening remarks in a video message; other speakers came from the public and private sectors as well as academia. About 276 participants joined the event in person or online.

Yuzaki touched on the history of the event and said: “The event held in 2016 received support from professor Philip Kotler, a world authority on modern marketing, who made three recommendations based on the event that focused on the role of business and marketing in achieving global peace. The recommendations were to reduce armaments, to cut the chain of hatred and to enhance love.”

Some of the participants that joined the forum in person | Hiroshima for Global Peace + TOKYO Community

He said the events in 2018 and 2019 had invited Jacque Attali, a French economist and the founder of the nonprofit Positive Planet, who recommended that the best way to solve global issues is for people and nations to think about what would benefit future generations. “The year 2020 was the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, and our discussion centered around how to clarify the roles of businesspeople in achieving ‘positive peace’ and take actions,” Yuzaki said.

He also explained that the Hiroshima Appeal adopted at the end of the event in 2021 was a starting point for “building back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic based on the idea of “true utilitarianism” — “for one to seek personal gain, one needs to simultaneously seek to benefit others.” The main session of the 2022 events was held in Hiroshima in September, focusing on how business can prepare for risks and environmental changes while contributing to peacemaking.

Yuzaki stressed that the Group of Seven summit to be held in Hiroshima in May will serve as a great opportunity for Hiroshima to gain attention from the entire world and expressed his hope that it will help increase the number of partners cooperating in building peace through business.

The Tokyo session consisted of interviews, panel discussions, a pitching session and a networking session covering topics such as inequality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, responsible supply chains, open innovation, involvement of young leaders, and solving social issues simultaneously with growing businesses.

Among the speakers were scholars such as professor Tsutomu Horiuchi at the Tama University Center for Social Investment, business leaders such as Ken Shibusawa, the CEO of Shibusawa and Company Inc. and the chairperson of Commons Asset Management Inc., and young leaders including members of G7/G20 Youth Japan, a nonprofit dedicated to providing future leaders of the country with opportunities to take part in high-level youth diplomacy.

In the closing remarks, Yoshimitsu Kaji, chairman and chief sustainability development officer at the software company Cinnamon AI, expressed his delight in finding many speakers and participants from young generations. “No war is not enough to be called peace. A world free of structural violence is a world that is less likely to experience conflicts. On this front, there are many things that businesses can do,” Kaji said, encouraging youths to feel the connection with peace through working. He concluded his remarks by saying that this year’s G7 summit in Hiroshima has significant meaning because three of the G7 nations are nuclear powers.

The 2023 Hiroshima Business Forum for Global Peace, supported by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, will be held on April 20, ahead of the G7 summit. With Serhii Plokhy, a professor and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University, as the keynote speaker, the event will focus on how international society and business can contribute to peace in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Aiming to highlight issues related to a sustainable society, The Japan Times gave its support to this event by becoming a media sponsor.

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