Policy & Basic Approach

The Basic Policy on Promotion of Sustainability sets the direction for ITOCHU Corporation's efforts to further sustainability. It is written in the spirit of our core philosophy, Sampo Yoshi. Meanwhile, we adopted an ESG mindset in organizing and integrating the Basic Policies for CSR Promotion and the Environmental Activities Policies.

The ITOCHU Group Basic Policy on Promotion of Sustainability

[Ⅰ]Basic Philosophy

ITOCHU Group, conducting business globally under the spirit of Sampo Yoshi, the management philosophy of merchants in the province of Ohmi, considers that addressing global environmental and social issues is one of the top priority issues in its management policy. We contribute to the realization of a sustainable society based on the ITOCHU Group Code of Conduct, in order to achieve the goals of The ITOCHU Group Corporate Philosophy, "Committed to the Global Good."

[Ⅱ]Action Guidelines

In keeping with the basic philosophy presented above, the ITOCHU Group sets out the following action guidelines to promote its sustainability.

(1) Identification of material issues and promotion of businesses that address the social issues

As a member of the international community, we seek to identify critical sustainability issues whose resolution will lead to the sustainable growth of society as well as our businesses, and aim to enhance corporate value through our operations.

(2) Establishment of mutual trust with society

We continue to address society's expectations and requests by increasing the disclosure of information and facilitating two-way dialogues with stakeholders. By pursuing these initiatives, we aim to become a trusted Group.

(3) Strengthening supply chain and business investment management to lead to sustainable use of natural resources with respect for human rights and consideration for the environment

While engaging in business activities, we respect the legal systems of each country and international rules, and strive to prevent the occurrence of environmental pollution and/or human rights and labor issues that threaten our lives. In addition, we give due consideration to the mitigation of and adaption to climate change, the preservation of the global environment, such as through the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, and human rights issues.
We endeavor to understand how natural resources are utilized (such as air, water, land, food, minerals, fossil fuels, animals, and plants) and what consideration is given to human rights and labor issues, both in the businesses where we invest and in the supply chains related to the products we handle. We request our business partners to understand and implement our concept of sustainability, and aim to build a sustainable value chain.

(4) Education and awareness of employees to promote sustainability

Since promoting sustainability rests in the hands of individual employees, we conduct employee training and awareness activities to deepen their awareness about solving social issues.
Along with other conditions to which we have agreed, all employees observe domestic and foreign laws and regulations. They also follow this policy when executing action plans for their respective units. With this approach, ITOCHU aims to contribute to society through its business.

April 2018
Masahiro Okafuji
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Our Founder Chubei Itoh and Sampo Yoshi

Our founder Chubei Itoh
(1842 - 1903)
Ohmi merchants
(courtesy of Museum of Ohmi Merchant)

The foundation of ITOCHU Corporation traces back to 1858, the year in which Chubei Itoh set out from Toyosato Village, in Shiga Prefecture, to Nagasaki as a traveling linen merchant.

The base of Chubei Itoh's business was the spirit of sampo yoshi, which was a management philosophy of merchants in Ohmi, a province where he was born. The philosophy started in the shogunate era. Due to the merchants' contributions to the society, they were permitted to promote business activities in the region. Since then, not only good for the seller and the buyer, but also for the society became the management philosophy. This can be said to be the roots of today's idea of sustainability, which requires corporations to balance their business activities with the interests of a variety of stakeholders. That spirit is evident in Chubei Itoh's personal motto, "Trade is a compassionate business. It is noble when it accords with the spirit of Buddha by profiting those who sell and those who buy and supplying the needs of the society."

The Roots of a Management Philosophy Inherited Since the Foundation

A daifukucho ledger from the time of ITOCHU's founding

Our founder Chubei Itoh established a "store law" in 1872, and adopted a meeting system. The store law was a set of house rules covering what in modern parlance called management philosophy, a human resources system and employment regulations, which subsequently became the foundation of ITOCHU Corporation's management philosophy. Emphasizing communication with employees, Chubei Itoh chaired meetings himself. Moreover, he incorporated a series of what were at the time groundbreaking management systems, including the codification of "sharing of profit by three parties"(*) and western bookkeeping methods. Those initiatives built the foundations of mutual trust between the store owner and the employees. Since that era, we have based our corporate management on sustainability.

  • Sharing of profit by three parties: In a predominately feudal era, this was an extremely progressive philosophy of sharing profits with employees. The store's net profit was divided among three parties: the store owner, the store's reserve fund, and store employees.

160 Years of History and Sustainability

The headquarters with modern amenities built in 1915

In 2018, ITOCHU Corporation marked its 160th anniversary. Why were we able to keep developing for such a long period of time? We believe that it is because we have put into practice the spirit of sampo yoshi for 160 years, which is the root of sustainability. At the same time, as the business environment has changed with the times, we have established a corporate culture that anticipates changes and turns it into opportunities.

Since the foundation, ITOCHU Corporation has consistently thrived despite the turmoil it has faced in different eras, including two world wars and economic volatility. Starting as a trading company mainly handling textiles, we have fulfilled the role of a trading company that has responsively changed according to the demands of each generation. Furthermore, while significantly changing its products and business portfolios, we have expanded our sphere of influence from upstream raw materials to downstream consumer sales. ITOCHU Corporation has evolved into a general trading company, and from there into a globally integrated corporation.

We are convinced that our history has continued for more than 160 years because we have surely upheld and passed on the spirit of sampo yoshi while remaining an essential component of society by responding to changes, in its expectations in different eras.