Respect and Consideration for Human Rights
Policy and Basic Concept
Human Rights Policy of the ITOCHU Group
The ITOCHU Group has adopted the "ITOCHU Group Human Rights Policy" (hereinafter "the Policy"), drafted based on our Corporate Mission, Code of Ethical Conduct, and The Basic Policy on Promotion of Sustainability. This Policy iterates our commitment to respect the human rights of our stakeholders and address negative impacts that may arise from our business activities.
- 1. Policy scope and our expectations toward business partners
This Policy applies to all worldwide executives and employees of the ITOCHU Group, including contractors and temporary employees. The ITOCHU Group also expects business partners and other relevant stakeholders to comply with this Policy.
- 2. Endorsement of international agreement
The ITOCHU Group supports international agreements on human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the United Nations Global Compact, which we have been a signatory to since 2009. We will also implement measures aligning to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- 3. Legal compliance and respect for internationally recognized human rights
The ITOCHU Group will comply with the laws and regulations in the respective countries and regions where we perform our business activities in addition to Japan. If there is a contradiction between internationally recognized human rights and the laws and ordinances of a country or region, we will pursue a method to maximize respect for international human rights principles.
- 4. Management approach
The ITOCHU Group will build structures to realize this Policy. The Sustainability Officer will bear the responsibility to oversee the compliance and implementation situation of this Policy.
- 5. Human Rights Due Diligence
Based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the ITOCHU Group will implement human rights due diligence in order to identify, prevent and mitigate negative impacts on human rights and fulfill our commitment to accountability.
- 6. Remedy and Rectification
If the business activities of the ITOCHU Group induce a negative impact on human rights or if involvement in such becomes clear, we will strive to remedy and rectify that through appropriate procedures and dialogue.
- 7. Dialogue and consultations
The ITOCHU Group will leverage external human rights expertise in its implementation of human rights due diligence and will engage in dialogues and consultations with our stakeholders – especially those potentially subject to adverse impacts from our business activities.
- 8. Education and awareness
The ITOCHU Group will provide appropriate education to all executives and employees (including contractors and temporary employees) and strive to raise human rights awareness in order to incorporate and implement this Policy in our business activities.
- 9. Communication on this Policy and our relevant initiatives
This Policy will be approved by senior executive in charge of sustainability and be reported to our Board of Directors and we will widely publish it to the public. We will also report on our human rights initiatives based on this Policy on the ITOCHU website and in our ESG Report.
Member of the Board
Senior Managing Executive Officer
Chief Administrative Officer
Respect and consideration for human rights is an important issue for ITOCHU as we deploy our business activities in various regions around the world. ITOCHU also asks all our stakeholders to approve, understand and put into practice the human rights policy of ITOCHU in addition to education for employees to respond to this important issue.
Response to Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
ITOCHU is committed to initiatives to ensure that there is no modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chain and business activities. We are participating in the United Nations Global Compact. Together with this, we are reflecting the concept of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in our business activities. The existing principles of ITOCHU contain initiatives to ensure that modern slavery and human trafficking do not occur in our sales activities and supply chain across the world.
Consideration for Foreigners
If foreign workers, interns and trainees are accepted in our supply chain, we pay full attention so that we comply with the labor related laws and ordinances in the country concerned and so that we do not commit acts contrary to the purpose of that acceptance system. We do this from the point of view of respect for human rights and relief because such people are liable to become the target of illegal acts due to their low social and economic status.
Respect for the Rights of Children
ITOCHU supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Children's Rights and Business Principles. We respect the four pillars of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - a child's right to life, development, protection and participation.
ITOCHU has adopted the development of the next generation as one part of our Basic Activity Guidelines on Social Contribution. We perform activities to support the healthy development of the young people who will be responsible for the next generation.
Related activities can be found here.
Security Company Appointment Concept
The United Nations adopted the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials in December 1979. This aims to ensure that member states thoroughly implement and promote the appropriate roles of law enforcement officials (e.g., the police and military authorities) and respect and protect the dignity of humans while carrying out their duties. ITOCHU supports the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials in which the United Nations has established the principles on the use of firearms by law enforcement officials under the above code of conduct. We select security companies according to the content of that.
Respect for the Rights of Indigenous People
We recognize that indigenous people have their own culture and history when we conduct business activities in regions where indigenous people live as part of our commitment to respect human rights. We respect and take into consideration the rights of indigenous people established in the laws of the countries and regions where we perform our business activities and international agreements (e.g., the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169). When examining new business investment projects, we also strictly enforce prior checks concerning the impact on the rights of indigenous people by that business.
Structures and Systems
ITOCHU promotes the formulation and implementation of action plans with respect and consideration for human rights serving as one of our key issues. Under the sustainability promotion structure, the person responsible for this issue is the Sustainability Officer while the Sustainability Management Department serves as the secretariat. The secretariat performs a review every year together with the persons responsible for ESG in each division. This content is deliberated on and reported to the Sustainability Committee. Important matters are also discussed and reported to the Board of Directors.
- Reference：Sustainability Promotion Structure Chart
Human Rights Due Diligence
The ITOCHU Group is fulfilling our responsibility to respect human rights based on the Human Rights Policy of the ITOCHU Group we formulated in April 2019. Specifically, we identify and evaluate the negative impact from the corporate activities of the ITOCHU Group on human rights that may affect society. We then work to prevent and mitigate that through appropriate means. In addition, we disclose information on the progress and results of our action. In FYE 2021, we started building human rights due diligence process in our Food Company that greatly contributes to maintaining a safe and stable lifeline for consumers.
New Business Investment Projects
For more details, please refer to "ESG Risk Assessment for New Business Investment Projects".
When entering into business with new suppliers, ITOCHU informs all applicable suppliers in advance of the Sustainability Action Guidelines for Supply Chains. If a matter in violation of the purpose of this policy is confirmed, we seek corrective measures from that supplier. At the same time, if it is judged that correction is difficult even though we have made continuous requests for correction, we deal with this under a stance of reviewing our business with that supplier.
We also perform due diligence with the seven core subjects of ISO26000 serving as the mandatory survey items (including modern slavery and human trafficking) when making new investments with major suppliers. We conduct additional due diligence with external specialist organizations for investment projects requiring a professional point of view.
Supply Chain Management
For more information see Sustainability in the Value Chain.
We conduct risk assessment on human rights including modern slavery and human trafficking. We do this through group company fact-finding surveys in which we visit sites together with external experts as appropriate. This is in addition to our supplier surveys in due diligence. We have also established policies and responses for procurement by product in regards to products with a significant impact on society and the global environment. This is an attempt to reduce the risks in our supply chain.
Employee Consultation Desk
We have established an employee consultation desk called 7830 (Nayami Zero) to respond to worries and consultations from each individual employee. We have also posted the HR Help Guide Book on the Intranet and have widely informed employees about the consultation desk. This means we have established a structure in which it is possible for employees to consult with us.
Career Counseling Center
ITOCHU established our Career Counseling Center ahead of other companies. This office accepts workplace culture, human relations, treatment and harassment related consultations in addition to consultations on the careers of individuals by telephone, fax, e-mail and the post. Full-time office employees deal with these consultations.
In addition to a direct hotline to those responsible for compliance in each division, we have also established multiple desks to receive reports not only from our employees but also from the group companies and those who have contracts with ITOCHU both in Japan and overseas as ITOCHU Hotline System. These include external desks to receive reports by specialized operators and by external lawyers.. Our hotline system prohibits unfavorable treatment (e.g., retaliation) against internal information reporters. It also accepts information reporters to make reports anonymously.
Flow of report
Consultation Desk for the General Public (including Stakeholders)
ITOCHU Corporation has established a system to accept opinions, proposals, and grievances and to accept inquiries from the general public and all our stakeholders, as described below.
Implementation of Fair Recruitment
Human resources are the greatest management resources for ITOCHU - a general trading company deploying a variety of businesses around the world. ITOCHU conducts activities to recruit those newly graduating from universities and graduate schools every year. The table below gives our recruitment record over the last three years.
- The figures as of April 1st, 2020
We also offer internships (work experience workshop) every year separate to our recruitment activities. The aim of these internships is to provide support to university and graduate school students in forming their careers. We provide opportunities to deepen knowledge about the business of trading companies and about working in a trading company.
ITOCHU recruits employees chiefly on the basis of their personal character. We recruit employees fairly and impartially without concern for their age, gender, nationality or otherwise. We have provided human rights education with lecturers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Human Rights Promotion Center and have also reflected that content in our interviewer education. We have also established a watchdog system in which employees are selected and notified to serve as watchdogs to establish a fair recruitment screening system.
FYE 2020 Human Rights Training Record
|No. of Participants|
|New employee training||
|Organization Manager Workshop||
|Training for newly appointed section managers||
|Pre-overseas appointment training||
In addition to the above training, we made business and human rights one of the themes in our sustainability e-learning in FYE 2020. Please see the Spreading Sustainability at Itochu page for more details.
We raise awareness about the relationship between our corporate activities and human rights in our various internal training programs. We develop the mind to respect human rights that should be possessed as an ITOCHU person in our new employee training. For example, we hold training to acquire consideration for nationality, age and gender (including sexual minorities such as LGBTs) from the basic concept of human rights and points of concern. We raise the problem of sexual harassment (including discriminatory behavior and harassment toward sexual orientation and gender identity) and abuse of authority in internal training aimed at organizational heads. We provide education and instruction for measures when harassment has actually occurred and when we have received reports of such. We strive to create an environment that does not allow harassment on a daily basis. Through these initiatives, we are aiming for a thorough understanding toward human rights. We are also striving to raise awareness in various regions by looking at consideration for human rights in our supply chain in pre-overseas assignment training. There were 720 participants in our human rights training in FYE 2020.
We have continued to hold internal seminars since 2007 on human rights issues. The aim of this is to adopt insight and opinions from those outside the company. We made business and human rights (in the supply chain) a theme in FYE 2019.
We conducted awareness activities for business and human rights. The purpose of these was to learn about the latest trends concerning corporate activities and human rights problems and to make use of that in our business as a general trading company which deploys various businesses across the world and which plays an important role in the supply chain.
We are endeavoring to raise awareness of human rights. The aim of this is to ensure that human rights violations do not occur in the workplace. We are doing this through various publications that we distribute to all our employees.
- We convey our basic concept on respect for human rights through the ITOCHU Group corporate code of ethical conduct and Human Rights Policy of the ITOCHU Group to all our employees.
- We call on our employees not to induce human rights violations in business in our compliance handbook. We do this by establishing pages on respect for human rights and harassment with concrete examples.
- We have prepared a handbook on communication with our suppliers. We deploy a check mechanism in which those in charge of surveys can understand the actual state of the management of human rights and labor practices in important suppliers more clearly and so that they can then offer advice on making improvements. At the same time, we utilize this in keeping our employees informed.
Countermeasures Against Harassment
ITOCHU is raising awareness on the importance of making systems well-known and engaging in communication through organizational head training. We are doing this so that pregnant employees and employees persevering with their work while being engaged in childcare and nursing care can also contribute to their workplaces with a sense of their work being worthwhile. This is without employees in the workplace being subjected to abuse of authority or sexual harassment (including disadvantaging and harassing employees who are applicable to sexual minorities). Superiors encourage employees with restrictions due to balancing their work with childcare or nursing care to make use of the related systems appropriately. In addition to this, we are also ensuring employees are fully informed about the importance of reviewing work content, work division and work styles over the entire workplace. Furthermore, we have thoroughly established a workplace environment which does not allow discriminatory remarks relating to sexual orientation or gender identification and remarks made under unconscious assumptions of gender segregation. We have also established a desk to receive consultations from employees.
The following are clearly defined as prohibited acts in human rights violations under the work regulations: discrimination relating to work by race, gender, religion, creed, nationality, body, illness, age or any other irrational reason; sexual harassment (including discriminatory behavior and harassment relating to sexual orientation and gender identity); and workplace bullying. The regulations stipulate disciplinary action to be taken against such behavior.
Foreign Technical Intern Trainee Survey on Working Environment
ITOCHU Modepal, a subsidiary to ITOCHU under the Textile Company, conducted a survey on its domestic production contractors, which constitutes of 211 sewing factories. The survey inquired whether or not the contractors were employing foreign technical intern trainees, and if the contractor answered affirmatively, continued to ask how it manages legal compliance to labor standards and health and safety standards specifically regarding the foreign trainees. The latest survey results showed that there are no cases of non-compliance to relevant laws and regulations.
In order to facilitate the survey and enhance its results, ITOCHU's head office sustainability management department held a seminar for sales representatives and production managers prior to sending out the questionnaire. The seminar, entitled "sustainability promotion and foreign technical intern trainees", aimed to enhance participants' understandings of human rights risks and how to mitigate them.
ITOCHU will continue to make Group-wide initiatives in identifying risks along the value chain that can potentially lead to human rights violations, and strive to uphold its commitment to respecting human rights.
Cooperation with Stakeholders
Participation in Workshops on Human Rights Issues
- Business and Human Rights Training: Effective Stakeholder Engagement
- Supply Chain Labor and Human Rights Audit (Practical) Training (Lloyds's Register Japan)
- Caux Round Table
- Human Rights Education Subcommittee (GCNJ)