Faculty Author Type

Current Faculty [Janis Sarra]

Published In

University of British Columbia Law Review

Document Type


Publication Date



Corporate social responsibility; Japan


Globally, there is increasing discussion about corporate social responsibility (CSR). Many large multinational enterprises, particularly in mining and other resource sectors, have voluntarily adopted CSR programs, having concluded that social, economic, and environmental sustainability measures are good for the "bottom line" and fro the communities in which they operate. Companies in Japan have yet to move in that direction, although there are a few notable exceptions. In part, this lack of adaptation to the growing interest in CSR internationally is due to cultural and social norms in Japan that suggest that many aspects of CSR properly belong to the domain of remedial legislation, such as environmental protection legislation, human rights lawn and social safety nets. One of the biggest challenges to Japanese corporations' promotion of CSR activities has been directors' obligation to consider how every activity of the corporation contributes directly or indirectly to profits. It has been difficult of Japanese corporations to develop CSR activities when they are not based on laws that would be enforced by regulatory bodies and/or the private sector. This paper begins to explore some of these issues. Through the collaboration between a Canadian scholar and a Japanese scholar working with Japanese corporations and policy-makers, this paper provides insight into the current state of Japanese corporate governance and the discussion regarding development of CSR activities and norms. Part II introduces some of the elements of CSR that have been adopted internationally, including a brief comparative reference to Canadian law. Part III explores why CSR has taken the particular trajectory it has in Japan. Part IV examines how the history and development of corporate law has influenced or been influenced by various components of CSR, particularly in the political and environmental arenas. Parts V and VI then respectively examine labour law and environmental law in Japan and their relationship to the potential for the growth of CSR.



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