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Japan is riding the crest of a new tech wave that raises hopes of market resurgence around the globe.

But many of these firms are just as dedicated to sustainability as they are to profitability — making sure that social responsibility has a key role in everything they do.

With measures such as reducing and processing waste, improving recycling and energy efficiency now commonplace, the 21st century approach is about pushing towards and beyond government Sustainable Development Goals recommendations and guidelines.

With customers more aware than ever about ethical supply chain behaviours, the B2B niche firms are looking to impress clients, as well as help save the world.

Industries that specifically touch on environmental issues are taking extra care.

Nobuyoshi Yamasaki, President of a material manufacturer TBM, said: “We as a newcomer in this market must uphold that long history of Japanese craftsmanship. We try to balance this tradition with the sustainability goal that is at the core of our business.”

He added: “We believe that manufacturing and supplying a product is not enough, it’s also important to collect and recycle our products to continue adding value to the market.”

The Japanese government has placed major importance on their SDGs, and successful businesses are falling in line enthusiastically. Chairman and President Takanori Kakita and Yukiyoshi Tanaka of printing supply firm Screen Graphic Solutions, are firm believers in business modelled around sustainability: “As a reflection of the tide of the times, we are determined to continue to align our business model with the SDG goals.”

Nitto Kohki President Akinobu Ogata added: “SDGs are a very important part of the business to focus on. We are moving toward better recycling practices as well as clean energy.”

Nippon Muki President Ken Yamaguchi’s firm is focusing on air filters, and SDGs are a key consideration. He said: “We are working alongside experts to find new materials that can increase the abilities of our filters and ensure we remain global leaders. We hope this will not only reduce the energy consumption of air conditioning, but also the weight, allowing reductions in emissions from production and transportation.”

In addition to good corporate practice, there are also Japanese businesses making an impact by virtue of the usefulness of their actual products. 

One of the main routes for such niche market firms to play a part in SDGs has been the potentially huge electric vehicle market. For example, the Nihon Glass Fiber Industrial Co. is moving from traditional vehicle exhaust insulation to battery insulation work. 

As President Takashi Asai said: “Overall, we are focusing on replacing our conventional automotive parts with ones that fit the EV market.”

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