Latest news & stories | View response in: 日本語

Responding department: CSR Division

Stock exchange symbol: (2914:JP)

Note: English translation of Japan Tobacco's Japanese original.

Does your company have a publicly available commitment to respect human rights?

[Policy regarding human rights]

Our Code of Conduct demands respect for the human rights of employees and prohibits child and forced labor.

  • Basic Principles on Education and Promotion of Human Rights: [link] (Japanese)

Japan Tobacco (JT) stipulates its policies on respect for human rights in these Basic Principles for its employees in Japan. Formulation of a comprehensive policy on human rights for the entire JT Group (the “Group”) is under consideration.

[Other corporate policies related to the company’s human rights responsibilities]

  • JT Group Responsible Procurement Policy: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

When selecting suppliers, the Group considers whether or not they respect human rights and social norms.

  • JT Group Principles in Leaf Tobacco Production: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

These Principles clearly state that the Group, together with its contracted growers, will promote respect for human rights and prohibit child and forced labor in leaf tobacco production.

  • JTI’s Supplier Standards: [link] (English)

These Standards define the requirements for our business partners in the international tobacco business. Our business partners are required to operate their businesses in compliance with the ILO Convention and other internationally recognized labor norms and all relevant national labor laws. (“JTI” stands for Japan Tobacco International S.A., the Group’s vehicle for its international tobacco business.)

  • Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) Standards: [link] (English)

These Standards set forth the minimum standards for international leaf tobacco growers that have signed direct contracts with the Group, with “child labor,” “rights of workers,” and “workplace health and safety” being the three pillars.

How are human rights governed in your company?

The Executive Deputy President in Charge of Compliance and HR supervises the governance of human rights issues, and the board of directors is periodically briefed on its compliance status. The board of directors has established a framework for ensuring fair and effective compliance practices. Please see page 68 of our Annual Report for more details about compliance.

The Group operates multiple businesses and has a wide variety of stakeholders. Therefore, we believe that it is necessary for each business to tackle human rights issues appropriately. For instance, because agricultural products are one of the most important materials for the Group and a stable supply of leaf tobacco is particularly essential for the Group’s business continuity, we are working closely with regional administrative bodies and local communities to ensure good labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites. In addition, the JT Group Principles in Leaf Tobacco Production (see “1. Policy commitment” above) prescribe that proper labor practices be promoted in cooperation with contracted growers, and the Agricultural Labor Practices (see “1. Policy commitment” above) sets forth standards of labor practices that must be observed by all international growers signing direct contracts with the Group. In order to monitor the status of compliance, to support improvement as necessary, and to avoid any risks associated with human rights in connection with labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites, we are introducing/implementing the “Know Your Grower (KYG)” program (see “3. Management” below) and “Achieving Reduction of Child Labor in Supporting Education (ARISE)” program (see “5. High-priority human rights issues”). Achieving a sustainable supply of leaf tobacco by way of these programs is critical for the Group’s business continuity and, as such, is addressed as a part of the Group’s business strategy. The Group takes a proactive stance toward employee human rights, based on its philosophy the activity of diverse human resources is linked to the Group’s global competitive edge and sustainable growth. Every single employee is employed and treated based on a fair assessment of their competence, regardless of race, national origin, creed, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

How are human rights managed within your company?

Agricultural products are key raw materials for the Group. A stable supply of leaf tobacco is particularly essential for the Group’s business continuity, and thus we are working closely with regional administrative bodies and local communities to ensure good labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites. In order to realize safe and proper labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites, we demand in Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) that the international leaf tobacco growers with which we maintain direct contracts provide a safe working environment, fair treatment, and freedom of association, as well as eliminate child and forced labor. Also, we have developed the “Know Your Grower (KYG)” program in order to monitor the status of ALP compliance among leaf tobacco growers. Under the program, the Group’s vehicle for its international tobacco business, Japan Tobacco International S.A. (JTI), sends farming experts to engage in continuous observation and aid the process of continual improvement among leaf tobacco growers so that they can grow leaf tobacco in line with the ALP, which is in their contracts with the Group. In the event that labor practices at any leaf tobacco growers are not in line with the ALP, or are deemed to have some room for improvement, the farming experts record their observation results and provide advice to the growers. Our faming experts are given training on the contents of the ALP, as well as the coaching skills necessary to guide leaf tobacco growers. Data and observation results gathered via the KYG program are used to understand the reasons for any leaf tobacco grower’s failure to satisfy the ALP and to study ways of formulating a more effective improvement program. The information thus acquired is also put to use for direct investments in communities with leaf tobacco production that best match the actual circumstances of each particular community. As of this writing, the KYG program is applicable to a few directly contracted growers, but we are hoping to expand the scope to all international leaf tobacco contracted growers by 2018 as we make continued efforts to improve the program and develop farming experts. See below for details.

  • JT Group Sustainability Report (pages 32 & 35): [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

What is the company’s approach to the engagement of stakeholders (including workers, and local communities impacted by the company’s activities), on human rights issues?

Each Group company has a mechanism by which employees can consult with their superiors, the responsible persons at HR, or a compliance officer about their concerns and problems with human rights. There is also an internal whistleblowing hotline where privacy is guaranteed. In Japan, the Group provides third-party external consultation/hotlines and conducts annual compliance surveys of its employees. Based on the survey findings, each function draws up measures to control compliance risks. JT and JTI provide contacts to business partners by which they can seek consultation or report if they find any conduct that violates or threatens to violate applicable laws and/or the Group’s Code of Conduct. Any and all such consultation and notification from employees and business partners and their contents is treated as confidential information, and investigations are conducted as necessary. When such investigations have acknowledged that a problem exists, action will be taken as appropriate. As described above (“3. Management”), JTI’s farming experts directly visit leaf tobacco growers to work out solutions to any problems with labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites in cooperation with regional administrative bodies, local communities, and growers. Under the ARISE program, which aims to eliminate child labor as described below (“5. High-priority human rights issues”), the Group takes a strategic approach through cooperation with the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Winrock International, an agricultural development NGO (Non-governmental organization), as well as the local communities.

Priority human rights issues: What are some of the priority human rights issues for your company?

The company selected the following from a checklist:

  • Health (including environmental health, workplace health & safety)
  • Workplace diversity / non-discrimination
  • Freedom of association and trade union rights
  • Children (including child labour)

Actions on workplace diversity / non-discrimination

In 2013, JT established its Diversity Development Department with the aim of promoting working environments in which employees from diverse backgrounds can thrive. Although diversity covers various factors, such as sex, age, and national origin, in consideration of the employment situation in Japan, the current focus of the department is on female representation. In order to provide environments where women are active participants, we organized a series of internal seminars and established a dedicated section on our intranet for continual communication. The department also develops various systems that are designed to create environments where all employees can work more comfortably. Please see the following for the details of these initiatives.

  • JT Group Sustainability Report, page 29: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

Actions on children (including child labour)

[Achieving Reduction of child labor In Support of Education – ARISE program]

In 2012, the Group launched the ARISE program for its international tobacco business in cooperation with the ILO and Winrock International, an agricultural development NGO (Non-governmental organization), with a view toward eliminating child labor at international leaf tobacco production sites from which the Group sources leaf tobacco. Because child labor is a complicated issue that intertwines various social and economic factors, the ARISE program addresses such factors to offer long-term and sustainable programs for resolving issues that can result in child labor among communities growing leaf tobacco. Please see the following for the details of the program.

  • ARISE program web site: [link] (English)
  • ARISE program Annual Review 2013: [link] (English)
  • JT Group Sustainability Report, pages 8-9, 36: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

How are human rights commitments and information about how the company addresses its human rights impacts communicated, internally and externally?

Every year, the Group releases the JT Group Sustainability Reports (referred to as the JT Group CSR Reports in 2013 and CSR Reports through 2012). The Group also discloses its approaches to human rights on its website. Please visit the aforementioned links for disclosure of individual programs.

  • JT Group Sustainability Report: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

The Group provides its employees with frequent opportunities to learn about human rights through a variety of activities, including lectures at new recruit training, the Group intranet or in-house publications, and e-learning.

What provisions does your company have in place to ensure that grievances from workers and affected communities or individuals are heard, and can you provide examples of remedies provided?

Consultation/whistleblowing hotlines are provided for the employees. Each member company of the Group has its own team that oversees compliance. If employees find an alleged violation of the JT Group Code of Conduct, they can speak to their superiors, the head of HR, or members of their compliance team. All employees in Japan are provided with a booklet on the whistleblowing process and external consultation/whistleblowing hotlines provided by a third-party. Any such reports and the findings of resultant investigations will be treated as strictly confidential information. For the international tobacco business, the Group has established a unique whistleblowing process called the “Reporting Concerns Mechanism (RCM),” which guarantees that employees may file reports on any concerns that they have involving compliance, without worrying about their privacy. The RCM process is underpinned by a network of over 200 RCM contact people, who are trained to listen carefully to all employees reporting concerns, collect information consistently, and protect the identities of the reporting employees and any employees suspected of misconduct. JTI’s Corporate Compliance function follows up on all reports, launches investigations when necessary, and takes corrective measures. In FY2013, a total of 375 reports were filed within the Group, all of which were appropriately responded to. JT and JTI also provide their business partners with a consultation/whistleblowing process, which allows anyone at our business partners to seek consultation or file a report if there is conduct by employees of JT or JTI which violates or threaten to violate applicable laws and/or the Group’s Code of Conduct. All reported concerns and investigation reports are treated on a strictly confidential basis. For general consumers, each division has a customer service desk, where opinions, comments, and consultation about the products and services are invited. Any reports received from customers are promptly shared with the departments concerned, appropriately responded to, and, when necessary, disclosed on the respective websites, etc.

Which external and collaborative human rights initiatives does your company participate in, and what is the nature of your involvement?

The Group participates in the following organizations.

  • The Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation (ECLT Foundation)

Engaged in activities designed to eradicate child labor at leaf tobacco production sites: [link] (English)

  • Farm Labor Practices Group (FLPG)

An American organization of stakeholders in the tobacco industry and leaf tobacco production

  • Industrial Federation for Human Rights, Tokyo: [link] (Japanese)
  • Business Ethics Research Center: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

When purchasing leaf tobacco internationally, the Group observes ILO Convention Nos. 138 and 182 to eliminate child labor.

Which are the key one, two or three elements of your approach to human rights that been developed or amended since June 2011? Please indicate if these actions were in response to the UN Guiding Principles.

[JT Group Leaf Tobacco Production Principles]

Established in 2013, these Principles on the Group’s leaf tobacco production specifically stipulate that the Group should work closely together with contracted leaf tobacco growers to improve working environments and eliminate child labor at leaf tobacco production sites. Compliance with these Principles is one of the conditions in contracts with leaf tobacco growers. Please visit the following links for details.

JT Group Principles in Leaf Tobacco Production: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

[ARISE Program]

Launched in 2012 through cooperation with the ILO and Winrock International, an agricultural development NGO (Non-governmental organization), the ARISE program aims to eliminate child labor in global communities that produce leaf tobacco. Please visit the following links for details.

  • ARISE program: [link] (English)
  • ARISE program Annual Review 2013: [link] (English)
  • JT Group Sustainability Report, pages 8-9, 36: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

[ALP Program]

Started in 2013, the ALP (Agricultural Labor Practices) program sets forth standards on safe working environments, fair treatment, working hours, prohibition of forced labor, freedom of association, and elimination of child and forced labor for the international leaf tobacco growers with which we maintain direct contracts. Please visit the following link for details.- Agricultural Labor Practices: [link] (English)

[KYG Program]

Introduced in 2013, the KYG (Know Your Grower) program monitors and improves ALP compliance among leaf tobacco growers. Please visit the following links for details.

  • JT Group Sustainability Report, pages 32 & 35: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

[Diversity Development Department]

This Department was established by JT with the vision of promoting working environments where employees from diverse backgrounds can thrive. Please visit the following links for details.

  • JT Group Sustainability Report, page 29: [link] (Japanese) [link] (English)

The Group is aware that recently an increasing number of its stakeholders have been showing a greater interest in/demand for the UN Guiding Principles and human rights. Accordingly, the Group considers and implements appropriate responses in light of the operating structures and operational states of each business.

What are some of the obstacles and challenges that your company encounters in implementing its human rights commitments?

[Policies on respect for human rights]

Challenges: The Group recognizes that formulation of comprehensive policies on human rights, continual employee training, and implementation of human rights due diligence are pressing issues.

Background: The Group is a growing global company with offices and factories in over 70 countries and regions with products sold in more than 120 countries. In addition to the tobacco business, the Group also operates pharmaceutical, beverage, and processed food businesses, and has a large number of Group companies under its umbrella. The operating environment and situations in the national markets of those businesses vary, and so do the risks associated with human rights and their importance. Against this backdrop, each of the businesses and individual departments concerned have thus far been responsible for drawing up and implementing policies on respect for human rights.

Responses: The Group has already begun considering the formulation of comprehensive policies on human rights and will proceed with this initiative through dialogue with diverse stakeholders, both within and outside of the Group. Methods for continual employee training, etc. will also be considered.

[Child labor]

Challenges: The Group recognizes that, rather than working independently, we can only come up with a long-term, sustainable solution to the issue of child labor by working closely together with competitors, government agencies, NGOs, and, most of all, local communities, since the background and true causes of child labor differ among production regions.

Background: The Group is committed to ensuring fair labor practices at leaf tobacco production sites with cooperation from local communities. With regard to the campaign to eliminate child labor, the Group has been active in Brazil and countries in Africa, which are thought to have highest priority. However, the 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and dialogue with them made us realize again the importance of making similar efforts in the U.S. and other countries whenever necessary.

Responses: In 2014 the U.S. Farm Labor Practices Group (FLPG), which is comprised of players in the tobacco industry and other stakeholders involved in leaf tobacco production, set up a subcommittee on child labor, which is chaired by JTI. Going forward, the Group will remain committed to long-term, sustainable initiatives that match the actual circumstances of each production region.