Leaders March 2013

Books for Smiles Update

Our initiative is creating shared value among member firms

Thank you to all those who have contributed so far to our Books for Smiles initiative.

Established in December 2012, this project invites firms of all sizes to support the professional development of Japan’s disadvantaged youth by donating books.

Proceeds from the sale of the books will then be allocated to Bridge for Smile (B4S), a not-for-profit organisation certified by the National Tax Agency Japan.

There are about 31,000 children and young adults living in 590 social welfare facilities in Japan. B4S teaches care-leavers how to build social skills, manage a budget, find accommodation and get a job.

Over the past three months, 14 firms have joined this multi-stakeholder initiative: The British School in Tokyo, Conrad Tokyo, Custom Media K.K., Dyson, Eat Creative K.K., GlaxoSmithKline K.K., Hilton Tokyo, KVH Co., Ltd., MIE Project Co., Ltd., Oakwood Tokyo, Okamoto & Company, Inc., Price Global, Rain Interactive Co., Ltd., and Rolls-Royce Japan Co., Ltd.

As a result, we have achieved one-third of our initial annual goal that will allow a care-leaver to attend nursing school for one year.

About 20 more firms are in the process of mobilising the project and, as the number of donor firms and donations grow, we aim to cover tuition fees for multiple care-leavers throughout the Tokyo region. In addition, the project will extend to those from areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Books for Smiles is not simply a charitable activity; it aims to create shared value among member firms. In the short term, we are able to achieve a target that would prove challenging to most firms individually. In the longer term, our shared action has the potential to secure social progress—educating and training the country’s disadvantaged youngsters.

To ensure the sustainability of the project, we had to create clear objectives and processes.

Since piloting the programme in July 2012, Yayoi Sogo, head of the BCCJ’s Social Responsibility Task Force, has worked tirelessly to give firms a full understanding of project expectations and impact. We have developed a very clear set of guidelines to support local implementation that can be tailored to firms of any size.

Member firms across a variety of industries have risen to the challenge: Custom Media, publishers of BCCJ ACUMEN, have helped promote the project and donated 54 books from its staff and library; GlaxoSmithKline set up collection points during the Christmas period at their Tokyo headquarters and plants, while Oakwood is hosting book boxes at seven residences around the city.

The project has also reached beyond BCCJ borders; Japanese literary scholar Nozumu Hayashi has pledged his support, well-known professor Mikio Kawamura is reaching out to his personal network, and artist Bob Tobin will house a collection point at his Shimbashi gallery.

The diversity of the project’s stakeholders is creating a rich dialogue. Some firms are considering the possibility of providing internship and training opportunities for those leaving care.

They are hopeful that this will lead to job opportunities for the youngsters—contributing to the diversity of Japan’s workforce.

This new approach to long-term, sustainable value creation for our member firms has the potential to exert a broader influence in the Japan market.

BCCJ member support is indispensable to the success of this initiative.

To take part, please send an email, in English or Japanese, to: