The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Concerns surrounding the environment, diversity and inclusion, employment of those with disabilities, and many other matters are becoming increasingly important to business. On February 13, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) Alternative Investment and Healthcare committees co-hosted an event at Tokyo American Club entitled Future of Reporting and Sustainability, Including ESG Best Practices: Eisai’s Case. Guests Zenichiro Ishibashi and Ryo Yanagi spoke about the global use of sustainability perfor­mance data and its importance in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) matters.

Ishibashi, an Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Global Board of Directors member and professor at Tohoku University International Graduate School of Accounting Policy, spoke from the perspective of an educator and discussed the IMA’s global best practices. Drawing on the experience gained through a long professional career in finance and as chief financial officer (CFO) for multiple companies, he said: “In Japan, nobody is trained as a future CFO. For me, the success needs to come from inside the organization. That is how the management control system works.”

Ishibashi explained that, in January, a comprehensive job ana­lysis prompted the IMA to update the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) accreditation to reflect new demands on the profession in areas of technology and analytics, integrated reporting, and business ethics, as well as sustainability and social responsibility. There is also now a specialty credential—Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis (CSCA)—through which qualified CMAs can enhance a more forward-thinking, strategic perspective to drive critical decision-making. “The intent is to expose the strategy-making process, because this is what we are watching for inside organizations.”

Ishibashi also spoke of how trends in finance may affect a company’s financial futures. Key areas he cited are:

    • Sustainable business and integrated reporting
    • Multi-stakeholder governance
    • Evolving governance and internal controls

New technologies, he predicts, will result in the elimination of many management accounting positions, but also have the potential to create new ones.

“Successful management accountants will enable the organization to perform better,” he said, mentioning another trend: empowering the CFO as a value creator.

Eisai Co., Ltd. CFO Ryo Yanagi shared how the Japanese pharma­ceutical company practices ESG disclosures. With headquarters in Tokyo, Eisai has about 10,000 employees, 1,500 of which work in research and development of new medicines.

Speaking on the importance of the research and creation of empirical evidence in relation to ESG, Yanagi explained the studies on which he has been working for Eisai. “I have conducted a global investors survey three years in a row. Last year, 75 percent of global investors said that Japan should show value relevance between ESG and return on equity.”

Yanagi explained how Eisai’s corporate philosophy places patient healthcare and the availability of medicines first. By making ESG the top priority, economic value will follow in the long run.

“Access to medicine is the most important key performance indicator in the world, in terms of the global pharmaceutical sector. It is the most compelling, important investment in the pharma sector and is reflected in the price-to-book ratio,” he said.

Eisai aims to give first thought to patients and their families, and to increase the benefits that healthcare provides. “Under this philosophy, the company endeavors to become a human healthcare company,” he said. “Our mission is the enhance­ment of patient satisfaction. The company believes that fulfill­ing the mission will generate revenues and earnings, and places importance on this sequence of prioritizing the mission before the results.”  

Megan Casson is a staff writer at Custom Media for The ACCJ Journal.