Feature Interview

September 2021

Disseminating the Principles of YKK's Founder Around the World Through Sustainability

The Founder's Principles in the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ohsato: I understand that the coronavirus pandemic has been a major challenge for YKK. Could you tell us about any ideas or approaches you had for public relations under these circumstances?

Ibuka: 2020 to 2021 has been a very difficult time. With new rules about social distancing and gathering in groups, our round-table discussions, in which the chairman, president, and employees would come together to talk about our management principles, are no longer possible. But at the same time, our principles are more important than ever before. In fact, I have renewed my determination to carry out management principle promotion activities no matter what the circumstances.

Ohsato: Where do you start when doing that?

Ibuka: I re-read the writings of our founder, Tadao Yoshida. The corporate philosophy of the "Cycle of Goodness" was born out of difficult battles over quality, cost, overseas markets, and so on, and Tadao Yoshida wrote a lot about these circumstances. Much of his thinking resonates today in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. For example, he wrote about preparing the ground for future harvests when times are bad, and of viewing the world as a single country. With the help of Arc, we have been translating these writings and ideas into other languages.

Ohsato: Along with the business challenges, the upper management at your company must have been thinking about how to preserve the company's management principles and maintain the motivations of younger people and those working at offices and factories.

Ibuka: Yes, that's right. That is why we moved quickly to set up online round-table meetings. Company executives have been particularly worried about our younger generation, those who have been with the company for two or three years. As we've discussed, YKK Group has a unique culture, and sitting side-by-side with employees and communicating the company's philosophy and principles and day-to-day duties was a big part of it. Our founder wrote that training matters more on the battlefield than in the dojo. In other words, there is a strong focus on on-the-job learning. The coronavirus pandemic made this difficult, and management became concerned that it would result in a diluting of the corporate culture. In response, we focused on holding frequent round-table meetings of small groups of people, particularly aimed at younger employees in their 20s and 30s.

Ohsato: How have employees responded?

Ibuka: Participants gave feedback such as "it really lifted my spirits," so I'm very glad we did it. Our executives spoke candidly about be the importance of not just communicating our principles, but being aware of the "Cycle of Goodness" as a pragmatic philosophy.

Translation Accuracy Increases over Time

Ohsato: We have had the honor of helping with this in terms of translation. In a translation company, the work is very enjoyable when it involves such interesting content. How do you find our translations?

Ibuka: We are very grateful for the appropriate and accurate translations you provide day to day. From the beginning, we asked you to assign one translator and have them be in charge of as many of our projects as possible. The reason for this is that we have a unique corporate culture, as we discussed earlier, we use specific expressions, and have a number of specific principles and ideas. We hope that the translators understand our corporate culture as if they were one of our own employees, and then render them in the YKK style. I am very grateful indeed that Arc works to fully meet these expectations.

Saito: As a general rule, we have one translator handle your translations. In addition, we have built a dictionary of terms (a glossary) for your company, in which we compile information from past translations and your feedback. This is shared with the translators and checkers, so the information can be used in future translations. In urgent cases or due to scheduling circumstances, we do sometimes assign work to other translators as well, but with the dictionary and other resources, we can still provide a YKK style of expression.

Ibuka: I have been impressed with how comprehensive the dedicated YKK dictionary is that you created. Of course, it is not a problem for other translators to take on urgent jobs. The dictionary is carefully updated, and in our native-speaker checks we have seen that the number of required corrections has fallen with each translation, and more and more the translations are using YKK-style expressions.

Saito: It makes us very happy to hear that. We do not leave all the choices to the translator. Rather, we also strive every day to fully convey customers' thinking and ideas to the translators and checkers so that we can deliver translations that satisfy our customers.

Ibuka: In recent years, we have started sending out press releases for overseas markets, and Arc has been helping with this, too. Until now, our press releases had only been issued in Japanese, but with the announcement of our "YKK Sustainability Vision 2050," we have begun issuing global press releases. You have been a big help with this.

Ohsato: Thank you for the opportunity to be involved. If there is anything we can do to improve, please do let us know.

Global Information Dissemination and Reporting in a Common Language

Ohsato: Finally, we would be grateful if you could tell us something about the future, with respect to your company's future policies and plans.

Ibuka: One thing I want to strengthen going forward is our company's global information dissemination. In this, we will definitely be enlisting your company's help. In the future, we will be enhancing and expanding the dissemination of integrated reports, sustainability reports, and similar information in languages other than Japanese.

Ohsato: It would be a shame not to share all that you have achieved with the rest of the world.

Ibuka: Yes. It's not enough to just practice sustainability. We also have to communicate to the world what we do, in a common language. Reflecting now, we had in the past a tendency to neglect sharing what we knew, thinking that having the "Cycle of Goodness" was all we needed. However, now the world has indices such as SDGs and ESG. Going forward, we needed to provide sustainability information in terms of such shared global language.

The current challenges for YKK Group are to disseminate information globally in local languages, and to talk about sustainability in a global common language. We hope to have your help in these endeavors.

Ohsato: We are grateful for the opportunity to be involved. Thank you very much. It has been fascinating talking to you today, and we look forward to working alongside you for many more years to come.


Contact point for YKK
(website available in Japanese only)

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