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Mechanisms to Facilitate Employee Participation

Employee Volunteer Activities

Yatsuda Regeneration Project

Yatsuda refers to a rice paddy in the valley of a low, hilly area (yatsu). Also known as yato or yachi, yatsuda is one of the landscapes of satoyama, (Japanese village forest), often seen in the Kanto and Tohoku regions. However, yatsuda paddies are now disappearing. The reasons include the difficulty in using machines for planting seedlings because of the irregular shape of rice paddies created in narrow valleys, the shortage of farm workers due to Japan’s aging society, and the impact of housing development. Yatsuda paddies are artificial ponds. With surrounding forest areas, they foster the vitality of many plants and animals and create rich biodiversity, and the protection of such environment has been called for.

Asaza Fund (NPO) was a grant recipient of the Mitsui & Co. Environment Fund, and is promoting natural regeneration activities in the Lake Kasumigaura watershed. In cooperation with them, Mitsui & Co. is engaged in a project for regenerating deteriorated yatsuda paddies in Ushiku City, Ibaraki Prefecture, by growing agrochemical-free rice, and through other activities. This project solicits the participation of employees and their families, including those of our group companies, and participants visit the yatsuda paddies six times, from rice planting and weeding to shipping of the Japanese sake created from the harvested rice. While growing rice, we also conducted biological studies of the area. The program allows participants to see firsthand how the yatsuda ecosystem is returning to life.