Ethical Performance
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Business rallies to help Japan

April 2011

Companies around the world have donated millions of dollars to the Japanese relief effort after last month’s earthquake.

Cash and in-kind donations, many of more than 100million yen ($1.23m, £760,000, €870,000), have been made to local and international organizations involved in the emergency operations.

So far more than 18,000 are known to have died from the 8.9-magnitude earthquake and its aftermath. Many more are homeless, and buildings and utilities, most notably nuclear plants, have been severely damaged. The World Bank, meanwhile, has said Japan’s economy will take years to recover from the catastrophe, which has affected stock and commodity markets worldwide.

The biggest donations have been from US-based multinationals, and include: $7.3m (£4.5m, €5.2m) from Coca-Cola; $6m pledges from Goldman Sachs and the Dow Chemical Company; an ‘initial commitment’ from Walmart of $5m in cash, food and other goods; $5m from JPMorgan Chase; donations of $1.2m from Aflac, an insurance company employing about 5000 people in Japan, Amway, Bank of America, Procter & Gamble and Starbucks; a $3m commitment from Abbott; a Microsoft donation of $1.75m in software to re-establish communications; and $3m in cash and machinery from construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar.

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, US companies had pledged more than $200m by the end of March.

In Asia itself, Honda, Nissan and Toyota will give about $3.75m each. The former is also donating 1000 power generators. Mitsubishi Electric has given $6m, and the Asia Pulp & Paper Group and Samsung have committed $1.2m. Sony is matching employee donations, in addition to donating $3.5m. Nintendo is also giving $3.5m. Uniqlo, the Japanese apparel retailer, is donating more than $25m, mainly in cash.

Other forms of aid include the use of Google’s interactive Person Finder facilities, which help displaced people find relatives, plus a Panasonic effort to distribute half a million batteries and thousands of torches and radios.

Away from the donations sphere, there have been reputational problems for firms involved in Japan’s nuclear reactor failures brought about by the earthquakes, including the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the world’s fourth largest energy group, which owns the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant where four reactors failed, and General Electric, which designed some of the reactors’ failing parts.

TEPCO has been accused, by the Japanese government among others, of falsifying reports on reactors in the past, and The New York Times has alleged that ‘experts had long criticized’ the General Electric design of reactors. In addition, at a time of renewed interest in nuclear regulation, Japan and many other countries have been accused of laxity.

Large areas around the reactors have had to be evacuated after explosions and fears of a meltdown, and the radiation is expected to remain for months. Meanwhile, Japan faces an acute power shortage, because nuclear plants supply 30 per cent of its energy.

Asia | Charitable giving

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