SDGs/ESG Initiatives

Basic Policy for SDGs/ESG Initiatives

The Aozora Group focuses on creating social values in its banking business through SDGs/ESG initiatives as a way to actively contribute to the sustainable development of Japanese society. At the same time, the Aozora Group, as an economic entity, proactively resolves environmental and social issues to realize a sustainable society by promoting CSR activities that meet regional and social needs.

The Aozora Group has put in place three focuses represented by “Environmental protection,” “Promoting innovation” and “Fullness of life” as major business issues in its Mid-term Plan, incorporates actions for each issue in initiatives of business groups and makes efforts through its businesses.

Social Welfare and Environmental Initiatives

Response to Environmental and Energy Issue

Reduction of CO2 Emissions and Power Consumption

The Bank’s head office in Yotsuya is placed in an environmentally friendly building equipped with highly insulated glass, a natural ventilation system and rooftop greenery. With offices employing LED lighting with automatic dimming controls, we are also working to minimize power consumption. (We reduced the power usage by 100,000 kwh, or 3.4% year on year.)

For our Fuchu annex, we remain focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after it was designated an “Office Taking Excellent Specific Global Warming Countermeasures” in January 2010 under the revised Environment Preservation Ordinance of the Tokyo metropolitan government. Power usage, a major factor of greenhouse gas emissions, has seen a continued decline, this year a reduction of 520,000 kwh, or 6.5% year on year.

In our other offices and branches, we also strive to reduce power consumption through the adjustment of air-conditioning settings and other such measures.

For our company cars (leased), we promote the use of hybrid and other eco-friendly vehicles (which now account for 93% of vehicles).

Recycling of Waste Material

The Bank recycles documents that have reached the end of their storage period (approximately 80 tons annually) and converts data storage media that are no longer required into solid fuel (approximately 100 kg annually), rather than disposing of them by incineration. Through these and other measures, such as the 100 % recycling of non-burnable head office waste (approximately 60 tons annually), the Bank continues to be proactive in the recycling of waste materials.

Business Casual Dress Code

As part of our efforts to reduce the amount of power consumed by air-conditioning and heating, as well as create a more comfortable working environment, employees dress business casual throughout the year, in line with the Ministry of the Environment’s “Cool Biz” and “Warm Biz” initiatives.

Participation in the Ecocap Movement

The Bank has participated in the Ecocap Movement since December 2010. We separate and recycle caps from plastic bottles as part of an initiative to provide vaccines for children around the world, in addition to contributing to the reduction of CO2 released through bottle incineration. In November, in solidarity with the aims of the “Ecocap Week 2019” campaign led by a volunteer group from Meiji University called Tree, we donated prizes to their lottery event wherein participants received raffle tickets in return for bringing in plastic bottle caps.

Active Participation in Renewable Energy-Related Deals

Together with our regional financial institution partners, we share an understanding of the importance of environmental issues and actively support deals, mainly in regional areas, which encourage the adoption and use of renewable energy.

Coal-fired Power Plant Project Finance Policy

As a means of demonstrating its social responsibility as a financial institution, and in concert with initiatives underway in many developed countries aimed at achieving a low or carbon neutral society, Aozora has decided, in principle, to avoid financing projects that involve coal-fired thermal power stations.

In limited situations, the Bank may elect to make an exception for projects that involve facilities with ultra-supercritical efficiency or better, after evaluating the project’s background and other factors. In these limited cases, the Bank will carefully determine whether to pursue financing based on the respective countries’ energy policies and climate change initiatives, as well as international guidelines such as the OECD Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits.

Support for Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures Recommendations

Aozora formally announced its support for the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”) in March 2020. In light of the TCFD's recommendations, Aozora will take steps to further enhance the quality of its communications with trading partners and investors by disclosing additional climate change-related information in the areas of “Governance,” “Strategy,” “Risk Management,” and “Metrics and Targets.”

Partnerships with Various Stakeholders

Support for Countermeasures Against the Spread of COVID-19

In April 2020, to support medical professionals in their efforts to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic, Aozora donated 30 million yen and surgical masks to the All Japan Hospital Association (AJHA).

Support for Areas Affected by Earthquake, Storm and Floods

1. Financial Donations

We make financial donations to assist with the relief and recovery efforts of people and areas affected by natural disasters when they occur.

2. Volunteer Activities of Officers and Employees

We support the volunteer activities of our Group's officers and employees.

3. Holiday Entitlement for Volunteer Activities

The Bank grants volunteer leave to officers and employees who wish to participate in volunteer activities in areas affected by disaster. We are making ongoing efforts to enhance this system.

TABLE FOR TWO Initiative

Since March 2011, we have participated in the TABLE FOR TWO (TFT) program, providing employees the opportunity to donate ¥20 with the purchase of a meal at our head office cafeteria (approximately the price of one school meal in some developing countries). TFT is based on the concept of “table for two,” whereby people from developed countries share a meal with children from developing nations. For the fiscal year ended March 2020, we donated the equivalent of 11,197 meals.

Use of Domestic Furniture in Head Office

In our head office, we use drawing room tables, etc., made of various domestic timbers in collaboration with local furniture manufacturers. This approach aims to support Japan’s forest industry and furniture manufacturers. The head office received a prize in the Social Design category in the “Japan Wood Design Award 2017,” a project subsidized by the Forestry Agency.

Donation of Used Stamps to Volunteer Organizations

Aozora collects and donates used stamps to volunteer organizations to assist people providing care overseas in obtaining funds, medical supplies and other necessities.

Installation of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

We have installed AEDs at our head office and computer center in Fuchu.

Support for Special Olympics Nippon

Special Olympics Nippon (SON) is the Japanese branch of the Special Olympics, an international organization that supports the social participation of people with intellectual disabilities by providing regular sports training and competitions for them to showcase their skills throughout the year. The Bank has helped with the PR activities for SON since May 2010, placing the organization’s “Yell” fund-raising pamphlets for individual donations at our branches.

Sign Language Interpretation Relay Service

We have launched a Sign Language Interpretation Service that will enable our customers with hearing impairment to make full use of Aozora's customer support services, for such things as reporting a lost ATM card.

The new service is provided by PLUSVoice, a company that specializes in the management of call centers with sign language interpretation capabilities. If a customer calls to report a lost ATM card, passbook, certificate or seal with a smartphone or tablet, an interpreter at PLUSVoice communicates in sign language and writing with the customer via video call, while simultaneously relaying the information to an Aozora call center operator.

Installation of Assistive Devices and Wheelchairs in All Sales Branches

We have placed writing and communication boards to enable customers with hearing difficulties to easily convey their requests, as well as COMUOON® tabletop conversation support devices, which improve the hearing of the listener and increase the clarity of the speaker's voice, in all our sales branches. Furthermore, wheelchairs are available for physically disabled or aged people in all our branches.

Initiatives for the Recruitment of Persons with Disabilities

As part of our employment initiatives to support all members of society, we offer job assistance programs for those with disabilities seeking stable employment, including a career transition support office.

We gave a presentation about our initiatives at the 27th Research and Practice Workshop on Vocational Rehabilitation, hosted by the Japan Organization for Employment of the Elderly, Persons with Disabilities and Job Seekers, an independent administrative institution in Japan.

Promoting Human Rights Awareness

We established Aozora's Human Rights Enlightenment Committee and provide training programs on human rights issues annually to all our employees to create a corporate culture in which human rights are respected.

We also actively participate in the human rights training and awareness activities through the Industrial Federation for Human Rights in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities as well as slogan activities held by the Japanese Bankers Association and Industrial Federation for Human Rights, Tokyo.

Development of a Healthy Economy and Society (Developing Closer Regional Relationships)

Specialized Financing Support Program for Corporate Customers Impacted by COVID-19

Aozora has begun offering specialized consulting to companies adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, Aozora began offering up to 30 million yen in special purpose loans to its trading partners in April 2020.

Support for Finance Operations of Regional Medical Institutions

We support medical institutions' finance operations, which are crucial to regional healthcare. We arrange funding and conduct situational analyses for medical institutions.

Cleanup Efforts in Chiyoda Ward

In addition to cleaning the area around our head office, we also take part in the Chiyoda Ward cleanup days held annually in June and November to increase people’s awareness about keeping the ward clean, as well as to promote beautification.

Sprinkling Water to Mitigate the Urban “Heat Island” Effect

In August, when power conservation is a particular concern, we occasionally participate in an annual water-sprinkling event held by Chiyoda Ward.

Sapporo Branch: Taking Part in Local Cleanup Efforts

Our Sapporo Branch takes part in the “Tsukiichi” cleanup initiative, run by the Sapporo Ekimae-dori Association since 2015, and branch employees use their lunch breaks to help clean the area around Ekimae-dori Street, popular with tourists from both within Japan and abroad.

Kyoto Branch: Participating in the “Gion Matsuri” Festival

Our Kyoto Branch participates in the “yamahoko” float parade and the selling of “chimaki” good luck charms during the Gion Matsuri festival, contributing to the preservation of regional culture.

Kanazawa Branch: Participating in Local Flower Planting Project

The Bank’s Kanazawa Branch participates in the City of Kanazawa’s “Hana Ippai” project, helping to plant flowers along Hyakumangoku Street.

Sendai Branch: Participating in Volunteer Activities

The Sendai Branch occasionally joins volunteer activities including the “Coastal Forest Recovery Project Relating to the Great East Japan Earthquake,” run by the public-interest incorporated foundation OISCA. For the fiscal year ended March 2020, we participated in digging irrigation trenches in July.

Participation in Local Events around Jiyugaoka

The Financial Oasis Jiyugaoka (sub-office of the Shibuya Branch) participates in seasonal events organized by the Jiyugaoka Association of Business Commerce.

In addition to the Jiyugaoka Association of Business Commerce, a local university also participates in running events as part of its seminar group activities. The seminar group contributes ideas such as member restaurants of the Jiyugaoka Restaurant Association creating special dishes to help promote local specialty goods of our regional financial institution partners, in addition to various other PR activities. The Bank has provided the use of its Oasis Room (a multipurpose space), located on the ground floor, for these seminars.

While the Oasis Room has not been available to the public since March 2020, we are currently developing new initiatives to continue supporting local events.

Response to Changing Age Demographics

Dementia Supporter Training for Sales Staff

To offer support to people with dementia and their family members, all our retail sales staff are certified as dementia supporters under an initiative promoted by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Our sales staff are trained to properly understand dementia, as well as the behavior and language used by people with dementia. This training enables our sales staff to respond appropriately to customers with dementia, and contributes to our staff’s overall understanding of the Bank’s senior-generation customers.

Joint Research with Sophia University

Since September 2017, we have released the “Aozora-Sophia Senior Consumption Trend Index” every month as a product of our joint research on senior consumer trends and seniors' willingness to purchase goods. We also announced the launch of a joint research project with a focus on financial gerontology in July 2019.

Learning and Research Opportunities for Students and Researchers from Sophia University

In May 2017, we relocated our head office to the Sophia Tower on the Sophia University campus. We take this opportunity to provide university students and researchers with finance-themed learning, research and work experience opportunities. We also aim to support the enhancement of financial literacy among the next generation through internships aimed at Sophia University students and lectures at the Faculty of Economics on the basics of banking, taught by the Bank's officers and employees.

Participation in Internship Programs Offered by Meiji University, Sophia University and Nagoya University

In solidarity with the aims of Meiji University, Sophia University and Nagoya University’s School of Law internship programs, the Bank regularly accepts students for work experience. The program supports the career development of many students and provides them with university credits for their degrees.

Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program for New Employees

Aozora will provide a new student loan repayment assistance benefit program for young employees who obtained student loans to finance college and graduate school studies. The goal of this program is to create a comfortable, fulfilling workplace environment and promote the hiring of talented staff. Eligible employees will receive assistance benefits every year for three years after they join the company.

Stakeholder Communication

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Communication with Shareholders

Shareholder and Investor Relations

Aozora engages in investor relations activities in order to ensure clear and regular communications with its shareholders and investors. In addition to holding meetings with institutional and foreign investors, analyst meetings and teleconferences, in FY2019 the Bank hosted 17 presentations in major cities across Japan to help retail investors and shareholders better understand Aozora Bank. These meetings include Q&A sessions for those in attendance.

Shareholders' Meeting

On June 24, 2020, the 87th General Meeting of Shareholders was held in the Diamond Room of the Hotel Grand Palace located in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. This year we were required to have sufficient space between chairs to allow for social distancing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, this constraint significantly reduced the seating capacity compared to previous years, limiting the number of attendees allowed inside the venue to 34. In addition, shareholders were asked to preregister their attendance. During the Q&A session, in addition to the pre-planned questions and comments received from non-attendees, we also received questions and comments regarding GMO Aozora Net Bank's products and services. A video of this year's General Meeting has been uploaded to the Aozora website.

Aozora Dispatch

The Bank publishes a twice-yearly newsletter for shareholders entitled “Aozora Dispatch.” Aozora Dispatch is an excellent vehicle for communicating with shareholders and includes a management message together with an overview of the most recent earnings results. Also included are articles on relevant topics and highlights of the Bank's branch offices. Starting with the 2020 summer issue released this June, Aozora Dispatch is available via the Aozora website as we have ended publishing of the print edition in order to be more environmentally conscious.

Communication with Employees

Town Hall Meeting

The Town Hall meeting was held on December 20, 2019 at Lecture Hall 101 of the Sophia Tower Yotsuya headquarters. The meeting was attended by approximately 700 officers and employees of the Aozora Group as well as approximately 800 officers and employees from each of the branch offices across Japan and overseas via a video meeting system. The meeting agenda included rebuilding our corporate culture, redefining Aozora's management philosophy, facilitating communication, and the outline of “Aozora Structural Reform”, our new human resources reform program.

Small Meetings

Beginning in January, 2020, we held 33 small meetings as a way to facilitate communication between employees and officers of the Bank. The meetings were held at the head office, branch locations, and Aozora Group companies, with each meeting facilitated by one executive officer and approximately 20-30 officers and employees. In addition to discussions about Aozora's management philosophy, attendees asked questions and offered opinions on a range of topics which led to quality discussions.

Weekly Message from EOs

Starting in January, 2020, every week one of our executive officers is given the opportunity to address all of Aozora's employees regarding their personal thoughts and expectations. These messages supplement communications with the officers leading their individual divisions and further facilitate communication by helping employees get to know other divisions better by hearing from company leaders with whom they may have limited regular contact.

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