For Aso Group, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is about how we contribute to leading changes to create a better society. We commit at all times to operating our business in a responsible and sustainable manner to make a positive contribution to the society. Aso Group demonstrates our commitment and respect to people in the society through a range of CSR activities including:
Wheelchair Tennis is one of the forms of tennis played in wheelchairs, which is adapted for those who have disabilities. It appeared at the Paralympics for the first time in Barcelona in 1992.
The Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships was first held in 1985, in presence of his honorable Prince Tomohito of Mikasa. At that time, the wheelchair tennis was not widely known among the public and therefore it was not easy to acquire finance and human resources to support the event. Despite such difficulties, the tournament was realized under the leadership of Yutaka Aso, the CEO of Aso Cement, who took a role as a chairperson and also with the support of the lizuka Rotary Club. Yutaka Aso, currently the chairperson of the Kyushu Wheelchair Tennis Association, took the leading role in order to promote the social inclusion of people with disabilities whilst simultaneously helping revitalize the city of Iizuka, an old cold mining area. In 1986, Kyushu Wheelchair Association, the first wheelchair tennis association, was established.
In 2004, the Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships was promoted to a super series championships, the world top series in the wheel chair tennis division of International Tennis Federation (ITF), for the first time in Asian region. As of 2013, 29 championships have been held and there are currently participants from 18 countries and 1 region, and a total of 137 players. It has become Iizuka’s world-class sport event.
Recently, Japanese players are showing excellent results. Shingo Kunieda, men’s singles player, won 6 years in a row (2006 -2011), and also in 2013, Yui Kamiji, women’s singles player, won for the first time.
One of the main features of the Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships is that it is operated by local companies and volunteers from financing to holding the event. During the championships, more than 2,000 volunteers, including local residents, local municipal offices, local companies, students and children, support the event. They hold welcome receptions, support games as linesman, judges, interpreters, transporters and take care of the players and other participants.
The Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships is highly evaluated because of this major participation of volunteers and a high sense of hospitality. “Iizuka style” has come be known across the globe and visitors from other countries come to learn about the event.
Aso Group has been supporting the Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships not only financially but also through providing the office for the Kyushu Wheel Chair Association. Aso Group also supports the hosting of championships every year through various activities such as providing food, wheel chair vehicles and buses for players.
Aso Group continues to be a supporter of the Iizuka International Wheelchair Tennis Championships, in order to contribute to promoting wheel chair tennis for people with disabilities, social initiatives, a better quality of life and the revitalization of Iizuka.
Promoting social inclusion – “C’s Athlete”, employment center for persons with disabilities
C’s Athlete was founded by Aso Humaney Center (a human resources service company in Aso Group) in 2005 with the aim of creating employment opportunities for disabled athletes and promoting sports for persons with disabilities. C’s Athlete’s “C” stands for “challengers”, hoping that it will become a place for people who always take on a challenge.
The story behind the foundation of C’s Athlete was that Masae Komiya, a goalball player came to Aso Humaney Center to get registered for a temp job, just after coming back from the Athen’s Paralympics. She was looking for a temp job as it is easier to manage securing time for training.
Through her visit, Aso Humaney Center realized for the first time that there were not many athletes with disabilities who have support from sponsors and government support was not sufficient. In addition, Aso Humaney Center also discovered that they were having difficulties to find time for daily training and getting extended leave to join training camps or going on tour, if they were to have a full time job.
This motivated Aso Humaney Center to establish C’s Athlete, so that they could help solve challenges in training and work environment for athletes with disabilities.
Currently, there are 6 athletes at C’s Athlete including goalball, wheel chair marathon and wheel chair tennis players, most of whom are Paralympic medalists. They are managing to balance between work and training, aiming for competing in the world stage.
C’s Athlete and the athletes are supported by not only local companies and individuals in Fukuoka, but also supporters from nationwide. As of September 2013, we have 62 corporate supporters and more than 400 individual supporters. Aso Group companies have also been supporting C’s Athlete as corporate supporters.
Through these athletes, Aso Humaney Center strives to bring out inspiration and courage to as many as people, promote sports for the disabled and nurture future athletes. At the same time, Aso Humaney Center continues to help improving understanding between people with and without disabilities while enlightening people about the importance of social inclusion through providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The athletes at C’s Athlete are taking on a challenge every day to set an example as a good member of a society for their juniors, so that they can contribute to accomplish their mission to help children with disabilities to become independent.
Aso Global Talent Internship Program
Since 2012, Aso Corporation has been offering “Aso Global Talent Internship”, an internship program for international students and local students across universities in Kyushu to help cultivate a view of career and work, in partnership with Kyushu Council on Global Human Resource for Industry. In this program, students develop business solutions in a team, based on a project-based learning method.
Students with high global-mindset have a great potential to lead a globalization of local economy. However, there are only a few opportunities where international students can build experience in working for Japanese companies. Even though finding a first job is an important turning point of his/her life, many of those students are concerned about language or cultural barriers due to the lack of working experience with Japanese companies.
Our internship program is aimed at helping students cultivate a view of career and work, so that they become interested in working at local companies in Kyushu area. Until now, there were 26 students from universities in the Kyushu area, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Vietnam. In the internship program, they are asked to work in a mixed team of Japanese and international students. Then, they create a business plan to enter into overseas markets in relation to the businesses which Aso Group currently operates. Through developing the business plan, students have opportunities to gain work experience and professional skills through company visits, marketing research and other activities required to complete the business plan. At the end of the program, students are to present their business plan to the management of Aso Group.
Some students discovered their strengths and weaknesses or their future goals, after getting inspired from students from diverse backgrounds in creating a plan together. At the same time, it is a valuable opportunity for our Group to receive honest feedback about our future potential, company culture and our employees.
In order to be better prepared for the changing market, Aso Group continues to help develop global talents through the internship program.
Note) Students from the following universities participated in the Aso International Internship Program in 2012 and 2013: Kyushu University, Kyushu Institute of Technology, Fukuoka Women’s University, University of Kitakyushu, Kumamoto University, Seinan Gakuin University, Fukuoka University, Waseda University and Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University
Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka (APCC) was founded in 1989 and it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013. The APCC is a civic movement to promote international exchange, aiming at fostering “Global Citizens”, who can respect and understand others beyond national boundaries with the OMOIYARI spirit.
The APCC’s main activities are to invite children from Asia-pacific countries with their chaperons (290 participants from 32 countries in 2013) and also to send children in Fukuoka to Asia-pacific countries, which are conducted in spring and autumn.
In 1992, the APCC Supporters’ Association was officially established, consisting of volunteers, groups and companies who support their activities. Since its launch, Yutaka Aso, CEO of Aso Cement, the current Chairperson of APCC, has been involved as a member of the association. Under the support of APCC Supporters’ Association, APCC has been actively engaged in helping develop “Global Citizens”, who can bridge the world through its international exchange programs for Japanese children and children from overseas.
At Aso Group, 12 of our companies and organizations support their programs every year. We provide support mainly for international exchange programs and home-stay programs held in Iizuka city. With our young staff as core supporters, we support the program as part of the annual activity called “Chikyukko Network” (translation: Children of the Earth Network), a local volunteer group founded in 1996 by the Kyushu Institute of Technology. Aso Group also provides support for this volunteer group, by offering office space withinof the Aso Corporation.
Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention in Fukuoka