Asia Scope

Green Cocktails from Japan! Take Note, Copenhagen.

Ahead of the upcoming UN climate summit, I thought I’d turn to some positive news from one participating country—Japan.

Among the sea of casual late-night dining spots (called ‘izakayas’) in Tokyo, there’s one chain that stands out for its philanthropic efforts. Those of us who have visited Japan may well have dined at (or at least caught sight of) a Watami restaurant. There are over 600 sprinkled around the country, and a Watami izakaya can be found at nearly every train stop in central Tokyo.

Watami Co. has announced the results of its ‘carbon off-set cocktail’ campaign that lasted for 10 days this summer. The result is: 30,180 glasses sold. And, with 1 kilogram of CO2 to be offset for each, the total carbon offset was 30 tons. The company has pledged to donate the profits to NPOs. It has also bought 15 tons of emissions credits from a wind power generation project in Argentina.

The 25-year old Watami Co. was started by CEO Miki Watanabe, who was just 24 years-old at the time. Since then, he’s expanded Watami from its original food and beverage line to other areas and industries such as nursing care and organic farming.

Watanabe was also named one of Forbes’ 48 Asian Altruists 2008, in part for launching his own NPO, School Aid Japan, in 2001 to build schools in Cambodia and Nepal ‘after (becoming) outraged by how another group doing similar work was misusing his contributions.’ The entrepreneur also donates royalties from his numerous books and lecture fees (for which he can fetch up to $18,500 an hour) to related causes, and he keeps a strict policy of tracing every yen sent from supporters.

Watami Group’s official slogan is ‘to receive the most number of thank-yous in the world’. To do this, it follows a 10-point code of conduct:

1.      Always be humble and grateful.

2.      Share the joys and sorrows of others.

3.      Keep promises and tell no lies.

4.      Make no complaints and spread no gossip.

5.      Greet with spirit and a smile.

6.      Never say never.

7.      Do not push failures onto others.

8.      Dare to say that can’t be done.

9.      Listen to others.

10.  Put away embarrassment.

What would happen if this was the official guideline for conduct for participants of the Copenhagen summit?