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COVID-19 offers Japan’s firms a chance to shine

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Singapore – Japanese, American, Singaporean and other business leaders, take note. Committing to models of virtuosity, sustainability and the strongest environment, social and governance (ESG) standards when times are good is one thing.

Adhering to these principles when the going gets tough is another matter and will not be easy. Civil society must be engaged and governments will have to play a role, whether through policy changes or direct or indirect financial support.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the Indo-Pacific region, displacing populations, challenging governments and healthcare systems, and even stretching the limits of “conscious capitalism” in some of the world’s most developed economies. This includes in both Japan and the United States.

Even wealthy Singapore, with its exemplary governance, infrastructure, and business environment, has faced challenges. We see this firsthand as the city state is home to the Milken Institute Asia Center, where we both serve as fellows of this non-profit, non-partisan economic think tank.

During this public health crisis, the best — and not necessarily just the biggest — companies and large family firms in Singapore, Japan and across Asia should step forward and up in their treatment of employees at home and abroad. Business owners, executives and investors can help ensure that long-touted ESG leadership is not simply a buzzword from when times are good.

Luckily, Japan has not seen the huge spikes in unemployment and underemployment that the U.S. has seen. According to a report in The New York Times,........

© The Japan Times