Nihon Rikagaku Industry Co.

[Kawasaki Factory]2-15-10 Kuji, Takatsu-ku, Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa 213-0032 [Bibai Factory]3-2-10 Tomeinijo, Bibai-shi, Hokkaido 072-0804

- Another Mission of Nihon Rikagaku -

We Nihon Rikagaku Industry co.,ltd. is a manufacturer of chalks which are used at schools, with 62 of employees with intellectual disabilities out of all 83 employees (including 27 severely disabled employees with below IQ50).

Our company was founded in 1937, and in 1960 we started intellectual disability employment with hiring 2 employees. The reason we aimed to realize multiple intellectual disability employments was a teaching from Zen priest, saying, "the real bliss of human being is not receiving thorough care from someone, but it is 1) to be loved, 2) to be praised, 3) to be of help to the people, and 4) to be needed by the people; welfare facility does not necessarily make human being happy, but it is the company to help people through labor that makes human being happy."

We established Kawasaki Factory with a keen voice from the Labor Ministry utilizing financing facility to promote model-factory for hiring multiple severely disabled people, which was 4 years before subsidy system for employment promotion of persons with disabilities was introduced. Condition of the loan to hire 50% of people with disabilities, whose half number should be of severely disabled. Term of loan was 20 years, with interest rate 4.6%.

That was the start, and that is why we have today's proportion of employees.

We have already cleared off the 20-year loan while keeping up with municipal minimum wage payment. With the intellectual disabled employees' persistent effort having begun even before the government's Job Coach system was introduced, now we are proud with the status as Japan's top chalk manufacturer producing more than 30% of industry's share. More importantly, we are proud to be a proven model that the severely disabled people can also be a precious work force for companies.

Until now, we have had precious realizations from the people with disabilities that we might not have had in the general society, which goes beyond topics of our work; how a human being ought to lead life, course of society, and nations. I believe it is another mission that we Nihon Rikagaku have got  to share those realizations with as many people as possible, as follows;

1. Since we Nihon Rikagaku is an employer of the severely disabled people, we focus on arranging work environment to let them to perform to meet with their existing ability rather than taking time to train them to fit with our work method, as long as they meet our recruitment standards, a) able to do personal care on their own, b) able to respond, at least in a simple way, c) willing to work with heart and soul, d) not causing trouble to people around.

For example, weight measurement of materials can be done using weight of the same color container rather than reading characters or numbers, and work pace can be kept using hourglass, etc. Once they can do their work with their existing power of understanding, they can feel joy of being helpful, and they can focus on their work, just as the Zen priest told me.

2. There were some important realizations given by the visitors.
1) In the thanks letter from some 5th grade student, there was a line saying, "I realized that the God has given ability to each person that anyone can be of help for people in the society." It made me realize that the God has created human beings that can feel joy of helping others, and once people around (at the company) help for her/him to fulfill the task, s/he can focus on it and eventually becomes her/his ability. I thought this was an important lesson to know the importance of company's role.
2) When a Hungarian journalist looked at our working process, she told us, "Japanese companies have craftsmen-like culture. We Europeans learn things from manuals so the people who do not read characters cannot be subject of employment from the first stage." Having her mention that our step-by-step communication taking them by the hand is from craftsmen-like culture, I realized that Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises should take this method so that many of people with disabilities can work.

3. On an occasion of awarding Shibusawa Eiichi Prize in 2009, while we could not even make any monetary donations, we were taught that the reason for awarding this prize was having made more than a billion yen of contribution to the society for hiring 5 employees until they reach more than 60 years of age; if you are to take care of the disabled who cannot normally work in the present society keeping them at welfare facility for 40 years from 20 to 60 years of age, it costs 200 million yen per person. It made me realize how the intellectual disability employment can contribute to the economy, too.

4. Having built a model-factory, I had an opportunity to go on a study tour to Belgium to see intellectual disability employment situation in Europe. There I learned that the national government subsidizes minimum wages, if the company keeps offering the work opportunities to the people who are unable to work in the general society, to help their self-sustainability. The Constitution of Japan states that all people have got obligation to work, as well as its right. In that sense it does not seem to be right to keep people with disabilities in welfare facility saying that they are unable to work in the society. I realized that we should introduce a system like Belgium to prepare workplace for them.

5. Moreover, I realized that a possible introduction of Belgium system could bring advantage to all four parties  people with disabilities, companies, the national government and the public. Here are the reasons; the people with disabilities can gain joy of work to be able to help others, and they can securely receive minimum wage around 120 thousand yen from the national government, the companies can secure intellectual disabled employees' wages from the national government by giving them guidance how to work effectively based on craftsmanship-like culture, and the employees' effort will lead to companies' profit, as the result the companies can strengthen management practices. For the national government the subsidy to keep the people with disabilities is around 5 million yen per person, while minimum wage the government should cover is around 1.5 million yen under Belgium system. That means 3.5 million-yen cost reduction to the government. And for the public, especially for the parents of the disabled can loosen their concerns for the future, and if they can become independent it will help the public by local revitalization. It is indeed, advantage for all four parties.

6. Once this Belgium system is introduced to the small and medium-sized companies, it will be a good training measure for those companies, while the national government pursuit its obligation to create work place at the same time. On the subject of intellectual disability employment, the government allows exceptional subsidiary company system instead of requesting 1.8% employment rate to the corporate parent. If the government can also introduce exceptional company system for the small and medium-sized companies, to facilitate work place arrangement for the people who are unable to work in the general society, I am confident that we can create convivial society where everyone can participate to help each others.

It is our Nihon Rikagaku’s employees with intellectual disabilities that led me realize those proposals to make the better country where everyone can become happy. I believe it is our Nihon Rikagaku’s mission to share those realizations to as many people as possible, moreover to realize the better society by obtaining broad support from the people. I sincerely remain hopeful for every one of your support.

Chairman Yasuhiro Oyama