Japan Inc is waking up to environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics as part of running their businesses and corporate venturing is increasingly the tool to achieve change.

The latest Yamaha Motor Company, a Japan-listed transport conglomerate, has announced it will next year set up a $100m investment fund focused on the environment.

The fund will seek potential business partners and startups for collaborations as part of Yamaha’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality throughout all of its business activities, including across the lifecycles of its products, by 2050.

Jim Aota, CEO of its corporate venturing unit, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV), which will manage the fund, said: “We publicly announced that we create $100m fund for environment tech. This is our course of actions for achieving carbon neutrality.

“We need to connect with the people/companies that we can share objectives. I do not think that $100m is not enough. I do not believe that only Yamaha Motor can deliver the result. We are happy to be an enabler to create the world where we want to save for our next generations.”

Yamaha’s move follows Japanese bellwethers, such as Sony, Toyota, TDK and Hitachi, that have set up ESG-focused funds or used their corporate venturing units with sustainability factors built in. (On 26 July, growth incubator Mach49 will hold another of its Insight Sessions at the GCV Digital Forum on “meeting the green investing imperative” – pre-register here – while Alistair Dormer, head of Hitachi’s environmental initiatives as well as mobility is expected to be a speaker at the GCV Symposium around COP26 on 3 November.)

They, however, remain the outliers. Analysts found less than 5% for the 2,000 or so companies listed within the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s first section used ESG to affect annual executive pay compared with 52% of S&P 500 companies and 63% of companies listed on the main European indices, according to Willis Towers Watson research quoted by the Financial Times.

James Mawson

James Mawson is founder and chief executive of Global Venturing.