Japanese giant aims to balance growth in the mainland with environmental responsibility With many of their manufacturing assembly lines being moved to China, Japanese firms are expected to step up their environmental and social development programmes in the mainland, a Japanese business leader says. Yotaro Kobayashi, outspoken chairman of the board at Tokyo-based document management and copier giant Fuji Xerox, said that trend had emerged as 'China becomes more important to the strategic operations' of many large Japanese companies. He said Fuji Xerox had moved to 'study and understand market needs' in the mainland, which had resulted in balancing the growth of manufacturing and sales activities with a fundamental commitment to enhancing community relations and environmental management. Founded in 1962, Fuji Xerox is a joint venture between United States-based Xerox Corp and Fuji Photo Film. Xerox owns 25 per cent of Fuji Xerox while Fuji Photo Film owns 75 per cent. Last November, Fuji Xerox said it was building a new plant specifically for the manufacture of emulsion aggregation (EA) toners in Japan. The production of EA toners will allow the company to reduce harmful carbon-dioxide emission in the manufacturing process while achieving higher print quality for its imaging products. With plans to incorporate EA toner in all its new office copiers and multifunction machines, Fuji Xerox estimated demand for the toner would exceed manufacturing capacity this year. To meet demand, the company has pushed to double its production capacity by expanding manufacturing operations in Shanghai. Its other production facility is in Shenzhen. The second factory in Shanghai would handle roughly 90 per cent of Fuji Xerox's total manufacturing volume in China this year. The Fuji Xerox operation in Shenzhen this month announced it had achieved 'zero waste' by reusing waste and parts produced in the course of its manufacturing activities. The company defined zero waste as a waste landfill rate of 0.5 per cent (by weight) or lower. This includes maintaining a recycling rate of 99.5 per cent or higher for three consecutive months. Mr Kobayashi said these development initiatives took into account 'the various stakeholders' of Fuji Xerox, 'including our customers, partners and the communities where we operate'. As China increasingly became Japan's most important trading partner, he said, Japanese firms should strengthen human resources development in the mainland through academic and corporate exchange programmes and put greater emphasis on Chinese-language education for Japanese executives. Those are initiatives he has also championed in his other role as chairman of the influential Keizai Doyukai, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. But Mr Kobayashi's efforts to promote greater awareness in Japan of its Asian neighbours recently met hostile opposition. The day after he was interviewed by the South China Morning Post, Japanese media reported that an envelope containing what appeared to be a bullet was sent to his Tokyo home. Early this year, two handmade firebombs were found beside the entrance to his residence. Nobody has claimed responsibility for the threats, but Mr Kobayashi was reportedly the object of protest by Japanese right-wing groups because of his remarks about Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to the Yasukuni Shrine last autumn. Many Asians, particularly in China and South Korea, see the war shrine as representing Japan's military past and the many atrocities committed in Asian countries during the second world war.