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“No Charity, But a Chance"

The Social Capital Lecture Series, a collaboration between Tote Board and the Harvard Singapore Foundation, brings inspirational thought leaders and practitioners to Singapore to share their experiences and knowledge, with a view to (a) stimulate discussion on emerging social trends and (b) enhance capacity building for the non-profit/ social service sectors.

In the recent Social Capital Lecture Series held at Livewire at Marina Bay Sands on 4th June 2012, Dr. Taro Nakamura, the President of Japan Sun Industries (JSI) and his team shared their insights on how physical disadvantages do not conflict with the ability to work and lead productive lives.

Leaders from various organisations, including ministries, statutory boards, banks and the non-profit and social services sector of Singapore gathered to understand the success story of JSI, which employs approximately 1,000 staff with disabilities and 600 non-disabled staff.
JSI’s motto is “No Charity, but A Chance”, and Dr. Nakamura has successfully translated this into a business that supports the disadvantaged within the JSI family; through training and the use of innovative technology to harness the disadvantaged individuals’ abilities and operate on a commercial basis.

To overcome the challenges faced by JSI in order to exist as a business entity or corporation since its inception in 1965, JSI sought to further its cause by playing an active role in organising international sporting events for people with disabilities. The first FESPIC (Far East and South Pacific) Games which was held in Oita, Japan, with a view to promote disability sports in 1975, gave JSI much exposure and support. The Games has since gained much momentum throughout Asia and has further espoused JSI’s philosophy of empowering people with disabilities.
JSI has also successfully created joint ventures with several companies, as shared by Mr. Yasuhiko Tokuda, President of Mitsubishi Shoji & Sun Co. Ltd, which is one of the joint ventures of JSI’s. The firm provides people with disabilities the opportunity to work within the IT sector.

The talk was concluded by Mr. Yamashita Tatsuo, Managing Director (General Affairs) of Mitsubishi Shoji & Sun Co. Ltd, who provided an inspiring insight into his life story as a wheelchair-bound polio patient employed by JSI despite his disabilities, thereby allowing him to earn his own living and realise his dream of starting a family.