Apr 2022

‘Sanpō Yoshi’ and the Economics of Mutuality in Japan

Published April 2022

The concept of purpose-driven management is not unusual in Japan, the world’s third largest economy, where many companies adhere to ‘sanpō yoshi’, which directly translates as ‘three-way satisfaction’. The objective of this principle, stretching back as far as the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) and the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912), is for companies to engage in transactions that generate positive results for the buyer, the seller, and for society.

Therefore, when Bruno Roche recently shared the Economics of Mutuality management and investment innovation with a Japanese audience, it certainly resonated. Its purpose of ‘completing capitalism by creating a mutuality of benefits among all stakeholders‘ chimed with attitudes towards business that have been shaped by ‘sanpō yoshi’ over the years.

Bruno was speaking at a Special Session for Social Impact Day 2021, a virtual event organized by the Social Impact Management Initiative (SIMI), a foundation based in Japan. Alongside Yumiko Kajiwara, Chief Sustainability Officer of Fujitsu, he addressed the theme of ‘Purpose-Driven Management and Social Impact’ with a group of business people, researchers, government officials, and NGO workers.

Bruno highlighted four key factors capable of shifting the economic system from financial capitalism to a more mutual purpose-driven capitalism:

  • New forms of scarcities are accelerating the need for a new economic model. Fifty years ago, financial capital was scarce, while natural and social capital were seemingly abundant. In contrast, financial capital is overly abundant today.

  • New regulations on sustainability reporting standards are progressing in many regions. Notably, regulations within the EU will will impact 50,000 companies by 2024.

  • A new generation of business leaders want to join companies with purpose.

  • A new movement within civil society is unwilling to accept an economic system that works for a few at the expense of the majority.

During the Q&A session, the audience asked questions about how the Economics of Mutuality offers concrete approaches to put purpose into practice. For example, how it can be used to measure and integrate impact at the heart of business management.

Moderator and President of SIMI, Katsuji Imata, introduced Completing Capitalism: Heal Business to Heal the World, a book co-authored by Bruno and Jay Jakub. He also announced that Chapter 1 of the recently released Oxford University Press book Putting Purpose into Practice: The Economics of Mutuality has been translated and made freely available to read in Japanese.

An article reporting on the session was published on Yahoo Japan. It describes how the Economics of Mutuality has ‘created a global trend in purpose management’.

Following on from this event, Bruno will be speaking at the upcoming Responsible Investor Japan conference taking place in Toyko and online on 25th May. Click the button below to find out more and register.


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