In the days following the Great East Japan Earthquake and in the months since, Sony has engaged its employees and has undertaken a number of activities, working closely with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) to contribute to immediate relief efforts and long-term recovery.
1. Support at Sony sites in disaster-hit areas
Sony sites in disaster-hit areas took prompt steps to assist displaced local residents. The damaged Tagajo Plant provided food and shelter to approximately 100 local residents who sought refuge at the upper floors of the flooded facility in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Plant staff also assisted with relief efforts at the local volunteer center. The Tagajo Plant is also working with local authorities and is planning to lend certain site buildings to local businesses and temporarity assign certain staff members to assist and support officials.
Sony Sendai Technology Center (located in the city of Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture) was itself heavily damaged in the earthquake and Tsunami. Nevertheless, in parallel with the work aimed at resumption of the Technology Center's operations, its employees began taking part in relief activities at the volunteer center run by the local social welfare council on April 6, in order to assist recovery in neighboring districts, which were also heavily damaged. It is projected that, by the middle of July, an extended total of about 35 employees have been involved in work such as acceptance of volunteers and lending of materials at the Center for about a week by rotation.
The people who drove the cars to carry volunteers to and from the sites are themselves generally volunteers. They reportedly had a lot of trouble getting around and drove around with a map in one hand. At the suggestion of employees on the sites who witnessed these difficulties in the car, we donated portable navigation devices to the affected areas, and have heard that they are loved by the drivers, who find them very convenient.
■Comments by participating employees
There was a long queue in front of the desk for registration of volunteers. During Golden Week, a long national holiday in Japan in May, more than 400 volunteers a day were registered.
It was deeply moving to learn that so many people wanted to volunteer from all parts of Japan, from Hokkaido in the north all the way to Okinawa in the south, and even from other countries. I decided that I, too, had to find something I could do to assist recovery from the disaster.
2. Emergency relief provided by the Sony Group
In addition to donating a total of $5 million, the Sony Group provided emergency aid supplies in the days following the disaster, including 30,000 radios and 500,000 dry cell batteries.
3. Matching gift program to support employee contributions and fundraising programs for customers
Approximately 74,000 Sony employees and former employees in more than 50 countries and territories donated a total of approximately $5.5 million directly to relief efforts. With an additional $5.5 million raised through a special matching gift program, whereby Sony matched employee donations, the total of $11 million was donated for disaster relief and recovery.*1 Fundraising programs with customers, such as direct donation from PlayStation®Network (PSN) accounts and Sony Point program and So-net Point service, raised an additional $2.5 million from approximately 300,000 participants.*2
4. Donated the proceeds from the sales of Songs for Japan, a charity compilation album, to support the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Sony Music Entertainment cooperated with other major record companies* to produce a charity compilation album, Songs for Japan, with the proceeds from the sales of the album donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.
5. Employee volunteer efforts
More than 900* Sony employees have volunteered to assist with relief efforts in areas affected by the disaster. Sony will continue to encourage participation in volunteer initiatives in a manner that reflects local needs and the progress of recovery.
Participation in business community volunteer program
In response to a call by the Keidanren One Percent Club*1, Sony recruited employees to volunteer for a program organized by the Joint Committee for Supporting Voluntary Disaster Relief Activities. Participants were dispatched to affected areas, where they assisted with a variety of efforts, including the removal of mud and rubble, as requested by local volunteer centers. Debriefing sessions were held afterward to enable participants to report on their activities and widen the circle of support. A cumulative total of 95 employees have volunteered for this program.,*2
■Comments by participating employees
The destruction was tremendous-even more than I had expected. It took 20 of us working for a whole day to finally clean up just one house. Seeing the damage firsthand made the scenes I had previously seen only on television very real and immediate to me. It made me think about what we could do to help out from now on. The volunteer work was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I was glad that I had taken part. I also want to relate this experience of mine to others inside and outside the company, and widen the circle of relief and assistance.
Program organized by concerned employees
With the aim of widening the circle of support, participants in the business community volunteer program plan and administer a program that enables employees to use their holidays and weekends to volunteer in disaster-hit areas. Approximately 90* employees have participated in the program in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures.
Support for local recovery through football
The members of the football team Sony Sendai FC wanted to do what they could to help bring smiles back to the faces of children in affected areas. While working for resumption of operations in the company, they consequently decided shortly after the earthquake to take turns holding football classes for children in shelters on their own initiative. In the city of Tagajo, they also sponsored public viewing of the first home match played by J-League team Vegalta Sendai together with the Solar Bear Fund *. As this indicates, they are actively taking part in various events and assisting local recovery through football.
■Comments by participating players
I went to the shelter with the intention of lifting the spirits of the children there, but found myself, on the contrary, cheered by the smiles of the children I encountered. I realized that, through these activities, volunteers not only give things to others but also learn things from others. I hope to continue taking an active part in them. (Excerpted from the official Sony Sendai FC blog, Takahito Seta (MF), posted on March 25).
Two months have passed since the earthquake struck. There are still many people living under very difficult conditions in the affected areas. I have no doubt that each and every one of them is refusing to lose heart and doing his or her best to usher in recovery at the earliest possible date. That's why I, too, am determined to do what I can to help them out, even if only a little.
We gained a precious experience during the two months when we were unable to have football matches. I went to Ishinomaki to help with the removal of rubble and mud. I played football with the children at Matsugahama Elementary School in the town of Shichigahama and the cultural center in the city of Tagajo, and collected donations for the victims before our match with the Vegalta squad. I met various people, and they all were full of vitality - they gave me a lot of power. (Excerpted from the official Sony Sendai FC blog, Kazuyuki Maeda (MF), posted on May 25).
Support for reconditioning of laboratory space at Tohoku University
Tohoku University, which partners with Sony Corporation in activities such as joint research, suffered extensive damage in the disaster. To assist the resumption of these research activities at the earliest possible date, Sony sent seven employees with the requisite expertise to the University to help with the work of putting laboratories back in order over the period May 11-13. The seven assisted with the tasks of checking and packaging high-cost supplies that had fallen off shelves, shipping of items requiring repair, checking of the action of equipment such as measurement devices and power packs thought to have been damaged, and relocation to a new laboratory.
■Comments by participating employees
As a result of the earthquake, precision measurement devices and optical components tipped over or fell off shelves in the laboratory and were scattered over the floor. The huge earthquake left deep scars, and cast a pall of uncertainty over future research activities. After we had completed the activities to help out, we received words of thanks from the laboratory head for the major progress made on the road to resumption of research and recovery. He also mentioned his conviction that the recovery and research work would achieve significant results in the not-so-distant future. I got the impression that the seeds of new technology have already begun to sprout from Tohoku University, which is oriented toward practical science.
6. Long term support with NGOs/NPOs
RESTART JAPAN Fund: Providing support for recovery efforts over the medium and long term
With the aim of assisting children in affected areas over the medium and long term, Sony joined forces with Save the Children Japan* to establish the RESTART JAPAN Fund. Sony is harnessing the considerable assets of the Sony Group to focus on protection and care, education, and creative activities for children.
As a first step, profits from sales of "RESTART," a charity single performed by the Japanese band TUBE, were donated to the RESTART JAPAN Fund. Other fundraising activities included a special science program for children organized by Sony Science Foundation, a charity concert sponsored by Sony Music Foundation and a charity beach soccer match between teams from Japan and Brazil, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sony will continue to collaborate with Save the Children through the RESTART JAPAN Project to assist children in areas affected by the disaster.
Save the Children RESTART JAPAN
Collecting, cleaning and digitizing photographs and photo albums
As part of its effort to provide support in areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake, Sony developed a special macrophotography-based digitizing device to facilitate the digital preservation of tsunami-damaged photographs and photo albums. 30 Sony employee volunteers in the area worked with an l NGO* to collect and clean photographs and albums, which were then digitized and stored using the device.
Photos discovered in Otsuchi-cho, Iwate Prefecture, after the Great East Japan Earthquake were put on display* on June 4-5, and seven Sony Corporation employees helped out at the event as staff. Photos and photo albums found in Otsuchi-cho by Self Defense Force personnel, volunteers, and neighbors were cleaned, dried, and then put on display. The Sony employees helped in various ways including organizing photos and greeting and helping visitors. Many of the visitors found their own photos or those of friends and were able to take these cleaned valuable photos back home although they had been dirty.
In addition, participants moved the many photos that were still not yet ready for display to a new storage location and removed mud, mold, and dirt.
■Participating employee comment
I normally work on the development of digital cameras, but this experience reminded me of the special power of photographs and that photos deeply relate to people's lives. A large area was hit by this disaster, and there are still many photos that have not found their way back to their owners even outside Otsuchi-cho. At this event, I was moved by the happy faces of those who found their own photos or those of family members, and I would like to find something I can do as an individual and through my work.
Assisting efforts to provide opportunities for children to study and play through participation in Project Yui
Sony has endorsed Project Yui, a public-private sector consortium established to support medium- and long-term recovery efforts in disaster-hit areas, and is helping to provide opportunities for children to study and play-primarily in Ishinomaki, Miyagi-as well as to sort and distribute study materials. Approximately 28 employees volunteered to participate in activities with local children, including building PET bottle rockets and baking cookies in the assembly hall of a temporary housing village.