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Mottainai and Hitachi’s Sustainability Plan

Hu Yoshida Hu Yoshida
CTO Emeritus, Hitachi Vantara

November 21, 2022

Even though I work for Hitachi Vantara, a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan-based Hitachi Ltd., and I grew up in a Japanese American family, I never learned to speak Japanese.

There were, however, certain Japanese words which were ingrained in me by my parents. One was mottainai, which they’d use when I wasted good food on my dinner plate or when I spent time messing around instead of studying or working. As you may gather from these examples, mottainai means the wasting of resources or opportunities, and to use them with gratitude.

Wangari Maathai, the famous Kenyan environmentalist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, made the term the centerpiece of her Green Belt Movement in 1977, an organization formed to promote “better environmental management, community empowerment, and livelihood improvement.”

The term is often used to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle. But Japanese environmentalists tend to add another “r,” respect.

It’s easy to spot the spirit of mottainai throughout the Hitachi culture, as well as our Hitachi 2022 Sustainability Report, which I have outlined in my recent posts.

For example, to support new subscription and pay-per-use business models, the report states that, “…at the stages of procurement, development, and design Hitachi will advance eco-designs. This includes ease of disassembly, adoption of mono-materials, durability, repairability, and resource saving as well as greater use of recycled materials and environmentally friendly materials. Having already been applying Environmentally Conscious Design Assessments and Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) for newly developed products, Hitachi has now set clear goals of achieving 100% implementation and are working to promote it”

The report also highlights the corporation’s move to contribute to a circular economy. “To help build a recycling-oriented society, Hitachi will advance a shift from the conventional linear economy to a circular economy. Hitachi is striving to realize this goal with a dual approach of pursuing effective and sustainable use of resources and assets in Hitachi’s business activities and achieving the circularity of resources throughout the value chain. Beyond the issues of the long-term use of products, and the reuse, repair, refurbishment, repurposing, and remanufacturing of products that are no longer needed in the course of our business activities.”

It goes on to say, that, “…we feel it will be imperative to advance the efforts together with a diverse range of stakeholders on a medium- to long- term basis. For example, if we introduce products as a service, we will not dispose of old products ourselves, rather, we aim to reliably attain circularity by sharing goals and engaging in co-creation with a diverse range of stakeholders in the value chain in order to realize the effective and sustainable use of resources and assets.”


Our mission to reduce, reuse, and recycle to contribute to society is clear. In addition, however, is our belief in upholding and protecting human rights. It is indispensable for the development and sustainability of the company. In accordance with the Hitachi Group Human Rights Policy, we promote human rights due diligence and other efforts to embed human rights risk management into our operation and to see that people’s rights and dignity are respected throughout the value chain.

As the world focuses on COP27 this week, we all look forward to greater, more intense collaboration and co-creation with customers, partners, and the global community. With mottainai at the core, we can solve our sustainability challenges together.


Hu Yoshida

Hu Yoshida

Hu Yoshida spent 24 years at Hitachi Vantara helping define technical direction and enabling customers to address their digital transformation needs. He is widely known in the industry and was instrumental in evangelizing Hitachi's unique approach to storage virtualization.