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Preserving our Planet

In Focus
NAME:Takeshi Osumi
COMPANY:Osumi Corporation
LOCATION:Tokyo, Japan
Takeshi Osumi developed a profound love of nature during his childhood. Now, as Osumi Corporation’s President, he is sharing this passion with SMEs across Japan and Vietnam as he strives toward a more sustainable future for all.

Long summer days hiking through Japan’s countryside, swimming in its rivers and camping under the stars as a boy scout, are among Takeshi Osumi’s fondest memories. They are also some of his most formative, instilling in him a love of nature that has influenced his current path as President of environment research company Osumi Corporation.

“Those experiences of nature’s beauty and harshness helped me remember the importance of preserving our planet,” Osumi tells The CEO Magazine. “As an adult, it’s easy to prioritize convenience or profit, but reflecting on those experiences reminds me to focus on the planet’s wellbeing. This has reinforced my belief that I’m truly fortunate to work in the environmental sector.”

A Family Mission

It’s a passion that was shared by Osumi’s father, who founded the company in 1966 when pollution was growing across Japan. “Back in the 1960s, Japan was facing severe pollution problems,” he says. “Rivers were red and photochemical smog was a serious issue.”

In response to this new scourge, permission was granted to both public institutions and private entities to analyze these unwelcome components in the air and the water. With a background in chemical analysis, Osumi’s father saw the opportunity to make a difference. He grasped it with both hands and founded Osumi Corporation.

Osumi joined his father in the enterprise at the age of 30. “Back then, our focus was on chemical and environmental analysis under the key work of pollution,” he says. “But around the time I joined, the discourse began to shift from pollution to environmental issues, emphasizing the importance of the environment.”

“We’re in an era where we need to make changes.”

Having stepped up to the role of President when he was 37, he has led the company for the past 20 years.

Now, topics like climate change, biodiversity and waste issues are commonly discussed. “Before, the focus was on pollution’s impact on people, such as causing diseases. It was seen as a health hazard,” he says.

“The current environmental discussion, however, not only concerns humans but also highlights the global risk to the planet itself. We’re in an era where we need to make changes.”

With small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) making up around 99 percent of Japanese companies, encouraging them to take action is crucial to drive significant change, Osumi stresses.

Through its environmental consulting services, the company helps SME clients achieve Eco Action 21 certification, a program created by the Ministry of the Environment, and also offers services like Environmental Director, a trademarked role created for companies that may not have the resources to establish their own environmental department. It also conducts energy-saving diagnostics.

Shifting Focus

Within Osumi Corporation itself, the shift to a broader mindset has been accentuated by two key turning points, according to Osumi – the first taking place around three years after he took the company’s reins.

It was the time of the Lehman brothers collapse, when Japan hit a significant recession, he recalls.

“Our company, which had never been in the red, faced two consecutive terms of major losses,” he says. “Reflecting on that, rather than just focusing on increasing sales and profits, we questioned the very purpose of our work.”

The realization that emerged from this time of introspection was the importance of “mission-driven management”.

“We noticed that while Japan’s environment was improving, developing countries were facing worsening conditions. This realization led us to expand our efforts globally.”

“This was a significant event. Our mission, crafted then, was to provide safety and security from an environmental perspective to people living on Earth. This marked a big shift, moving from just analyzing air and water to doing work that truly benefits the Earth,” he says.

The second turning point came with the introduction of the word ‘Earth’ in its mission, which prompted another lightbulb moment.

“We noticed that while Japan’s environment was improving, developing countries were facing worsening conditions,” says Osumi. “This realization led us to expand our efforts globally.”

Now, the company has a subsidiary in Da Nang, Vietnam which recently celebrated its third anniversary.


It can be easy to get distracted from this bigger picture, as Osumi is well aware, which is why culture is crucial to keeping the team’s minds on the task at hand.

“While it’s true that people with a high environmental consciousness join our company, the day-to-day can sometimes become more about the immediate tasks at hand. For example, someone might get too focused on collecting water samples from a river, losing sight of the bigger picture. Or analysts who process hundreds of samples daily might start seeing their work as just dealing with the samples in front of them,” he says.

“We remind our employees of our mission to improve the Earth, ensuring they remember why we’re analyzing water or collecting samples in the first place.”

“We remind our employees of our mission to improve the Earth, ensuring they remember why we’re analyzing water or collecting samples in the first place.”

Initiatives to keep purpose present throughout the organization include a monthly email newsletter in which Osumi communicates his thoughts, as well as a yearbook, which he compares to an “American graduation album”, which is a valuable tool both internally and externally, showcasing the company’s achievements.

The company also publishes a magazine entitled Zero Clinic – a twice yearly publication which aims to elevate the success stories within the sector.

“Japan, despite being advanced in some environmental aspects, is quite behind on climate change issues. So, instead of dwelling on being behind, we showcase cutting-edge environmental improvements from around the globe,” he says.

It’s an ingenious way of encouraging its clients to better engage with environmental initiatives helping to keep the end goal within sight, says Osumi. “This isn’t about profit for us but about fulfilling our mission to help the Earth.”

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