In respect to environmental concerns, the Kobe Steel Group also strives to work in cooperation and harmony with society.
Beginning in fiscal 2013 we implemented a groupwide program known as the KOBELCO GREEN PROJECT. Activities include the KOBELCO Forest Fairy Tale Prize designed to raise children's environmental awareness, visits to children's centers to give lessons on caring for the environment, and forest development programs carried out by Group employees.
The Kobe Steel Group collects stories on forest themes from students in elementary schools and junior and senior high schools across Japan with the aim of raising a generation of children who will carry with them an appreciation for all the many blessings that forests offer us. Winning stories are transformed into picture books with illustrations by picture book authors Moe Nagata and Roko.
The fourth annual prize, held in fiscal 2016, garnered a total of 625 submissions. Haru no Yubinyasan ("The Springtime Postman"), written by Chiyoka Kokado (Elementary School Division), and Mori no Shanderia ("The Forest Chandelier"), written by Saki Kondo (Junior High and Senior High School Division) were selected as the grand prize winners.
The finished picture books were presented in a ceremony to Hyogo Prefecture, the Kobe City Board of Education, and the Hyogo Prefectural Library, after which around 2,000 sets were donated to elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, special needs schools, and public libraries in jurisdictions of supporting local governments.
The KOBELCO Forest Fairy Tale Prize focuses on the very large theme of forests. Through everyone’s writing and submission we are able to explore a wide range of thought on what forests mean to us, through the medium of story. It is a theme that remains ever important. With each year we hold the competition, I look forward to everyone’s knowledge of forests and understanding of the focus of the competition growing deeper, and to the creation of ever fresher, more vibrant stories.
Haru no Yubinyasan ("The Springtime Postman")
Chiyoka Kokado (Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, 6th grade)
"The pictures were even better than I imagined and I was really surprised. They made me very happy."
Mori no Shanderia
("The Forest Chandelier")
Saki Kondo (Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, 9th grade)
"I imagined what it would be like as a picture book, and then used that image as I was writing. The image in my head and the actual illustrations really matched. I was so surprised."
Reading to children
The donated picture books are utilized in a variety of settings. At Kobe City Motoyama Minami Elementary School parent volunteers read books to children during morning reading time, once per week for lower grades and once per month for upper grades. During the July 2016 reading time, the winning book of the second annual prize, "The Forest’s Birthday Wreath," was read to students.
I think that it’s amazing that a story written by a child could become such an amazing picture book. When I tell the students the book was written by someone their own age they’re very surprised and it seems much more accessible to them as they listen.
Tomomi Saji, parent volunteer
Group photo after finishing activities at KOBELCO
Since the autumn of 2011, the Kobe Steel Group has been utilizing employee volunteers to carry out forest development programs. Forest development is carried out at two locations within Hyogo Prefecture: the 4.7-ha KOBELCO Forest in Miki City and the 0.6-ha ECOWAY Forest in Kobe's Nada Ward. Also, since fiscal 2014 the Ibaraki Plant has been conducting conservation of around 1.6 ha of countryside forests and agricultural land in the Zenihara district of Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture.
So far, over 2,200 people have participated in these activities, which have included tree thinning and cutting of undergrowth. Sunlight has now started to reach into the forest, which is slowly becoming healthier as a result.
Environmental education outreach program
Kobe Steel is a member of the Kobe Children's Eco Challenge 21 Club, sponsored by the city of Kobe. The club operates environmental education outreach programs to get children interested in the environment so that environmentally friendly activities will continue.
Kobe Steel provides a program on the topics of steel and electricity for children to learn about the importance of the environment and electricity and the convenience of steel in our lives through science shows, quiz games, eco card games and other fun activities. In fiscal 2016 the program was carried out at three locations (Nagata Children's Center in Nagata Ward, Kita Ogi Children's Center in Higashinada Ward, and Arise Children’s Center in Nishi Ward), with 138 children participating.