Monday, June 11, 2007

Taisei Corporation, the Constructors of Hushan Dam

On hearing the news that Japan’s Taisei Corporation had been awarded the contract for the construction of the main structure of the Hushan Reservoir we were eager to find out a little more about the construction corporation that seems so willing to construct a reservoir that will flood a large area of an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA: TW17, Important Bird Areas in Asia: Key sites for conservation, BirdLife International, 2004) and that reservoir will be used to largely supply water to expand heavy-pollution-generating industry on Taiwan’s west coast, which apart from increasing Taiwan’s greenhouse gas emissions substantially, will in turn also threaten marine species like the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and important wetlands like the Dacheng wetland area (IBA: TW16, Important Bird Areas in Asia: Key sites for conservation, BirdLife International, 2004).

The Taisei Corporation name has been in the news in Taiwan before. Remember the Kaohsiung MRT scandal? Taisei’s name came up in that. Remembering the Kaohsiung MRT scandal we wondered what a simple Google search with “Taisei” and “scandal” would come up with. The answer, twenty-nine pages worth of hits. It would appear that Taisei Corporation is no stranger to scandals.

In January 1995, The New York Times reported that Taisei was prohibited from seeking new business for 18 days as a penalty for bribing public officials. A different story covered alleged Taisei bribes in the 1999 trial of Mitsuo Moriya, a senior official of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, convicted for his role as an intermediary in which he transferred a total of 30 million yen in bribes from former vice presidents of Taisei Corporation and Obayashi Corporation to then Sendai Mayor Toru Ishii in late 1992. Taisei’s name also came up again in a 2006 bid-rigging scandal involving US Defense contracts.

Taisei’s Environmental Policies state:
“Taisei’s corporate goal is to create a vibrant living environment for all members of society, and the company contributes to the well-being of society by designing and constructing buildings and infrastructure based on a management principle that values the interaction between people and the natural environment.

However, Taisei recognizes the fact that such activities involve altering the natural
environment, consume a large amount of energy and resources, generate waste, all of which have, to some extent, an adverse impact on the global environment.

Therefore, Taisei endeavors, in every business activity, to protect and create a better
environment by effectively using its environmental management system (EMS). To this end, the company has set forth the following principles in order to fulfill our social responsibility as a good corporate citizen.”

They go on to say “Taisei will take global environmental aspects into consideration, including the protection of biodiversity, at the planning and design stages and will provide clients with environmentally sound proposals to create facilities that have a symbiotic relationship with the natural environment and require less energy or resources in the long term.”

This all sounds very good but what happens when a project will cause such harm that Taisei won’t be able to “protect and create a better environment?” What does fulfilling social responsibility as a good corporate citizen require then?

Your Help is Needed-Send a Letter to Taisei Corporation.

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