To boost the awareness of “neurodiversity” — which celebrates the many variations of people’s brains and ways of thinking — we launched the Nihonbashi Neurodiversity Project this month. The new project takes its name from the supporting companies and organizations in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo, where Takeda’s global headquarters is located.
To mark the project’s launch, we held a media event to explain the importance of neurodiversity — the word is formed by combining “neuro” (brain/nerve) and “diversity” — from the perspectives of industry, government and academia, which have joined forces in the project and are promoting the concept in many ways.
In his opening remarks to guests at the event, Takeda’s Milano Furuta, President, Japan Pharma Business Unit, emphasized the project’s significance, noting that “Takeda is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and we work every day to put these values into practice. As our mission is to supply innovative medicines, we aim to further enhance innovation and productivity by expanding the awareness of neurodiversity and creating a society where everyone can work with psychological safety.”
Professor Masahiko Inoue of the Department of Clinical Psychology in the Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Tottori University is an authority on developmental disorders, who has long supported people in this area, both clinically and psychologically. At the event, he spoke about developmental disorders and neurodiversity and explained why it’s important to create workplaces where people with developmental disorders can collaborate comfortably. “By creating a work environment where people with developmental disorders can utilize their strengths and not face any barriers, all people who encounter difficulties at their jobs can thrive,” he said.
Miho Kawamura, Director, Economic and Social Policy Office in the Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, explained: “Unlike the time during Japan’s high-growth period, when uniformity enabled higher efficiency, we are now in an era when incorporating diverse perspectives leads to economic growth, as big tech companies have demonstrated. The viewpoint of neurodiversity is an important one for Japan. Since last year the government has started projects to promote neurodiversity and is encouraging companies to promote it.”
Supporting companies explained why they joined the project. One said, “There is a shortfall of human resources in the IT industry, and we would like to boost employment by promoting work styles that allow individual personalities to realize their potential.” Another added, “As we discuss LGBTQ+ from the perspective of diversity, it is crucial to make other issues more transparent — such as differences with others that are not apparent. As a company, we want to begin learning about neurodiversity through this project.”
The project plans to expand activities by digitally distributing awareness brochures on its website, conducting fact-finding surveys and holding workshops. You can learn more about the project here (in Japanese).
Neurodiversity embodies the concept that “the differences in the brain, nerves and various characteristics derived from them at the individual level are regarded as a type of diversity and are mutually respected, and these differences should help better society.” In particular, neurodiversity views certain developmental disabilities—such as autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities—as “natural and normal variations in the human genome,” rather than as a lack of ability or superiority/inferiority. (*1)
*1 “Concerning the Promotion of Neurodiversity,” Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry home page, 2022-04-08.
https://www.meti.go.jp/policy/economy/jinzai/diversity/neurodiversity/neurodiversity.html (ref. 2022-10-07)