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Message from External Director

Last Updated: 2023.02.24
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Advance to the Next Stage by Promoting Diversity and Supporting the Environment and Society

Kathy Matsui
External Director

Fast Retailing conducts its business on a very large and global scale. That is the reason society is keen to see the company set targets for a broad range of sustainability issues and determine a clear road map for achieving those goals. Sustainability is core to the company's fundamental business and includes diverse themes and rules that evolve almost on a daily basis. It is therefore important to conduct in-depth and focused sustainability-related discussions at the management level and to gather opinions from various perspectives to find solutions. As an external director, I participate actively in sustainability-related debates during board meetings. I also serve in various committees, such as the Human Rights Committee and the Sustainability Committee, where I express my opinions from an objective standpoint.

Responding to the Younger Generation's Growing Interest in Sustainability
The global business environment has changed dramatically over the past few decades and we have also witnessed considerable shifts in the way governments, investors, and consumers behave. Companies are facing increasing pressure to tackle climate change and other sustainability-related challenges. One thing I can say about the environment in which Fast Retailing operates is that people are extremely interested in the impact that the apparel industry has on the global environment, and that interest will only increase going forward. Today's younger generation is much more conscious about the environment. Therefore, if companies cannot keep up with this rapidly changing level of awareness, they face the risk of falling behind. Conversely, adopting a proactive stance to tackling these issues can create business opportunities and greater value. UNIQLO's LifeWear concept is the epitome of sustainability, and the company is already pursuing many interesting initiatives including producing clothes using recycled materials and recycling apparel.

Sustainability issues cannot be solved by a single company on its own. Fast Retailing should endeavor to set standards for the apparel industry. The company should aim to strengthen cooperation with other companies and play an active role in setting industry standards while championing its own unique LifeWear and FR WAY corporate philosophies. I would like to see the company pursue its own unique approach as well as encourage collaborative efforts, and use sustainable materials procurement and supply chain management to build a broad conviction in people's minds that buying Fast Retailing products is a great way to contribute to the global environment and society.

Engaging Global Employees is the Key to Success
The actions that individual employees take are key to achieving the company's ambitious goals. Ideally, all employees should keep sustainability considerations at the forefront as they go about their daily work rather than leaving that responsibility up to sustainability-related departments or committees. There is a need to establish a mechanism that links individual achievements and incentives, and it is also extremely critical to align our global and regional goals. At the same time, given the fact that Fast Retailing conducts business in different regions, it is important to address the issues that people in each region are particularly concerned about. It is a good idea to start by building initiatives that encourage employees to contribute to their local communities. That will help employees realize that Fast Retailing can make a difference in society and spark a stronger awareness and eagerness to get involved in broader global issues.

Promoting diversity and inclusion is vital for encouraging employee engagement and essential for managing a business through challenging environments. Proactively addressing diversity and inclusion issues helps attract and retain quality talent for the long term and is directly linked to corporate growth. Creating a global business requires the input of various people with different approaches, experience, and knowledge because that is what sparks innovation. I would like to see Fast Retailing develop into a dynamic, leading company by clearly identifying what constitutes the strongest type of corporate team and implementing specific steps required to progress to the next level as a global firm.

Fast Retailing's sustainability activities have progressed significantly compared to 10 or 20 years ago. At the same time, however, global awareness and expectations about sustainability have also risen. Today, we live in an era where all stakeholders want to know what specific initiatives are being pursued by global companies, how the results of those activities are being monitored, and whether responsibilities are being fulfilled in an accountable way. My hope is that Fast Retailing becomes a true global leader in this arena by responding proactively to these questions. I believe that Fast Retailing has the capacity and plenty of opportunities to do so, and I remain committed to helping promote the company's sustainability activities as an external director.

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