One of the oddest elements of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms is a provision requiring disclosure of a company's exposure to conflict minerals. The SEC will be policing this policy. Are there any similar sorts of disclosure requirements in Japan? Do you think that Japan should be using its corporate governance and disclosure rules to try and pursue an agenda relating to international human rights?
The SEC describes its rules as follows:
Specifically, companies will be required to disclose annually whether they use “conflict minerals” that are “necessary to the functionality or production” of a product that they either manufacture or contract to be manufactured that originate from the Democratic Republic of the Congo or adjoining countries. The conflict minerals are cassiterite, columbite-tantalite, gold, wolframite or their derivatives. These minerals are essential to many products — from jewelry to cell phones to jet engines.
“In adopting this statute, Congress expressed its hope that the reporting requirements of the securities laws will help to curb the violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo,” said SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro. “Because expertise about these events does not reside within the SEC, we have drafted these proposed rules carefully to follow the direction of Congress and look forward to the additional insights and perspective from public comments.”
Japanese companies which are listed in the United States will be subject to this rule. There is also a small but growing movement at schools and elsewhere to buy electronics goods from conflict-free makers.