How natural energy company is creating a cozy future in Japan

Power companies are generally controlled organizations. There is a Japanese natural energy company that topples the tradition.

Natural energy space
A diversified workforce at Shizen Energy

The original article MAKING A COZY FUTURE is a part of the WORK MILL with Forbes JAPAN Issue 3 — THE AGE OF POST-INNOVATIONALISM ©WORK MILL, published on October 2, 2018

Many people are surprised as they enter Shizen Energy’s office in Hongo, Tokyo. In addition to the twenty-plus nationalities, the age group is similarly diverse. From interns in their twenties to veterans in their seventies, here work professionals with specific skills for the job. 1,000 people applied for the job when they recruited interns at Brazil, a sure sign that it’s an appealing workplace for overseas intellectuals. Ken Isono became interested in environmental issues as a student, and it was in 2006 that he discovered business opportunities in natural energy. He was trained to pursue profit at his first job at Recruit. “It’s only natural for a company to be like that, but it just didn’t fit with me,” says Isono. And so he quit. He moved to Yakushima, and after spending his days just “chilling out,” he joined a wind power startup. That’s where he witnessed the nuclear power problem after the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. “I knew for sure then that natural energy had a promising future.” Later that year, Isono founded Shizen Energy along with colleagues Kenji Kawado and Masaya Hasegawa. Shizen Energy develops, designs, procures, constructs, operates, and manages natural energy power plants along with growing, selling, and marketing products. Unlike traditional centralized energy giants, they’re a flat, compact, and nimble organization. Another unique point is how they restore the profits back to the community. Their aim is to approach not only global issues but also local ones. The aging population, low birthrates, depopulation, the decline of local industries… Such are the problems most prefectures are facing. Shizen Energy’s agricultural subdivision founded the HALO JAPAN FOOD brand and began selling beer flavored with agar-agar grown in Kumamoto. It was developed together with Kumamoto’s Diamond Brewing. “There will always be some people in every region who oppose building a power plant. We don’t want to suppress the opposition, but to increase the number of supporters. That’s why giving back to the community is important. We support companies who take social impact seriously, even if it doesn’t concern energy,” Kawado explains.

Shizen Energy

Founded in June 2011 by Ken Isono, Kenji Kawabe, and Masaya Hasegawa. Under their motto “Make a cozy future,” they manage a natural energy power plant business, business development, and a power retail business.

A model for a wind turbine generator

Creating a cozy future

“Our objective isn’t to make power plants,” says Kawado. Their ultimate goal is to change the world through energy. To tackle not only environmental problems but also the various social issues beyond energy is their mission. The main interests of the three representative directors all vary from environment, agriculture, depopulation, to the aging population; all problems which Japan must confront very soon. Diversity wasn’t something they specifically aimed for. As they searched for the human resources necessary in making a power plant, a diversified workforce was born. “Our ages, nationalities, and employment statuses are all different, but there are no walls between us.” So speaks Yoshihiro Sasaki, a former investment banker, now a member of the electricity business. One thing they have in common is a hope for creating a cozy future. The futures envisioned by all involved are linked to Shizen Energy’s business.

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