This article examines the REDD+ engagement types preferred by Japanese private firms at the project level including their motivation and rationale for the engagement and explores the challenges and opportunities in relation to their participation. We analyzed 148 responses to a survey questionnaire mailed to participants across Japan and the responses from in-depth face-to-face interviews with representatives from 11 selected firms. 42 firms (28%) stated that they are interested in engaging in REDD+-related activities in the future. Of these, 33 firms aim to enhance their corporate values, while the other nine aim to increase profits. The most popular engagement types were providing support, as a form of corporate social responsibility (CSR), to third parties such as NGOs that are engaged in REDD+ projects (21 firms) and purchasing REDD+ carbon credits derived from REDD+ projects to offset the greenhouse gases emitted by the firm (or carbon-neutral CSR) (18 firms). The firms would be willing to participate in REDD+ in some form in the future if some of the current challenges are addressed. These challenges included: few opportunities for firms seeking attractive “stories” in forest conservation to pair with local partners that can help to realize the firms' “stories” or desires; difficulties in gaining understanding and trust from host countries' governments/communities; and the lack of a consortium to implement REDD+-related activities by bundling firms that find it difficult to work alone. It was also confirmed that some firms seeking profits from REDD+ carbon credit development and trading activities continue to face barriers commonly identified in earlier studies such as market uncertainty, unclear regulatory frameworks, and the costs of measuring, reporting, and verifying the carbon credits. However, the present study did not support the findings of earlier studies that the cost of CSR activities is considered to be relatively high because CSR budgeting is often based on time horizons of less than 5 years. We propose some policy initiatives designed to increase private sector participation in REDD+ that will contribute to achieving the host countries' mitigation targets in relation to both REDD+ and nationally determined contributions.
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