(Bloomberg) -- Japanese pension funds managing 90 trillion yen ($600 billion) will join a global initiative for responsible investment, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a speech on Tuesday.

Seven of the nation’s public retirement funds will start preparations to sign the Principles for Responsible Investment, Kishida said. 

The PRI was started by the United Nations in 2006 to encourage investment that takes environmental, social and governance factors into consideration. As the number of members has increased globally, Japanese firms have been slower to join — a situation that Kishida hopes to change.  

“The initiative enables asset managers and owners to engage in dialogues with companies and promote growth and sustainability outcomes,” he said, adding he expected more to join in future. Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest retirement fund with 219 trillion yen in assets, is already a member. 

The move comes as Kishida seeks to prod asset managers to improve their skills and oversight in a bid to nudge households to invest more of their savings. He also wants more foreign money managers to set up in Japan to boost competition. 

Read more: Kishida Makes Fresh Bid to Lure Asset Managers to Japan

Of the PRI’s more than 5,300 members, just 125 hail from Japan, fewer than the number from China.

--With assistance from Sheryl Tian Tong Lee.

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