July 15, 2016,14:00 +0900(JST) The 100th Japan National Championships

Last week, I went to watch the Japan National Championships, held in Nagoya.
On reaching the major milestone of its 100th anniversary, the event included the presentation of flower bouquets to winners by Japanese record holders and other legends from the Japanese athletics world, and the establishment of a centennial historical exhibition section. Partly because this year's meet doubled as a qualitative competition for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, I felt that the championships were much more exciting than usual.

On the second day of the event, the day before I went, the championships were unfortunately held in the rain. But on the third day, the weather became fine and I watched the games with the temperature climbing up sharply.

Some members of our athletics club also competed in the championships, prompting supporters from our company to root for the athletes even more enthusiastically. With this as the background, Tomoya Tamura was selected to represent Japan in the 4 × 400 m relay. Although we need to wait until mid-July to find out whether or not the Japanese relay team can compete in the Olympic Games, I sincerely hope to watch him sprinting at the global event.

Now, only a half month remains before the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games are held. I look forward to watching athletes representing Japan doing their very best not only in the athletic events but also in other sporting events at the games.

  • Men's 400 m hurdle on the second day of the meet
    Men's 400 m hurdle on the second day of the meet (fourth from right: Yuta Konishi of our athletics club)
  • Stands nearly filled with spectators
    Stands nearly filled with spectators

July 15, 2016,11:15 +0900(JST) On the Day of Our Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders, in the UK...

A general meeting of shareholders is a valuable opportunity for us to communicate with shareholders directly. This year, despite the hot weather, more than 800 shareholders attended the meeting. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation.

At the general meeting, we delivered reports on our business performance, audit results, and other topics. Afterwards, as usual, we received several questions.

The meeting happened to be held in the middle of the voting for the national referendum of the UK to decide whether the nation should leave the EU or not. Accordingly, some of the questions from our shareholders were related to expected influence on Sumitomo Electric if the country should decide to withdraw from the EU.

Partly because I used to work in London, I carefully watched the country's historic "choice of destiny." As you may know, the result of the vote counting that garnered worldwide attention is to "Leave." It is hard to say yet what types of influence this decision by UK voters will have on global politics and economies. It is expected that Japanese companies will also be affected more than a little in such areas as future foreign exchange, stock prices, and customs.

The European Constitution will continue to be effective for two years even after the UK applies to leave the EU and concludes the necessary agreement with the EU. During this period, at Sumitomo Electric, we would like to identify future trends carefully, and make an appropriate response to each concern.

June 30, 2016,11:50 +0900(JST) Facility Tour to Hokkaido Together with Business Partners

Inviting business partners and other associates who provide cooperation supporting our technologies and products mainly related to copper, aluminum and optical core wire, we hold an annual tour to one of our related facilities, together with an information exchange meeting and an interaction session.

This year, on June 10, we hosted representatives invited from 21 companies, on a tour to our demonstration facility located in the Minami-Hayakita substation of Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc. (HEPCO), where we had introduced our redox flow battery system. Since the completion of its installation last December, this large-scale storage battery system has been undergoing a three-year demonstration experiment.

On the day of the tour, an outline of the facility was provided at a newly established presentation room for facility visitors, before they were shown around the entire facility. Some participants commented that the tour proved that our technology would help extend the use of renewable energy, and others said that they had realized how large scale the demonstration experiment was. In my opinion, the tour served as a valuable opportunity to help participants understand the significance of this demonstration project.

At a general session, we presented trends in the electric wire industry and our current situation, and also exchanged opinions with participants in a frank atmosphere. As usual, the event was truly significant.

  • In the presentation room of Minami-Hayakita substation
    In the presentation room of Minami-Hayakita substation
  • Addressing the general session
    Addressing the general session

June 17, 2016,14:00 +0900(JST) Endless Efforts

I attended the President's Awards ceremony for Improvement Proposals.

Designed to encourage employees to improve their daily operations by demonstrating originality and ingenuity as teams or individuals, the awards are given after a screening process to those who have implemented activities that have contributed to invigorating their workplaces.

In FY 2015, of approximately 50,000 submitted proposals, six themes that had survived the screening in each workplace and region were selected for the President's Awards.

Although recipients looked nervous at the award ceremony, they seemed relaxed at the subsequent party, where I was able to listen to each of them talk about some clues to the improvements they had made, as well as ingenuity they had demonstrated and troubles they had encountered.

What is the key in improvement activities is to work on operations always with awareness of problems, such as "Are there any ways to spend less time and effort and to enhance efficiency?" and "Are there any ways to reduce defects?" It is also important to have the capabilities and strong determination to carry through until the problem is solved.

I hope that the recipients will continue being leaders in their workplaces, foster those who will follow their lead, and demonstrate their capabilities in invigorating their workplaces.

  • At the award ceremony
    At the award ceremony
  • Commemorative photo taken after the party
    Commemorative photo taken after the party

May 24, 2016,09:00 +0900(JST) Attended the IWCC General Assembly and Joint Meeting in Cape Town

From May 8 to 11, I attended the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) General Assembly and Joint Meeting, which was held in Cape Town, South Africa. Held annually, the event draws representatives from a variety of parties connected to the copper industry, such as from mining companies, refining companies, fabricating companies, trading firms, exchanges, and government agencies. In the event, participants exchange opinions on a wide range of topics such as technological progress, situations in the industry, and global economic trends.

At this year's event, partly because the host country was South Africa, many presentations were given regarding the African economic and political situations, with an emphasis on the region's mining activities. This made me reflect deeply on my lack of daily efforts to keep up with the African political, economic, and social situations.

The event attracted more than 200 participants from around the world, including about 30 from Japan. They paid much attention to changes in the price trends of commodities in general, especially copper price trends.

Rapid price changes have a considerable impact on fabricating companies. There is no option but to accept structural changes in the entire industry, such as changes of the management policy of the London Metal Exchange (LME) and the speculative entry of different industries into the market. However, each related sector needs to make some kind of contribution and do its best to ensure sound development of the copper industry.
In particular, it is necessary to recognize with a sense of crisis that customers, who are the end users, are keenly aware of the instability of the copper market, and are seriously considering substitutes. As indicated by the LME warehousing problem, some people care only about themselves, but I have always asserted that this attitude is never acceptable in terms of sound development of the copper industry. Still, since the interests of each party concerned are interrelated in a complicated manner, it is difficult to solve the problem.

At Table Mountain and Signal Hill, commanding a panoramic view of Cape Town
At Table Mountain and Signal Hill, commanding a panoramic view of Cape Town

SUMITOMO ELECTRIC President CEO Masayoshi Matsumoto

Born in 1944 in Hyogo Prefecture, Masayoshi Matsumoto joined Sumitomo Electric in 1967. After serving as General Manager of Chubu District Office, Managing Director and Senior Managing Director, he assumed office of President and CEO in June 2004.

His leisure activities include jogging, reading and art appreciation. Also a seasoned athlete, he played baseball in junior high school and practiced judo in senior high school. In university, he threw the javelin competitively and participated in all-Japan inter-university competitions.

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