December 28, 2007,10:03 +0900(JST) A Happy New Year to You All

I started writing this blog in July. It has managed to survive till the end of the year. I am grateful that there seem to be quite a number of people who look forward to reading it.

According to the admin office, the hits on Sumitomo Electric’s website increased by roughly 200,000 a month during this period. Among the different reasons that may account for this increase, the blog is a powerful factor, so they say.

This is in-house talk and I have no means of verifying it. However, I have been surprised by various people saying to me, “Oh, I read your blog.” As the Information Age really takes hold, although the blog is intended mainly for our Group members, I am happy to think that it has managed to play a role in communication with those outside the company as well.

I am going on holiday from tomorrow and I start back on January 4 in the New Year. The blog will take a break during this time. Meanwhile, I hope to spend my time meaningfully over the holiday pondering about Sumitomo Electric’s Group policies and strategies and carefully prepare requests I want to make to my executives. I wish you all a very good holiday and a prosperous new year.

December 25, 2007,13:11 +0900(JST) Calendar

MidosujiThe end of the year is fast approaching and I am sure you are all busy getting ready for the arrival of the New Year. At work, you must be taking stock of all your jobs and at home, if you’re Japanese, you must be giving your house a good clean, ready to welcome in the New Year, clean and refreshed.
Something that’s not a typically Japanese custom but a major task carried out anywhere in the world at the end of the year probably is the replacing of calendars. We are presented with a wide array of calendars at this time of year from many sources, due to the fact that we engage in a diverse portfolio of businesses with a global reach.
Hanging in the President’s Office is a calendar given to us by another company. I look at it from time to time and find that it creates a very soft and gentle atmosphere.

For many years, Sumitomo Electric has been producing calendars to distribute to customers. Our style is fairly set now in the form of an environmentally friendly eco-calendar that is in bifold format so that it is easy to use for all purposes.
Each year, we choose a Japanese painter or artist of high artistic merit. The illustrator Satoshi Fujimoto is this year’s artist. He has adopted washi (traditional Japanese paper) as a medium for his artwork. Twelve of his washi art has been selected, each suitably accompanying a particular month.

Washi lets light penetrate through it. Mr. Fujimoto uses washi paper to draw Japanese landscape. The result is a translucent effect that makes you truly aware of the presence of light. I hope you like the pictures.
Though I blow my own trumpet here, I am told that our calendars are quite highly regarded. Many people eagerly await their arrival. I am really thankful that they are so well appreciated.
The 2008 calendar employs a new technology original to Sumitomo Electric Group. Silver is turned into extremely minute particles called “nano-silver”, and this has been used to coat the calendar itself. The coating prevents the multiplication of microbes such as bacteria and viruses to a remarkable extent and with long-lasting effect.
This calendar using the antibacterial action of silver is probably the first in the world. I am delighted that we can deliver such innovative products to you. It is my sincere wish that our customers who use our products will be similarly delighted.

December 20, 2007,08:59 +0900(JST) Our Commitment to Compliance (2)

In Our Commitment to Compliance (1), I talked at length about other companies. Now, let us reflect upon ourselves. How is the Group doing in terms of compliance?
As I said at the beginning of my previous blog entry on this subject, I have been using various opportunities to relay the message that the Sumitomo Electric Group is a corporate entity that embodies the Sumitomo Business Spirit. In this respect, we must maintain a high standard of corporate ethics.
The Group’s executives, who have listened to my message time and time again, would naturally be telling their respective members to stick firmly to compliance and would be requesting them through diverse means to implement compliance.

Unfortunately, even during the three years while I’ve been President, issues of non-compliance in its broader sense have come to light in both in-house and external aspects. It has to be said, however, that there is almost nothing fundamentally malicious. Many of the problems arise from acts that had been acceptable in the past or result from these things that had been thus permissible.
Still, in this day and age, when we are not surprised to see corporate action that had been condoned before, and in some sense praised, suddenly become impermissible by society, for someone to manage a company as its executive, I believe we must most definitely remember that we always need to be thorough in our commitment to compliance.
I tell my Group executives that despite what the executives desire, there is always the risk in the workplace of employees thinking that some things would be permissible in the light of past practice and of their producing a non-compliance issue because of such inaccurate perception of the changes that have prevailed. Moreover, those at the top of organizations must be held accountable for non-compliance issues even if their own judgements did not come into play. I have told my Group executives to bear these two points clearly in mind.
As is often said, it is not enough to think of compliance as the observation of laws and regulations. It is important to govern ourselves appropriately from a much broader perspective.
Indeed, the Sumitomo Business Spirit has incorporated this proper spirit of compliance for the past 400 years. I I believe we should act and decide in accordance with the Sumitomo Business Spirit.
So, I renewed my call to all executives and all employees, yet again to check on any occurrence of non-compliance, to thoroughly eradicate illegal activities in each Group company, and to uphold a high standard of corporate ethics.

December 17, 2007,10:17 +0900(JST) Midosuji in Rain

 As December nears its end, we have to tidy up and get ready for a lot of things. The cityscape of Osaka is finally in its winter-readiness mode.
 We’ve had a run of fairly warm days for December. Perhaps due to the La Niña effect, western Japan is witnessing record low rainfall. Global warming may be making its clear mark on environmental change, but on a more superficial plane, a colder winter seems to signal better economic outcome, so I hope to see the arrival of cold weather as we enter into the coldest part of the Japanese winter.

 I may get to comment on the issue of global warming at a later date; today, I wish to tell you about the present scenery around Yodoyabashi, one of my previous blog entries.

Midosuji Leaves have fallen from the gingko trees of the grand Midosuji Boulevard, which runs through Yodoyabashi: some trees are completely bare now. There are about 800 gingko trees altogether along the boulevard. As I survey Midosuji and its trees and think back of the time when they were first conceived under the Midosuji Plan, I am filled with great admiration and awe for the remarkable future vision that the then Mayor Hajime Seki (grandfather of the previous mayor, Junichi Seki) had for Osaka. I can also feel the pride of the citizens of Osaka, who refused the trees to be requisitioned by the military during World War II.
 The road was only 6 meters wide before the Plan, which set about widening it to 44 meters. What an ambitious and demanding plan it was! What is more, below ground, the Subway Midosuji Line (between Umeda and Shinsaibashi) opened, the second subway line to start operation in Japan after the Ginza Line in Tokyo. The successful development of Osaka thereafter was only made possible thanks to the Midosuji Plan.
 I want to express my admiration for all those involved in the Plan at the time, who must have upheld their vision and tirelessly negotiated with other parties to bring the plan to fruition.

 The election for the Mayor of Osaka City is now finished. We are heading for the election for the Governor of Osaka Prefecture early next year. I look forward to both the incumbent Mayor Hiramatsu and the new Governor-to-be to draw up a robust and grand vision that would serve as the foundation for the development of Osaka.

 When this photo was taken, misty rain was falling, just as in the song Ame No Midosuji (Midosuji in Rain). This 1971 hit song sung by a Taiwanese singer Fei Fei Ou-Yang described the scene as “The boulevard’s gingko trees are shedding dead leaves and the paved sidewalk shines sadly in the rain.”

December 13, 2007,15:19 +0900(JST) Winter Bonus Payment

 In Japan, winter bonuses are paid out at this time of year. Many companies must have paid bonuses to their employees already. It is not easy being an employee but I am sure when the bonuses are given out, many people are all smiles, checking their payslips.

 In the old days, bonuses were paid out in cash. You had to check the content of your bonus packet and then make doubly sure that you didn’t drop it and you took it home carefully, looking about you all the while.
 On the day of the bonus payment, the company president would deliver a message and your boss would say to you, “Go straight home. Don’t drop your bonus packet.” Despite warning though, you would go into the nightlife district with friends and end up “donating a considerable sum” to certain establishments. Such misdeeds are fond memories now.

 This giving out of winter bonuses must be a distinctive Japanese practice. It originated from employers paying you extra so that you could buy special New Year’s mochi (rice cakes) and supplement your income for the New Year festivities. Whatever its history, you can’t help getting excited when you hear the word “bonus.” For many, this must come as an opportunity for spending, setting aside discretion and buying that thing you had wanted.
 According to surveys carried out by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun (a Japanese financial newspaper) and Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), this year’s winter bonus showed on average an increase of just under 1% over last year. We are slightly worried about the rise in the Consumer Price Index, and we are not sure if the bonus payout would lead strongly to boosting the economy. Still, I would definitely urge you to spend it wisely.

 In my message to employees on bonus payslip, I wrote, “In this starting year, we made a steady step forward towards the achievement of VISION 2012. This is the very fruit of the ceaseless endeavour made by all of you. As President, I want to thank you for the great effort you put into your work, your family included. I’d like to ask you to help us further with your cooperation and hard work and I wish you a happy and healthy New Year.” This is what I truly feel as President and I must admit, I am breathing a sigh of relief, thanks to our relatively good business figures.
 Looking forward to 2008, uncertainties are rife. Standing at the helm may not be an easy task. It is my resolve therefore to step up action aimed at our target achievement, with the Group concerted in effort and relentlessly driving forward towards reaching VISION 2012.

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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