January 5, 2009,15:43 +0900(JST) Welcoming the New Year 2009

Happy New Year to you all!

I hope you all had pleasant New Year's holidays. As for me, I was able to have an unusually long break this year, all of nine days away from work.

Holidays are often the same: they come and go very quickly. Toward the end of your holidays, you start feeling somewhat down. This year, however, I felt differently. In fact, I didn't have the mental leeway to feel down, in view of the current pessimistic socioeconomic situation we’re in. I was feeling eager to get back to work as soon as possible, to do what must be done to keep the company's performance from going bad, and so not cause trouble to our many stakeholders. The ongoing worldwide recession is unlike any recession that we active managers have ever experienced. This one is definitely having the largest, fastest-expanding impact, with no way out in sight.

Chronologically, in recent years we have experienced some major economic downturns, including the one caused by the first oil crisis from 1973 to 1975, the recession triggered in Japan by the bursting of the property speculation-related economic bubble in the early 1990s, and the much smaller recession caused by the IT bubble around 2002.

What clearly sets the current recession apart from the previous ones is the shared understanding on the part of governments around the world regarding the gravity of the situation, which understanding has resulted in concerted efforts to avoid the worst possible scenario: protectionism.

Given the way the things are at the moment, I expect that the impact of this financial crisis-triggered recession on the real economy will continue throughout 2009, and that it will take at least a year for the financial markets to regain general confidence, backed by a somewhat normalized US property market. Then it will take yet another year until general consumers, the main players in the real economy, start spending money. That means that we have to work with perseverance until the end of 2010 at the earliest, doing what must be done, putting our house in order and orienting our business correctly, so that once the period of recovery arrives, we can jumpstart with a vengeance.

In Chinese astrology as interpreted by Masahiro YASUOKA (1898 – 1983) based on WANG Yangming's neo-Confucianist teachings, 2009 is the Year of the Earth Ox (tsuchinoto-ushi), the year for clearing confusion through honest, hard work. As for us in the Sumitomo Electric Group, I'd like to see us tackle some tough challenges by engaging in new restructuring programs starting from January, to solidify our corporate constitution, always keeping in mind Sumitomo's 400-year-old business spirit (banji-nissei: do your sincere best-- not just in business, but in every aspect of your life; shinyo-kakuzitsu: place importance on integrity and sound management, and fusu-furi: do not act rashly or carelessly in pursuit of easy gains). Specifically, we shall aim at keeping our organization appropriate to our abilities, reconstructing our cost system, thoroughly working on managerial issues to which the Group has not yet been able to find optimal solutions, and conducting reinforced human resource training.

In closing, allow me to renew my sincere New Year's best wishes to you all.

Comment (1)


A very Happy & Prosperous 2009 to you and other readers !!

It seems whenever the US sneezes, the world catches a cold.

The US economy has suffered 10 recessions since the end of World War 2 and all of them have affected the world economy badly. This time again, weakening of the American economy is affecting rest of the world.

(Being over-dependent on US) Japan's economy shrank at an annual pace of more than 10 percent last quarter amid an unprecedented collapse in exports and production.

Biggies like Toyota, Nissan, Panasonic, all of which have declared losses for the current fiscal year have fired thousands of workers, heightening the risk of a slump in household spending. The jobless rate surged to 4.4 percent in December from 3.9 percent, the biggest jump in four decades.

I think, government has an important role to play in fighting the recession. For instance, Indian government has reduced taxes, hiked spending to create more jobs and boost the manufacturing and services sectors.

India's exports to the US have also grown substantially over the years and the economy is likely to lose 1 to 2 percentage points in GDP growth in the next fiscal year. However, the experts say that the long-term prospects for India are stable. A weak dollar is bringing more foreign money to Indian markets. Inflation has also come down because of cheaper oil.

Let's hope the world soon recovers from this cold...

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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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