June 29, 2009,08:57 +0900(JST) Shareholders’ General Meeting
On June 25, the company’s Ordinary Shareholders General Meeting was held in the Ritz-Carlton Osaka (same venue as last year) with over 400 shareholders participating.
Shareholders meetings provide the opportunity to personally meet the company’s shareholders, report to them on the company’s business performance during the previous year and explain challenges currently facing us, while communicating to them my ideas as the president and hearing them voice their requests and expectations regarding the company’s management. As on every past occasion, I attended the last shareholders meeting in all sincerity.
During the question-and-answer session we received eight questions, more than we did last year. They included the following: “in view of the organization’s scale, how will you reconcile the structural reforms to keep the company appropriate to its abilities with reinforcement of educational rearmament?”; “what are the company’s R&D themes in life science, as the next-generation strategic domain?”; “what products seem promising as regards the new product ratio goal of 30%?”; “what is the situation of employment of the disabled, and what are the future goals in this area?” We also received an opinion that showed understanding of the need for emergency measures amid the severe business environment, but that demanded care to avoid going to extremes with structural reforms, since they could prove problematic once presently stagnant demand starts picking up again. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our shareholders once more for their valued feedback and advice, which will be put to use in the company’s future management.
Toward the end of the meeting, we also received a request for our explanation regarding the company’s remaining in Osaka, while many companies are shifting their headquarters to Tokyo. I replied, not on behalf of the company, but from my personal point of view: “About 40% of the Sumitomo Electric Group’s sales are generated outside Japan, which means that we’re becoming increasingly globalized and, in a sense, the location of our head office no longer matters all that much. Since this is the way it is, I think we should stay in Osaka so that we can express our gratitude to our hometown, which has nurtured the Sumitomo Group as a full-fledged business entity.” Unexpectedly, my words were greeted with generous applause from the audience. I was deeply touched and encouraged anew by Osaka people’s strong expectations regarding Sumitomo Electric.
The meeting, which started at ten o’clock, quickly came to an end 90 minutes later. I’m quite satisfied with the constructive exchange of views that took place there, between the company and shareholders.
I believe that communication is one of the most important roles of business managers, who must be able to speak openly, in their own words, as to where the company is headed and what management policy has been adopted. Through such communication, mutual understanding can develop and deepen between company management and shareholders.
Kaishu Katsu (1823 - 1899), a Japanese statesman during the Edo to Meiji period, says in his memoirs, Hikawa Seiwa, that the state is more important than the government and that political affairs can be handled properly only with integrity and sincerity. The same is true of business management. It should not be pursued solely for profit, and you must make sure there is morality in what you do. Mere novelty does not last, and decisions must be made from a long-term viewpoint, not a short-term one. At the helm of the Sumitomo Electric Group, I always try to remain faithful to the original precepts of the Sumitomo’s Spirit, “banji-nissei (do your sincere best, not only in business but in every aspect of your life),” “shinyo-kakujitsu (place importance on integrity and sound management)” and “fusu-furi (do not act rashly or carelessly in pursuit of easy gains).” I tried to convey these ideas during the shareholders meeting, and I hope my message was clearly communicated to the shareholders.
With the last shareholders meeting as a new beginning, the entire management of Sumitomo Electric renewed our commitment to our managerial roles in all sincerity and integrity. Dear shareholders, your continued understanding and support will be greatly appreciated.