September 27, 2010,09:04 +0900(JST) Visiting Paris

Two weeks ago, I visited Paris for the first time in a long while (in May I breezed through Paris in transit). Unlike in Japan, where the weather was still scorching hot, the weather was quite refreshing in Paris in mid-September. This photo was taken when I visited the Paris office of Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (Europe) Ltd. (SEWS-E), a Group company.

SEWS-E was originally established in January 1990 as a joint venture between Sumitomo Electric and the British Lucas Rists Wiring Systems. At that time, I was stationed in London and represented Sumitomo Electric in the negotiations leading to the joint venture agreement.

In July 1999, the joint venture became a wholly owned Sumitomo Electric subsidiary and changed its name to the present one. Since I was its Director from its inception in 1990 until 2004, I feel a special attachment to this company, as if it were one of my "favorite sons" among the Group companies in Europe.

At present, SEWS-E operates in 14 countries, mainly in Europe but also in Morocco (famous for Casablanca) and Egypt, manufacturing and selling wiring harnesses and related products with over 10,000 employees in total.

Europe is currently going through a major transitional period following the economic and financial crisis. I believe that times like these offer great opportunities for the company to enhance its trustworthiness as a global supplier. It must attentively respond to a range of customer needs regarding new technologies, cost, etc. with a "customer first" attitude, drawing on Sumitomo Electric Group's broad R&D power and organizational strengths. This is how I encouraged the SEWS-E personnel so that they will continue doing their very best and achieve the Group's goal of 25% share in the global market in fiscal 2012.

I believe that my usual long-distance communication with Mr. Mike Lawson, SEWS-E president, and other executives is working fine, but I'm also aware of the importance of face-to-face communication. Seeing them in person and deepening our mutual understanding, I was happy to be able to renew our commitment to working hard together toward our shared goals.

SEWS-E website:

September 24, 2010,14:08 +0900(JST) Trip to China (Shanghai and Suzhou) (4) – visiting affiliates

With SDM-S and SZAW personnelAlthough some time has already passed since I went, I'd like to show you one of the photos I’ve recently received from Sumidenso Mediatech Suzhou Co., Ltd. (SDM-S), the last company I visited during my trip to Shanghai and Suzhou.

The group photo also shows personnel from Suzhou Sumiden Automotive Wire Co., Ltd. (SZAW), located on the same premises as SDM-S.

The two companies manufacture products related to wiring harnesses, Sumitomo Electric's main business segment. SDM-S, counted among the world's largest manufacturing companies of wiring harnesses for automobiles and copiers with 6,000 employees, while SZAW produces automotive wire for SDM-S and other wiring harness manufacturers.

When I arrived, the factory interior was in a perfectly orderly and clean condition, probably in anticipation of my visit. Unfortunately, it was a very hurried visit, but it enabled me to see firsthand how hard the personnel were working. Keep it up, as we do in Japan too!

September 21, 2010,15:43 +0900(JST) Trip to China (Shanghai and Suzhou) (3) – visiting affiliates

At SPT's front entranceIn my last week's entry, I uploaded some photos taken during my trip to Suzhou. Today I'd like to show you a photo I've just received, taken at Sumiden Precision Tools (Shanghai) Ltd. (SPT), which I visited before Suzhou.

We have two cutting tool manufacturing bases in China: SPT in Shanghai and Sumiden Carbide Manufacturing (Tianjin) Ltd. (SCT). The Shanghai site manufactures micro-drills for printed circuit boards and multi-drills for processing steel and cast metal, and the Tianjin site produces precision indexable inserts (IGETALLOY), both mainly for the local markets.

Micro-drills for printed circuit boardsPrecision replaceable inserts

For marketing those products, Sumitomo Electric Hardmetal (Shanghai) Corp., a subsidiary 100% financed by Sumitomo Electric, was established, and its branch offices in Guangzhou, Tianjin, Changchun and Dalian have been working to strengthen their system of support for local and Japanese-affiliated customers including locally operating automakers.

I hope that this company continues to do its best in its locally rooted sales activities to establish itself as a reliable presence in the rapidly growing cutting tool market in China.

September 16, 2010,08:42 +0900(JST) Trip to China (Shanghai and Suzhou) (2) – visiting affiliates

During my stay in China, I spent one and a half days, the morning of September 8 and the entire day of September 10, visiting five affiliates in Shanghai and Suzhou and receiving reports from two other affiliates on their operations. I regret not having had enough time to spend with the local executives, but I'd like to assure them: I carefully read all the documents during the flight back home and firmly grasped the points covered during the factory visits as well as the other issues.

These photos should give you an idea of the warm welcome I received from the local personnel of Sumitomo Electric Interconnect Products (Suzhou) Ltd. (SESZ; photo taken at the company's front entrance) and of Sumitomo Electric Fine Polymer (Suzhou) Ltd. (SFPZ), which I visited later.

Group photo at the front entrance of SESZAt SFPZ

The Sumitomo Electric-affiliated companies in China are on an equal footing with wholly Chinese-owned rivals on the local business scene, considering China's great future potential as a market for our products. For this reason, our Chinese affiliates are expected to make serious and indigenous efforts to win out in the competition and expand their market shares. Fortunately, the affiliates are in an advantageous position since Japan is still a little ahead of China in terms of technology and Sumitomo Electric has accumulated managerial know-how that has supported a global network of some 280 companies. Nevertheless, we can't be overconfident. Therefore, during my visits, I encouraged the Chinese affiliates to conduct their business by clarifying their quantitative goals and timeframes in order to accelerate localization including local procurement, expand their business scale, and increase profits.

The last photo shows me with the executives of Group companies and Japanese expats stationed in the Suzhou area. I hear that the hot weather still continues in China. I hope that all of you over there take good care of yourselves and continue working hard as we are in Japan!

September 13, 2010,13:42 +0900(JST) Trip to China (Shanghai and Suzhou) (1) – IWCC General Assembly

The 2010 General Assembly of the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) was held in Shanghai on September 8 and 9. So I went to China to attend the General Assembly and also visit some of Sumitomo Electric's affiliates in Shanghai and Suzhou.

In Shanghai, it was as hot as in Japan, with temperatures reaching 36 or 37°C every day. Still, it was the usual lively city, probably even livelier because of the ongoing Expo. I was quite surprised to witness something extraordinary there: clear blue skies over Shanghai, which is usually gloomy and cloudy—probably one of the famous Shanghai Expo "effects" led by the Chinese government. I was surprised to confirm that the power of the State can even influence meteorological phenomena.

At the IWCC General Assembly, various subjects were treated. The term of the organization's Chairman had expired, and the president of a Korean copper rolling company was chosen to be the successor. I found him to be the right man for the job: a cosmopolitan who studied in the United States and had an excellent command of English, among other qualities. Within the IWCC, Asian business groups from China, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan are becoming increasingly influential, reflecting the world economic situation, which seemed to me to hint at the need for some careful readjustments in future IWCC administration, including personnel affairs.

Against a Shanghai night viewWith IWCC members after the General Assembly

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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