May 30, 2011,09:38 +0900(JST) In Warsaw

Between programs of the IWCC (International Wrought Copper Council) Joint Meeting and in the early morning hours, I made hurried tours of the Warsaw city area.

First, I took this photo near the Opera House, where the IWCC dinner was held.

With the Opera House in the backgroundInside the Opera House, on the staircase

I visited the historic Old Town of Warsaw, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage list, just before my flight back to Japan. Warsaw was built in the 13th century as a castle town protected by brick walls.

Although the Old Town was devastated in World War II, the citizens of Warsaw, with their indomitable spirit and patriotism, restored this district exactly to its original form, over many years. I was deeply impressed with the beautiful streets and buildings, which had been restored by using as many old bricks, tiles and stones as possible to faithfully reproduce the original townscape, including stains and cracks on the buildings.

As I strolled along the streets of Warsaw, my thoughts drifted to those who had been hit by the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: They must be going through great pains and hardships, but the beautiful town of Warsaw seems to say that we can restore Japan as well, if we work hard, all doing their very best.

Brick castle walls in the backgroundIn front of the marketplace in the Old Town

May 26, 2011,09:33 +0900(JST) Attending the IWCC General Assembly/Joint Meeting (Warsaw, May 8 and 9)

The 2011 General Assembly of the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) and the Joint Meeting among copper producers, smelters and processors took place in Warsaw, Poland on May 8 and 9. In the past, General Assemblies and Joint Meetings had been held separately, but this year the two conferences were held simultaneously to avoid wasteful costs.

On those beautiful May days in Warsaw, more than 200 delegates gathered to give presentations and take part in the active exchange of opinions. In the wake of globalization, a rapid paradigm shift is taking place in social, political and economic fields. Taking this fact into consideration, participants analyzed the issues faced by the copper industry, and discussed solutions and future developments.

In his opening remarks, the Chairman of the London Metal Exchange (LME) expressed his heartfelt sympathy for the sufferers of the Great Tohoku Earthquake. I also received warm words of encouragement from many of the IWCC members.

I have engaged in IWCC activities since 1985. During that period, the world has witnessed the collapse of the Cold War structure, a number of economic recessions, the rise of China and other emerging economies, recent changes in the global financial architecture, blurring industrial boundaries and other events, each of which has had an impact on the copper industry.

I understand that the issues raised, the countermeasures proposed and the debate inspired at the previous meetings heavily reflected the conditions of the times.

Meanwhile, the LME and other copper exchanges have essentially remained almost unchanged for over a century. Copper is a finite resource that has contributed to the prosperity of humankind for thousands of years. As in the past, we should not look to copper merely as a target of speculation. It is high time for us to give serious thought to the concrete measures and actions we should take, and how influential institutions should think and act so as to continue on the right path. This is what I thought to myself on this occasion, as I had after previous IWCC General Meetings.

May 23, 2011,09:31 +0900(JST) Tree-planting in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of our Moroccan operation (Morocco, May 6 <2>)

During my visit to Morocco, at Ain Sebaa Plant we planted a palm tree, which has a special status in Morocco, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sumitomo Electric’s business activities in that country.

Palm tree-planting at Ain Sebaa PlantCherry tree-planting at Kenitra Plant

His Majesty the King Mohammed VI is the 23rd monarch of the Alaoui dynasty. In the mid-13th century, the royal family moved to Sijilmasa in southern Morocco (in the suburbs of Rissani City in the Tafilalt region), an area where numerous deserts and palm trees are found. Because of this, palm trees began to take on a special significance and have since been cherished in Morocco.

In fact, a royal edict (Dahir) of the Kingdom of Morocco states that palm trees belong to the country and that they cannot be felled or uprooted anywhere in Morocco without permission from the competent authorities. Our Casablanca Plant had to obtain the authorities’ permission to move palm trees in its premises.

Meanwhile, in hopes for further deepening and development of the Moroccan-Japanese friendship, a cherry tree, representative of Japan, was planted on the premises of Kenitra Plant. I sincerely hope that this tree will be deeply rooted in the Moroccan soil and bear many beautiful blossoms.

May 20, 2011,08:33 +0900(JST) Sumitomo Electric’s activities in Morocco (Morocco, May 6)

As I wrote in my last entry, I was honored with a Wissam-Al-Alaoui as the representative of Sumitomo Electric, which has carried out a range of business activities. At present, our wiring harness (automotive component) business in Morocco comprises 7 factories, with 15,000 employees in total. We are among the largest exporters in all industrial categories in that country.

After the Industry Conference, I went to visit some of our Group’s most important industrial sites, namely Kenitra Plant in Kenitra City near the Moroccan capital of Rabat, and Ain Sebaa Plant in Ain Sebaa City near Casablanca.

With Ain Sebaa Plant personnel

The products manufactured in these plants are shipped to Japanese and European automakers. Although shipments to disaster-stricken Japanese automakers have seriously diminished, orders from European car manufacturers are keeping the plant busy enough.

Although I won’t go into details, I was happy to learn that our Moroccan personnel have high morale, as a whole. Nevertheless, I noticed that there was still room for improvement and ingenuity, in terms of each of the SEQCD (Safety, Environment, Quality, Cost and Delivery). For the future expansion of our Moroccan operation, I believe it is important to develop the Moroccan industrial sites as the exportation base not only for the European markets, but also for the North American markets, drawing on Morocco’s advantageous location.

During my visit, we also held a commemorative party to celebrate the 10th anniversary of our business activities in Morocco. It turned out to be a very lively event, attended by His Excellency Abdellatif Maazouz, Minister of Foreign Trade of Morocco; His Excellency Toshinori Yanagiya, Ambassador of Japan to Morocco, and many representatives of the local business community. Morocco-made red and white wines were served, which first surprised me for their very existence, and then pleased me with their qualities.

Talking with Mr. MaazouzShaking hands with Mr. Moamah

I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal deep gratitude to Mr. Ali Moamah, a leading figure of the Moroccan industrial community and our local partner, for his invaluable cooperation, without which our Moroccan operation could not have developed to what it is today. During the party Mr. Moamah, being a pious Muslim, did not touch alcoholic beverages and was not bothered at all while I casually had my glass refilled. His tranquility in front of another demonstrating a different culture was, I suppose, a positive result of globalization.

May 17, 2011,14:13 +0900(JST) Attending the Industry Conference sponsored by His Majesty King Mohammed VI (Morocco, May 5)

I attended the Moroccan Industry Conference in Casablanca, Morocco. Last year I was invited to the same conference, but my schedule simply did not allow me to attend. It was not only unfortunate, it was also quite embarrassing because during the Conference period His Majesty the King was to personally present me with a medal in recognition of Sumitomo Electric’s contribution to Morocco’s industrial promotion. I caused much inconvenience to people concerned, especially His Excellency Ahmed Reda Chami, Morocco’s Minister of Industry, Trade and New Technologies, who had taken great pains and for whom I felt extremely sorry.

During the flight I tormented myself by contemplating how I should address His Majesty the King if I were to have an audience with him, and with what words I should offer my apologies to him and Mr. Chami. Arriving in Casablanca, however, I suddenly felt a sense of ease, perhaps because of the superb weather. It was ideally fine, contrary to my anticipation of summer heat, although it was only early summer. It was as if the comfortable sea breezes blew away my worries. So I was able to decide that I should just be my natural self and offer as sincere an apology as possible. I then headed for the conference venue.

In this year’s ceremony, seven people from within Morocco and outside were awarded the medal. Officially, I was one of the previous year’s awardees. After the ceremony, Mr. Chami took the trouble of personally bringing my medal and presenting it to me with “Congratulations!”

With Mr. Chami on left 

I still felt somewhat awkward, but much to my relief, Mr. Chami was all smiles. After a brief conversation of ten minutes or so, he had to leave in a hurry. I was later told that Mr. Chami had actually kept my medal* carefully, from last year until that moment.

The ceremony was followed by a panel discussion, in which I participated as a panelist. The discussion covered a range of subjects, from reasons for direct investment in Morocco to future prospects. Despite some difficulty with exchanges in French - Morocco’s virtual second language - I think I was able to fulfill my role well.

During the press conference after the Industry Conference

I would like to report here that I received very warm words of sympathy and encouragement from Mr. Chami and others in Morocco, regarding the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. Their sincerity and compassion, as well as the honor of the decoration, are a great source of encouragement and energy for us in moving forward to the future, and will definitely deepen the friendly ties between Morocco and Japan.

* The medal is officially called Wissam-Al-Alaoui. Wissam means decoration or medal; Alaoui is the name of the dynasty presently on the throne; it means therefore the Medal of the Alaoui dynasty.

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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