July 27, 2011,08:43 +0900(JST) Smile Relay


While this blog has entered its fifth year, as I wrote in the previous entry, it now has a sister blog, "Sumitomo Electric Group Citizenship Activity: Smile Relay," which started in May 2011.


The new blog features entries posted by Sumitomo Electric Group companies or their individual employees around the world, who report on their local community or CSR activities from the standpoint of organizers of or participants in such activities.


Sumitomo Electric Group companies have for some time been carrying out various community and corporate citizen activities around the world. However, there have been few opportunities to introduce those activities to the general public; some have remained completely unknown, even within the Group. The "Smile Relay" blog is expected to change this.


At the moment, there are only a handful of posts on the blog, but Sumitomo Electric Group companies in the respective countries and regions will soon be actively taking turns, introducing their activities and relaying smiles. I hope you will start visiting and enjoying the new blog as much as this one.


Related link: Smile Relay http://global-sei.com/smile/

July 26, 2011,13:05 +0900(JST) This blog now enters its fifth year!


Time passes so quickly that this month, this blog is already entering its fifth year! When I first started the blog, I didn't quite expect it to last this long. However, as perseverance is said to be a strength, I have continued blogging by going at it one step at a time, posting over 300 entries in the last four years. The Secretariat informed me that the blog has received as many comments from readers during the same period.


As for the number of visitors to the blog, it has about 80,000 hits each month. I am happy to realize that my effort to reach out has been met with kind interest from so many readers. I would like to thank you all most sincerely for reading this blog.


On several occasions I have been made acutely aware of the power of the Internet, which can instantaneously transmit a single message to numerous people simultaneously: for example, sometimes people I meet for the first time tell me that they read my blog regularly, and I hear from some of my "Sumitomo elders," who say that they look forward to blog updates.


I am also deeply impressed with what technology can do today, such as uploading to the blog not only photographs, but also video images. I still remember how things used to be about 30 years ago, when I was stationed overseas. To avoid very hefty international telephone bills, I used to rely mainly on telex to communicate with Japan. I had to type Japanese text in Roman letters, which made the weekly exchange of messages quite troublesome. Considering what is possible today, I feel that those days are of a totally different era.


Transmitting information is an important task for the top management of a global business group, such as the Sumitomo Electric Group, which comprises about 450 companies in some 30 countries around the world and over 180,000 employees on a consolidated basis, because sharing information is vital to aligning the vectors of the members. As nurturing diversity is one of the Group's priority goals for the current business year, I am committed to further improving this blog, specifically toward the objective of increasing the quantity and speed of information transmission in English, so as to promote the global sharing of information, ideas and values among Group members.


Incidentally, I’d like to invite you to view the video clip "Sumitomo Electric’s ZnS Infrared Lens Module," recently updated on the Sumitomo Electric channel on You Tube. The lens introduced in the video is able to "see" even at night or in dark places, thanks to its sensitivity to heat sources (such as the human body) and is expected to have applications in automobiles, outdoor surveillance cameras and so forth.


Related link: Image viewed by ZnS infrared lens module-equipped thermosensitive camera


July 13, 2011,08:32 +0900(JST) Shareholders’ General Meeting


On Friday, June 24, Sumitomo Electric held its 141st annual shareholders’ general meeting in Osaka, with over 600 shareholders in attendance, a figure well above last year’s. This year, the meeting hall lighting was kept at 80% of its normal level, with the air-conditioning also set at a temperature slightly higher than in an average year, to save electricity – our small contribution to post-March 11 (Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami) Japan.


The meeting opened with the company’s fiscal 2010 business performance and auditing reports, accompanied by slides. I followed that with my presentation of the challenges we will be tackling in the new fiscal year and beyond; I then invited questions from the floor.


As at last year’s general meeting, questions were slow to come at first, but at the management team’s urging, questions were posed one by one, which we did our best to answer. In this way, for about an hour we had a very good exchange with our shareholders. I would like to introduce some of the questions we received.


First of all, regarding the Anti-Monopoly Act violation issue, which caused much anxiety, we explained that, in accordance with the Sumitomo Spirit, we had all necessary measures in place to prevent a recurrence.


In response to questions regarding demand deriving from post-disaster restoration, we stated that we would make sure to capture demand relating to power supply and communication systems, which demand is expected to emerge eventually, although the government-led restoration programs are currently behind schedule. We also explained that our main segment, automotive-related business, is expected to start picking up from the second half of the current year.


We also received questions about solar cells and other renewable energy-related projects. In reply to these questions, we introduced the following projects: the Micro Smart-Grid Demonstration System at Osaka Works, regarding which we recently issued a press release; heat-collecting solar cells developed in-house; and redox flow batteries. We expressed our wish to continue offering to society quality products and technologies that we develop through ingenious combination of various “seeds” discovered within the Sumitomo Electric Group.


Some questions concerned risk diversification and possible overseas relocation - subjects much discussed since March 11. In response, we explained that Sumitomo Electric already has a global network of some 300 companies, 60% of which are located outside Japan, and that this network has enabled us to continue operating with a minimum of inconvenience to our customers following the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. We further explained as follows: globalization is destined to continue in the future, while we must promote cross-cultural, racial and ethnic diversity in our organization, given some serious concern about Japanese economy and society; the single key to succeeding in the three major transformational moves (globalization, diversification, and Japan’s recovery) lies in innovation that also covers our business model; we intend to develop our business by keeping our focus on R&D as strongly as before, even during hard times, so that we can continue developing and creating something new in Japan.


We also received questions about R&D, human resource development, the business portfolio as envisioned in VISION 2012, and dividend payment policy.


Throughout the shareholders’ general meeting, as President and CEO I tried my best to express my frank and sincere views regarding the company’s current status, future challenges and mid- and long-term orientation. I hope that the meeting amply fulfilled its role as a venue for open two-way communication between the management team and shareholders. Sumitomo Electric is such a long-lived company that it might be likened to an object set in dull silver, but we are determined to keep our company active and open when it comes to communicating information about our activities and ideas. Your continued warm support for Sumitomo Electric will be much appreciated.

July 11, 2011,10:05 +0900(JST) Honored as “Copper Man of the Year 2011”: Receiving the Ankh Award (5)


So let’s get back to the question about why copper was also called “Ankh,” although this can be a bit complicated, since we have to go all the way back to ancient Egypt.
Allow me to quote Mr. Hiroaki Yokoi, former Secretary General of the Japan Copper Development Association (JCDA), who wrote the following passage in the JCDA’s PR magazine Copper & Brass, No. 158:


Ankh symbol on my jacket“On the back cover of his book Do no Ohanashi (Story of Copper), our late great elder Shinichi Nakata explains as follows: the ancient Egyptians used a hieroglyph, made of a “T” topped by a circle, to signify life. This is called the Ankh symbol. The ancient Romans assigned the Ankh symbol to copper in astrology, likening copper to Venus. Today, a symbol comprising a plus sign (+) with a circle on top is used to signify copper (…) In ancient Rome, copper was called cuprum after Cyprus Island, a major copper production site in those days. This is the etymological origin of ‘copper.’ Copper was also called ankh, in the sense of the word used in ancient Egypt, because the Ankh symbol signified eternal life, and copper, which can be recycled and reused countless times, resonates with the notion of eternal life.”


Today the ankh symbol is used in the Copper Club and JCDA logos. The official name of the Copper Man of the Year is the “Ankh Award.”


In the award ceremony at the Copper Club, I was wearing a badge in the shape of the ankh symbol on my jacket.


The more I learn about copper, and its relationship with humanity since ancient times, the more deeply honored I feel about working in the copper industry and receiving the Ankh Award.


(Postscript)

Financing partly from the participation fees of the annual dinner and donations by companies, the Copper Club offers educational grants to university students. In 2011, the recipients include students at Tohoku University, which was severely damaged by the Tohoku Earthquake. Sumitomo Electric has a close link with Tohoku University: over 150 graduates currently work with us, and SEI Group CSR Foundation has donated to the university course. This year Sumitomo Electric made a donation to the Copper Club to contribute to the activity.

July 11, 2011,09:08 +0900(JST) Honored as “Copper Man of the Year 2011”: Receiving the Ankh Award (4)


Receiving “The Thinker”The Ankh Award came with a Rodin’s “The Thinker” statuette, whose production was specially commissioned to an artist. Mr. Miele handed it to me. It was made of copper and so heavy that, while I posed this way and that with the statuette in my hand, as requested by the photographer, I could not help but constantly feel its weight. I found the choice of “The Thinker” for the award very suggestive, and appreciated the thoughtfulness.

 
The ceremony was finally over, and I was about to step down from the stage when Mr. Miele and Mr. Andrew G. Kireta Sr., Executive Director of the Copper Club, asked me to stay. I wondered what was going to happen. Then a Chicago Cubs (Chicago-based Major League baseball team) cap and a baseball bat with my name inscribed were presented to me as special gifts!


Receiving a Chicago Cubs capThe Cubs were my favorite team when I was stationed in Chicago from 1973 to 1978. How did they know about that? I was stunned. Probably someone had consulted my secretary beforehand. This was indeed a delightful surprise, as well as a learning experience: I was made aware once again that some Americans, deceptively careless on the surface, are truly considerate and willing to go the extra mile to please others.

 
I told Mr. Miele, “Today is one of the happiest days in my life.” He gave me a happy and comfortable smile in reply.

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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