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.