August 30, 2011,09:53 +0900(JST) Visiting India

India, a country that has existed since time immemorial, was once known in Japan as Tenjiku, with images of "a country of gods and faiths" attached to this ancient name. Today, India is a powerful newly emerging economy with a population of 1.2 billion, GDP reaching 1.43 trillion US dollars (in 2010; approximately 120 trillion yen; 11th in the world), and an annual growth rate of about 10%. India's total number of cell phone subscriptions is 820 million, and the number of cell phone terminals sold in 2011 is expected to surpass 200 million. India is also one of the most important markets for the Sumitomo Electric Group since the country produces 2.6 million automobiles per year (7th in the world) and is expected to sell over 3 million vehicles this year.

Sumitomo Electric has a long history of business with India. The company's historical documents record the export of electric wire cables to Mumbai and Chennai after the end of the First World War; a contract for technical training related to coated wire signed with an Indian electric wire manufacturer in 1950; and the export of ACSR (aluminum cable steel reinforced) wire as the company's first large-scale export after the Second World War.

Bridegroom on horsebackAt present, five Sumitomo Electric Group companies and several representative offices engage in the sales of automotive wiring harnesses, vibration-proof rubber, cutting tools and optical fiber fusion splicers, as well as thin-film coating-related services, in New Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and other locations. In addition, J-Power Systems Corporation, a Group company, is currently constructing a high-voltage electric cable manufacturing plant near Mumbai.

I visited India recently because I was invited to the wedding of the son of Mr. V. C. Sehgal, Chairman of Samvardhana Motherson Group, Sumitomo Electric's most important Indian business partner since 1986. India was in the midst of its rainy season, and there was a bit of concern about the weather on the wedding day. However, it turned out to be a beautiful fine day, and we attended a marvelous wedding ceremony, which was defined as an important official event in which the bride and the bridegroom's mutual trust was confirmed. The wedding ceremony and reception, which together lasted for almost two weeks, were held on a large scale almost inconceivable in Japan, with well over 1,000 guests invited each day. Vibrant music was played non-stop, to which many guests were seen dancing to their heart's delight. I was told that the total number of guests exceeded 15,000.

Since I was in India during a weekend, I had the time to visit the Taj Mahal and Qutub Minar in southern Delhi.

Visiting Qutub Minar With the Taj Mahal in the background

As well, a dozen Japanese Sumitomo Electric Group employees stationed at several locations in India had the kindness to get together to welcome their president from Japan. I was happy to see them in good health and spirits. My message to them: Thank you very much for your contribution and keep it up for the development of India, the local people, and the Sumitomo Electric Group.

August 29, 2011,14:11 +0900(JST) Statues of Chinese zodiac animal heads

In front of the statuesIn a recent entry, I wrote that I was at the Plaza Hotel in New York in early June. At the time, I saw the statues of the 12 Chinese zodiac animal heads in front of the hotel. In the photo you can see only six of them (Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram and Monkey). I found these considerably large animal heads quite impressive.

The statues were created by the well-known Chinese artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei. In late June, Mr. Ai's release on bail received only small media coverage in Japan, but elsewhere it was a major news story. For example, the Financial Times gave a large space to reporting the event with a photograph of the artist.

I lived outside Japan for over a dozen years in the past, and today I travel abroad frequently. From this experience I have come to perceive a major disparity between Japan and the rest of the world in information transmitted through the mass media. For example, at present, Western media provide an increasing quantity and variety of information on China and India, while less reporting is done concerning Japan.

I’m afraid that such trends of the media have affected the recent diminishing general interest in Japan as the newly emerging countries increase their presence and attract great attention in economic and other spheres of the international community.

Japan's presence in the world could shrink even further if we in Japan do nothing and remain introverted, as the Japanese are said to be at the moment in the wake of the unprecedented disaster. To be sure, the Japanese industrial community is currently hindered by the so-called six-fold handicaps: persistently strong yen, heavy corporate taxes, delayed trade policy readjustments, global warming control measures, reinforced labor restrictions, and most recently added electricity shortage. Nevertheless, we should never forget to turn our eyes to the world and view matters in their proper perspective, always remembering how courageously the Japanese underwent the Meiji Restoration and accomplished its miraculous post-war restoration.

At our New York officeThe Sumitomo Electric Group is a global business entity comprising about 300 overseas companies, with over 40% of its sales and 150,000 employees outside Japan. For the group to continue growing while ranking with the rest of the world, our global diversity must be further encouraged. This means, among other things, having Japanese personnel work abroad and enrich their experience, and actively hiring and promoting non-Japanese personnel in posts that they have previously rarely occupied, so that the Group as a whole can develop the most optimal human resources capable of working on a global scale.

This photo was taken when I visited with our New York personnel in their office. I recall my working years in Chicago in my 20s and truly appreciate the value that this experience added to my career. I do hope that our young personnel who work at and away from home today will accumulate valuable experience and make great achievements in the future.

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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