August 29, 2013,10:00 +0900(JST) Wright Flyer

The other day, after a meeting held in my office, one of the meeting members indicated one object, asking me, "What is that?"

It was a model of the Wright Flyer designed and built by the Wright brothers. At the North American Top Executives' Conference held in July, this model was presented to me from participants. In 1903, the Wright brothers succeeded in a manned powered flight in North Carolina, the venue of the North American Top Executives' Conference. In the photo, the aircraft is heading ahead to the right, and you can see a small doll lying on the wing, which I heard represents how the brothers actually flew the plane.

Wright Flyer

In those days, even after being informed of the successful flight, few scientists and newspaper reporters believed the success immediately, saying that machine cannot have flown because it was heavier than air. This implies that the aircraft was an invention that defied conventional common wisdom. Far from that, considering the influence that the aircraft subsequently has had on society, it was not just an invention, but a dramatic innovation.

On the model's pedestal is stated, "Flight to Vision 2017." The basic concept of our group's mid-term management plan VISION 2017 is innovation. I hope that, following the example of the Wright brothers, our group will also generate innovation that will contribute greatly to society.

August 16, 2013,10:40 +0900(JST) Lecture Delivered at Doshisha University

A little while ago, I was requested to deliver a lecture at Doshisha University, and on July 24, I gave a lecture especially to freshmen at the university’s Faculty of Commerce.
Despite the hot weather, the venue was full. I later heard that the event drew approximately 780 people. I was surprised to find that there were many freshmen who wanted to listen to a company president. Since few of the participants have yet to begin studying their specialty, I spoke about my university days, my experiences after I began to work at the Sumitomo Electric Group, and the Group’s human resource development policy.

Lecture Delivered at Doshisha University

In my case, studying and club activities helped me a lot to develop my communication skills and ability to achieve my goals. In addition, when I was working in the U.S. in my youth, there was almost no one around me to help me. However, this gave me the courage to knock on the door of a new customer without any hesitation, as well as the capability to make decisions on my own. Another invaluable asset that I gained in the U.S. is the knowledge that the country is open to new things and is fair enough to admit the value of a high quality product. Even in the days when the quality of Japanese products was believed to be low, people in the U.S. accepted Japanese products, as long as they were high quality. I covered these topics in the lecture.

It is crucial to expand the horizon of your world, especially when you are young. If you try something new, I’m sure that you can absolutely learn something from it, whether the result is successful or not. I hope that the lecture participants will never hesitate to try a wide variety of things, which will make their university days even more significant.

August 16, 2013,10:30 +0900(JST) Sumitomo Electric Group Global Award Ceremony

On August 1, the Sumitomo Electric Group Global Award Ceremony was held for the first time in the past five years at Nakanoshima, Osaka. The event was attended by 53 group companies from Japan and 85 from foreign countries.

In keeping with our goal of becoming a Glorious Excellent Company, this ceremony honors excellent departments in the Sumitomo Electric Group and their activities from the aspects of quality and performance. At this year’s event, I bestowed a certificate of commendation on each of the 91 award winning teams and firmly shook hands with the winners.

Sumitomo Electric Group Global Award Ceremony

I remember that the last time we held the event in 2008, which was the first Sumitomo Electric Group Global Award Ceremony, it was filled with a cheerful atmosphere. This was partly because it took place immediately after we had successfully achieved our first five-year management plan VISION 2007. However, the five years after the ceremony saw a series of serious problems that were out of the control of a single company, such as the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the unprecedentedly strong yen, large-scale natural disasters, and the deterioration of Japanese diplomatic relationships with neighboring countries. As a result, VISION 2012 ended in a disappointing result.

Nevertheless, also at the ceremony held this time, all of the approximately 360 staff members from both domestic and overseas group companies smiled brightly and looked positive. Checking the reasons for their commendations, I found that their tough struggles with various difficulties had led them to create wisdom, which apparently gave them confidence. After the ceremony, I heard of an example where local staff members of our group companies in the U.S., which are located far from each other in that spacious country, got together in order to study and share the Sumitomo Electric way of manufacturing. The cooperation within the Sumitomo Electric Group is being steadily strengthened.

At the party held after the ceremony, I saw staff members from different countries chatting in a friendly manner, even though they seemed to have no direct business relationships. They told me that they had participated in a training program together before. These types of human ties, various experiences, and know-how are not described in a balance sheet. However, they are invaluable assets, which are needed to expand and develop our business. While learning from the result of VISION 2012, it is necessary to always bear in mind Banji-nissei (Do your sincere best in not only business but also every aspect of your life). The party ended by participants pledging to each other to work hard, and positively, in order to exchange even better smiles when they meet again in five years’ time.

August 14, 2013,17:20 +0900(JST) Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Views Our Redox Flow Battery

Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi visited our Yokohama Works on July 31 to see our redox flow battery.

Sumitomo Electric, jointly with Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Inc. (HEPCO), applied for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Large-scale Power Storage Battery System Demonstration Project and was recently selected as an enterprise to participate in the demonstration. Under this project, our redox flow battery will be installed at HEPCO’s Minamihayakita Substation in the first two years and demonstration tests will be conducted over the subsequent three years. The Minister’s visit this time was to directly see the test equipment in operation.

I explained to the Minister, “We have been conducting research on redox flow batteries for about 30 years now. After going through long, difficult times, which even made us consider giving up the research, the project is finally about to blossom.” The Minister said in response, “This is the first attempt in the world to install a large-scale power storage battery system on the electric power system side. Storage batteries are crucial not only for ensuring stable supply of renewable energy and promoting the use in Japan but also for presenting excellent advanced technologies globally to increase Japan’s competitiveness. I therefore have high expectations for this project.”

Minister Motegi (5th from left) and others in front of redox flow battery

Although it was a whirlwind visit, I strongly appreciate his taking time out of his tight schedule to visit us. Taking advantage of the experience of various failures over 30 years of research and development, we will make continuous efforts to further advance our innovation.
(⇒Press Release:“Selected to be Subsidized by the Governmental Program for Urgent Demonstration Project of Large-scale Energy Storage Systems”)

August 14, 2013,17:15 +0900(JST) Business Results for the First Quarter of FY 2013

On July 30, we announced our business results for the first quarter of fiscal 2013.

Our sales for the quarter totaled ¥587.3 billion, with operating income of ¥19.4 billion, ordinary income of ¥26.6 billion and net income of ¥15.9 billion-all higher than the corresponding figures recorded in the same period the previous year.

It may seem to be a good start for the year. However, considering that we were suffering a year ago from the super-strong yen of even below 80 yen per dollar, we still have many tasks to address. With the business environment and the currency trend unpredictable, I am urging the managers of each department of our company to establish a corporate structure capable of making profits even with an exchange rate of 80 yen to the dollar.

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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