April 30, 2014,18:35 +0900(JST) Keep It Up, Ma-kun!

Masahiro Tanaka, a baseball pitcher affectionately called “Ma-kun” by many fans in Japan, is coming off a successful season in the New York Yankees.

Our Itami Works is close to the elementary school where Mr. Tanaka began his baseball life. I heard that some of our staff members were acquainted with him when he was a child. I also heard that he, as an elementary school student, inscribed a nameplate for a tree in Koyaike Park next to the Works. As Itami is the starting point of my own career, I am proud that the city produced such a great hero and very happy for him and his success.

These days, many sport players across the ocean being expected to demonstrate superior performance in the local leagues. However, what will await them is not just enthusiastic praise. Exposed to daily fierce competition with top-notch players from all over the world, they will be harshly criticized by both the vigilant mass media and ardent fans when they cannot generate the desired results. At the risk of receiving such treatment, these athletes have chosen to try their hand in the world’s most prestigious leagues. I would like to applaud these young people for their ambitious efforts.

For these athletes (as well as for ourselves), good health is a key priority. I hope that they will take care not to become injured and demonstrate their fullest capacities before the world.

April 22, 2014,17:20 +0900(JST) At the Beginning of the "New" J-Power Systems Corporation

As of April 1, 50% of J-Power Systems Corporation (JPS)’s shares were transferred from Hitachi Metals, Ltd. to Sumitomo Electric, making JPS one of our wholly-owned companies. On April 7, I visited the company’s plants in Minato, Toyoura, and Hidaka, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The history of JPS began in 2001, when we established the company jointly with Hitachi Cable, Ltd. (in those days) on a 50/50 basis. However, due to the scheme of contributing equal shares of capital, there were delays in making management decisions or difficulties in taking bold actions in some cases. The result is that JPS has fallen far behind European manufacturers over the past 10 years or so. Fearing that if nothing changed, the electric cable business, which boasts high-level technological expertise, would gradually lose its momentum, we had repeated discussions with Hitachi, leading to the decision for us to take over full ownership of JPS.

At the Beginning of the New J-Power Systems CorporationJPSAt the Beginning of the New J-Power Systems CorporationJPS
At the plants, I received explanations of the manufacturing processes and operations. Subsequently, I had time to share my ideas with the staff of JPS. Taking the opportunity, I gave them a frank description of the circumstances of the company in joining the Sumitomo Electric Group, as well as an explanation of the Sumitomo Spirit. I encouraged the staff to work hard together with other group members to become the No. 1 electric cable manufacturer in the world, and they made a fresh start for the new fiscal year.

Being interviewed by JWAYOn the day of the visit, I was interviewed by JWAY, a local cable TV station in Hitachi City, indicating the local’s great expectations placed on the new JPS. We must absolutely ensure that the company develops dynamically as the world’s leading cable manufacturer. I hope to receive your continuing encouragement and support.

April 11, 2014,10:15 +0900(JST) Inari Festival at Osaka Works

Every year on the first Sunday in April, to mark the anniversary of the founding of Sumitomo Electric, we celebrate the Inari Festival at all our Works in Japan. This year, I attended the festival held at the Osaka Works, where cherry blossoms had just come into full bloom.

Cherry blossoms at the Osaka Works

At 9:30 a.m., a Shinto ritual began at Takakura Inari Shrine, located at the northern end of the Osaka Works. The ritual was attended by approximately 70 to 80 people, including executive officers and production group managers working at the Works, labor union directors, and staff members from subcontracting companies. A Shinto priest invited from the neighboring Ubusuna Shrine read aloud a prayer in hopes for further prosperity of Sumitomo Electric and safety of all our staff members.

Takakura Inari Shrine

It was very cold this day. Rain sometimes hit the roof of our tent, and at other times a strong wind blew suddenly, making cherry blossoms flutter down. This was repeated during the ritual, and I was chilled to the bone by the end of the nearly one-hour event. Thanks to the naorai (drinking after a Shinto ritual), I was able to warm myself up while having a ritual libation of sake and enjoying chatting with other attendees, however, the cold weather seemed to prevent many local residents and employees’ families from attending the festival this year.

Me buying flowers at a booth

April 11, 2014,08:45 +0900(JST) Illuminate a Small Corner of Society

With the beginning of April, balmy spring days have finally arrived, making cherry trees come into full bloom instantly. Amidst this scene, Sumitomo Electric held a welcome ceremony for new staff members last week. I know that there are arguments against simultaneous recruiting of new graduates and against university enrollment in spring. However, I feel that it is not that bad for young people to make a new start and make new acquaintances in the pleasant season of cherry blossoms in full bloom.

The purpose of our welcome ceremony is not only to welcome new graduates who have just begun their business careers at Sumitomo Electric, but also to encourage those who have switched jobs from different companies and have already begun working for us. At the ceremony, I asked more than 230 attendees to do the following two things: 1) master the basics of their work and do their work conscientiously, and 2) take great care of their communication with others.

Illuminate a Small Corner of Society

Even though you begin working with high goals, it is rare that you will have the opportunity so soon to realize such goals. You will need to wait for such an opportunity to come, while working on simple and small jobs conscientiously, building up your achievements, and developing your capabilities. Even if you are assigned to a post different from what you expected, you will often identify the role you are supposed to play by working very hard on your own assignments. To explain these things, during my speech at the welcome ceremony, I introduced the phrase “Illuminate a Small Corner of Society.”

At this year’s welcome ceremony, I saw many more female and foreign staff members from the podium than I did at previous events. I hope that young staff members play their roles fully and actively engaging in communication regardless of their age, position and background, and thereby bring passionate energy to Sumitomo Electric.

April 7, 2014,13:15 +0900(JST) Unexpectedly…

Unexpectedly, I have been appointed to be a member of the executive board of the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in 2020. I was certainly worried that I might not be able to handle the responsibilities of both being a member of the executive board and the president of a company. However, looking at the positive side of the opportunity, which would be an invaluable experience for me, I have decided to accept the offer. Although I doubt if I can be of much use, I will do my best with the spirit of Banji-nissei (doing your sincere best in not only business but also every aspect of your life).

The last Tokyo Games were held in 1964, exactly half a century ago. In those days, Japan was experiencing a continuously growing economy, the so-called “period of high-level economic growth.” As indicated by Japan’s participation in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the country was returning to international society. Along with the Tokaido Bullet Train, the Tokyo Games were a symbolic event to make the world fully aware of the reconstruction of post-war Japan. At that time, I was a member of the athletics club of my university, and I supported the Tokyo Games as a staff member behind the scenes. Watching international athletes demonstrating their capabilities dynamically at the National Athletic Stadium, I felt that Japan, a defeated nation, was finally being recognized by the world once again.

However, what has become of Japan 50 years later? The country sometimes seems to have lost ground to emerging economies in the fields of politics and economics, reducing the presence of Japan in international society. In addition, while the population ages and fewer babies are born, there are many other problems regarding recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear power station accident. Although things have become slightly better due to “Abenomics,” this does not mean that Japan has recovered the momentum that it used to have in its heyday.

Amidst this situation, preparations for the Tokyo Games have begun. There is a mix of expectations for positive economic effects and concern that priority might be shifted from the reconstruction of disaster-affected areas, and that the Games might lead to the acceleration of overconcentration of economic activity in Tokyo. The basic premise is to make the Games an event in which participating athletes can fully demonstrate their capabilities. However, I feel that it would be great if we could take this opportunity to share a wide variety of wisdom to solve the various problems that confront Japan today. Six years to go before 2020. Although it might seem that there is plenty of time left, there is not, actually.

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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