September 22, 2014,15:25 +0900(JST) At the LME Party

On September 10, a London Metal Exchange (LME) seminar was held in Tokyo. Since I had been invited to the seminar as Chairman of the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association, I flew to Haneda after conducting business in Osaka in the morning, and attended the party held in the evening at the official residence of the British Ambassador to Japan.

The party drew about 200 people, including those involved in related industries. The event began with an excellent speech by his Excellency Mr. Tim Hitchens in fluent Japanese. Following LME CEO Garry Jones, I was called on to deliver a speech as the Chairman of the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association.

I am on the far right, delivering the speech

With LME CEO Garry JonesAs I have mentioned several times before in this blog, the LME is extremely important to copper processors. The prices of most copper raw materials that we procure are based on prices determined by the LME. A basic premise for our business is that copper prices are determined fairly and appropriately. These days, however, there is a growing trend in which copper is treated not for industrial use, but as a financial product, causing price fluctuations. This is having a serious effect on copper processors. LME’s original purpose of providing sound opportunities for metal trading is being lost.

I served as the Chairman of the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC) until this May. At the IWCC, I ensured that the above issue was discussed thoroughly, and I made every effort to secure an opportunity for the IWCC and the LME to exchange opinions frankly. I believe that I put a process in motion to solve the problem, before passing the baton on to the next chairman. Our effort has just begun, but if we have closer communication between related parties and promote efforts seriously to solve the problem, I am convinced that “after rain will come fair weather.” Heavy rain, which we had on the day of the event, is sure to be followed by beautiful weather.

September 16, 2014,08:40 +0900(JST) Watching the Kinki Championships in Athletics

On September 7, I went to the Kimiidera Athletic Stadium in Wakayama, to watch the Kinki Championships in Athletics.

This meet is held in turn by the athletics association of each prefecture in the Kinki region. This year, the event was held in Wakayama Prefecture for two days, September 6 and 7. The competitors in the Kinki Championships in Athletics are athletes who performed well in their events in the preliminary meets held in each prefecture in the Kinki region. This regional meet is an important event that serves as the preliminary for the Japan Championships in Athletics.

Although it was already September, the sunlight was still strong and the temperature was hitting 30°C, making the conditions rather tough. Nevertheless, athletes demonstrated outstanding performances with their fullest strength, drawing cheers from spectators in the stands. Such athletes included many members of Sumitomo Electric’s athletics club who had won at the Hyogo prefectural preliminary meet. At many events, including individual events and relays, they achieved high rankings, including first place; some members established new meet records, too.

Some competitors at the meet were high school students. I hope that among such young athletes, as well as among members of our athletics club, are those who are competent enough to make a spectacular showing at the next Rio de Janeiro Olympics, as well as at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Watching the games from the stadium stands

Yusuke Kotani (in front) and Shintaro Horie, both members of our athletic club, sprinting in the men’s 200 m

September 10, 2014,11:50 +0900(JST) Come on, Global Leaders!

 At the end of August, we held a couple of events in succession, inviting staff from some of our affiliated companies both in Japan and abroad.

On August 27 to 29, we held the Global Leadership Program (GLP), which I have mentioned before in this blog. The program drew a total of 34 participants, comprising 14 from affiliated companies in China, South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Hungary, and 20 Japanese managers.

Also, on the 29th, we invited executive officers and executive managers from foreign affiliated companies who were recognized as Group Global Executive Personnel this April to attend a meeting at which we shared our business spirit and business policies.

At a meeting for Group Global Executive PersonnelAfter our establishment in 1897, we were a typical “Japanese” company for a long time. Since the conclusion of the Plaza Agreement in 1985, however, we have continued to seek the optimum business style by trial and error, in order to adapt to a drastically changing economic environment. We have now become a corporate group comprising about 500 companies around the world, with the total number of employees far surpassing 200,000. Currently, approximately 80% of our staff work at foreign-affiliated companies, which generate more than half of the entire group’s sales and profits.

In this situation, in order to achieve continuous development, it is imperative for the Sumitomo Electric Group to secure a wide variety of competent human resources, whether from Japan or abroad, and to provide an environment where they can demonstrate their capabilities on a higher level. In this regard, in 2011, we established the Global HRM Policy as the basic policy for our HR management. Since then, we have been striving to prepare an HR system design to be shared throughout the entire Sumitomo Electric Group on a global scale, with a view to assigning the right person to the right positions all over the world, and establishing organizations with diversity and high adaptability.

Report meeting at the GLPThis April, we finally reached the first phase where 24 foreign employees were recognized as Group Global Executive Personnel. Our strategy is to provide them with assignments and opportunities to demonstrate their capabilities, to evaluate them based on common standards, to give appropriate treatment to employees who have attained favorable results, and to provide such employees with assignments of a higher level. We hope that through this cycle, a systematic development of executive managers will be achieved. This time, foreign members were appointed as the first batch of Group Global Executive Personnel, however, we would like to extend the scope of such appointments to Sumitomo Electric and other Japanese companies of the Sumitomo Electric Group in an early time.

Joint get-together for participants of the meeting for Group Global Executives and the GLPI also explained this system to participants in the GLP, which I mentioned earlier. I asked them to work hard with consideration given to 1) What to do as a leader, and then 2) What to do in order to demonstrate their capabilities on a global scale. I encouraged them to adopt this two-phase approach, and make continuous efforts in friendly rivalry with each other in order to be selected as Group Global Executive Personnel, without pursuing their own interests. We would like to make the system an opportunity for competent and enthusiastic staff to try new things.

September 1, 2014,11:10 +0900(JST) Minister Amari Visits Yokohama Works to Observe Redox Flow Battery

On August 21, Minister Akira Amari in charge of Economic Revitalization, who also serves as the Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy, visited our Yokohama Works to observe a redox flow battery. On the day of the visit, I went to the Yokohama Works 45 minutes before his scheduled arrival, and confirmed with the staff in charge the arrangements for welcoming the minister, when we were notified that he would arrive about 30 minutes earlier than scheduled. We welcomed him with a fair amount of haste.

When he arrived at the works, the minister was smiling. Once we began our explanation, however, he took notes with a serious look from beginning to end. Asking important questions, he looked as if he were marshalling his thoughts.

Minister Amari (front, second from left). I am on the far right.

I was surprised that he was asking very in-depth questions, such as regarding global trends in the development of renewable energy technology, comparisons between other secondary batteries, and patent strategies. He said that he had recently visited the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany while the Diet was out of session. He went to the applied research institute, which connects basic research at universities with actual business at companies, on the recognition that the activation of research and development and improving its efficiency are necessary in order to realize the growth strategy of “Abenomics.”

In front of the redox flow battery

After observing the redox flow battery, the minister was interviewed by the media accompanying him. He said that his visit had made him recognize that a redox flow battery could not be commercialized without advanced Japanese manufacturing technology. He continued to say that the national government would like to promote technological development of the battery, as well as business development in foreign countries. This would be very helpful. He was taking notes even of the challenges regarding commercialization, which means that we cannot make a botch of things. To live up to his expectations, we plan to accelerate our development and commercialization of the redox flow battery.

It was so hot on this day that I was worried that my suit would be scorched. It must have been tough for the staff members of the Cabinet Office who made arrangements for the minister’s visit, the security staff, and the staff members of Sumitomo Electric who were in charge of the visit. I would like to once again express my appreciation to them all.

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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