October 31, 2014,15:28 +0900(JST) Osaka Marathon

On October 26, the 4th Osaka Marathon took place.

Osaka Marathon

This year again, the event attracted 30,000 runners, as well as 1.3 million spectators rooting for them along the route, indicating that this marathon has been fully established as a local special event of autumn in Osaka. The number of participants from abroad also increased to 3,200, double from last year, showing that the global profile of this race has been also increasing. Moreover, as a charity function, one of the important aspects of the Osaka Marathon, the event has steadily generated more and more positive results each time. This year, even before the event, the donation amount exceeded 100 million yen. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all those involved in this event.

On the day of the race, under a fresh autumn sky... This is a phrase that I intended to use for this article, but actually, as of the starting time of 9:00 a.m., it was already 24°C. Although I was just rooting for participants, it was still really hot to me, and I guess the conditions were a little bit tough for runners. This possibly was because the excitement generated by my beloved professional baseball team Hanshin Tigers winning the night before still filled the air.

In the men’s race, Jackson Limo of Kenya, a marathon nation, set a new event record and won the race for the second consecutive year. On the women’s side, Maryna Damantsevich of Belarus won the race.

With Maryna Damantsevich of Belarus, winner of the women’s race. I heard that recently the temperature in her country could be below freezing point, so her comment right after her win was “it was hot!”

Meanwhile, in the wheelchair race, Hiroki Nishida finished in 1:29:40 to win the race. This means that in the city of Osaka, which is always crowded with cars, he raced his wheelchair at an average speed of nearly 30 km/h without stopping at any traffic lights.

From Sumitomo Electric, not members of the athletic club, which I often mention in this blog, but many staff members not in the athletic club who simply love running marathons participated in the Osaka Marathon. While some staff came from various parts in Japan, others came from abroad, such as the U.S. and Hong Kong. I’m very impressed to know how much they love running. (Incidentally, my secretary also successfully completed the race, yet the next day was busy working hard as usual, as if nothing special had happened.)

Together with Sumitomo Electric staff members who finished the race. Some finished in under 3 hours.

I would like to express my deep respect to those who planned and operated such a huge-scale event; they must have worked extremely hard to make the event successful. Also, I believe that the success of this event would have been impossible without the cooperation of the 10,000 volunteer staff and supporters from among the citizens of Osaka. I would like to once again express my cordial gratitude to everyone involved in this event.

October 30, 2014,10:35 +0900(JST) I Attend IWCC Board Meeting and LME Gala Dinner

From October 20 to 22, I went to London, where it was becoming more and more autumnal, for the first time in a year. My purpose was to attend a regular board meeting of the International Wrought Copper Council (IWCC), and also an annual gala dinner of the London Metal Exchange (LME). Invited to the gala party this year as Chairman of the Japanese Electric Wire & Cable Makers’ Association, I attended the large-scale party held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, which faces Hyde Park. Although it was a sit-down party drawing as many as 2,000 people involved in the copper industry at this single event, the food and drink service was totally excellent.

Since the owner of the LME had changed to the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing two years ago, the number of attendees from China increased. The number of seats at the top table almost doubled, those of which increased were seated by those present from China. I felt that the Metal Exchange, with its long history in the U.K., was inundated by the vigorous Chinese language.

At an IWCC board meeting, we often discuss problems to be solved, such as LME warehousing problems, possibly continuing increased commission, and problems related to systems in terms of transparency, speculation and other aspects. We hope that these problems will be solved, and that the current commodity transactions will be improved through systems that are fair to actual users. To realize this, without forgetting the LME’s philosophy and original purposes, it is necessary for the LME and related organizations across the world to have smooth and frank communications.

October 23, 2014,15:30 +0900(JST) Official Song for the Osaka Marathon

It is now less than one week before the Osaka Marathon takes off on October 26. The race course starts at Osaka Castle, and runs along Midosuji Boulevard and many other areas in the city of Osaka. This huge-scale marathon annually draws as many as 30,000 runners, as well as 1.2 million spectators rooting for runners along the route. Since 2012, I have served as chairman of the organizing committee for this event.

This marathon race attracts not only athlete runners and citizen runners, but also many well-known people such as Mr. Kentaro Kobuchi, a member of the popular musical duo, Kobukuro. He began participating in the race in 2012.

When I met Mr. Kobuchi, I asked him directly to make an official song for the marathon race. He willingly accepted the request and then composed the official song, called “42.195 km.”

It is a rhythmical song that you are sure to enjoy listening, especially while running. The Kansai dialect is used for the lyrics based on the dual themes of the marathon and Osaka. The lyrics will arouse sympathy from many people, and if you are from the Kansai region, you will definitely say “soya-soya” (“I agree”). Since this is a very encouraging song, whether you are from Kansai or not, you must have a listen!

Osaka Marathon Official Website (in English)

October 23, 2014,15:00 +0900(JST) Business Trip to the U.S.

From October 8 to 11, I went to the U.S. on business, my first trip there in many years.

The first purpose of the trip was to inspect a tungsten refining and recycling plant that has begun operation in Buffalo, New York. The next purpose was to attend the Sumitomo Electric Executive Conference of the Americas (SEECA), an annual meeting for top executives of our subsidiaries in the Americas. The final purpose was for me as chairman of the Osaka Marathon Organizing Committee to pay a courtesy visit to Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski of the Chicago Marathon, which has formed an alliance with the Osaka Marathon. The business trip’s schedule was thus very tight.

Business Trip to the U.S.

The SEECA was attended by more than 50 people from 21 companies located in the U.S., Mexico, and Brazil. At the conference, the president of each company explained his/her company’s business results, future visions, and problems, which was followed by active discussions. Since everyone there was participating in the conference to obtain some guidance based on which they would take action, they engaged in the discussions very seriously. (All the participants at the conference spoke English, of course.)

While some companies boasted good business results, others suffered poor results. However, the conference made me clearly understand that despite a wide variety of problems, all the companies were making efforts to generate positive results. This very significant conference has made me realize that a free and frank exchange of opinions is the foundation for our growth.

With Osaka Marathon staff and runners dispatched from OsakaMeanwhile, the Chicago Marathon held on the 12th drew 45,000 runners, making the event even more spectacular than ever. Although, I could not observe the race in person due to my schedule, I heard that the first, second and third places in the men’s race were won by runners from Kenya, all of whom finished under 2 hours and 5 minutes. When a marathon race was held in Berlin recently, the winner marked a new world record of under 2 hours and 3 minutes. Therefore, I’m no longer surprised to hear that runners finish their races under 2 hours and 5 minutes, although this makes me aware of the big gap with Japanese athletes. I hope that Japanese runners will energize themselves.

The Osaka Marathon will be held on October 26. I ask for your wholehearted support for the event.

October 8, 2014,10:35 +0900(JST) At Autumn Ceremony to Welcome New Staff

The other day (on October 1), we held an autumn ceremony to welcome new staff. Compared with the ceremony held in spring, the number of participants was smaller, less than 30. However, since the participants in the autumn ceremony were all seated closer to us than in the spring one, we were able to see their faces more clearly, showing mixed feelings of self-confidence, hope, anxiety, and nervousness.

Staff joining us in and after April participated in the ceremony

Every time I attend a ceremony to welcome new staff, I speak about how we should work at our jobs. Although there are some differences in detail, the basic concept is always the same. At the autumn ceremony this year, I again explained the Sumitomo Business Spirit, focusing on the key phrases of “Banji-nissei” (do your sincere best in not only business but also every aspect of your life), “Shinyo-kakujitsu” (place prime importance on integrity and sound management), and “Fusu-furi” (do not act rashly or carelessly in pursuit of easy gains). Since I have mentioned these phrases several times before in this blog, some of you may already know about them.

Subsequently, I spoke about the significance of “illuminating a small corner of society.” It is reported that this is a phrase by the Japanese Buddhist monk Saicho. It is not so often that products manufactured by us, a B2B business operator, capture the spotlight. However, even though we don’t draw much attention from the general public, we have a mission to supply products that are an essential part of society. In this sense, we must always work hard to “illuminate a small corner of society.” Even if the job seems simple and unspectacular, we must do our best without forgetting the importance of the basics, and take pride in our work as professionals. To deliver these messages, I cited the monk’s phrase and encouraged the young staff.

I concluded my speech by emphasizing the importance of communication. The Sumitomo Electric Group, which consists of more than 220,000 staff all over the world, is sustained by close communication among staff regardless of their age, position and background. To secure such communication, it is, of course, necessary to improve language skills. When I said this, the young staff seemed to have a feeling of tension and determination.

I hope that they will take care of their health, and work very hard.

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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