February 13, 2015,11:30 +0900(JST) Possibility of Agriculture

Although this happened prior to the date of my previous blog entry, at the end of January I visited Chiba University to observe the field trial of high sugar content tomato cultivation that we are promoting jointly with the university.

"What? Tomato cultivation by Sumitomo Electric?" Although you may be surprised about this, we have actually had a long-time connection with agriculture. Around 1970, we began research on industrialization of agriculture, followed by the development of Sandponics, a cultivation system that uses a combination of a sand cultivation technique, with automatic irrigation and fertilization functions. Although around 1996 there were about 150 farmers across Japan using Sandponics, we stopped development of the system for various reasons, while the number of farmers using the system is also decreasing partly due to a lack of successors.

When preparing our on-going mid-term management plan VISION 2017, however, we discussed whether some of our technologies could contribute to water and food production, which will be essential in the future. As a result, we have decided to focus on Sandponics once again and take on challenges in the field of agriculture.

In July last year, we concluded a joint research contract with Chiba University, and since November we have been continuing a field trial of tomato cultivation using Sandponics on the university's research farm. High-quality, sweet tomatoes are beginning to be produced on the farm. (I sampled one such tomato, and it was certainly sweet and delicious.) The old Sandponics required a considerable amount of culture media (sand), making the system heavy, which was a disadvantage of the system. However, under the current version, it is possible to cultivate items with a little media.

The instructors for this field trial commented that Sandponics might find use even in places without developed infrastructure in foreign countries.

Previously, in the domain of agriculture, each farmer used to have his or her own accumulation of a wide variety of know-how, such as related to climate and soil conditions, as well as knacks for watering and fertilizing. In our project, however, we are collecting an enormous amount of such data every moment. Using this big data, we would like to establish technology as soon as possible that can realize both high quality and plentiful crops.

In addition, if we can combine Sandponics with our concentrator photovoltaic system, redox flow battery and system engineering, I'm sure that it will become possible to operate Sandponics with natural energy, to control complex conditions, and achieve stable agricultural production even in places with insufficient infrastructure. I personally expect that good crops will become available even in wilderness areas.

February 13, 2015,11:10 +0900(JST) Our Volleyball Club Visits to Report its Victory

The other day, our Osaka volleyball club visited me to report its victory at the All Japan Nine-Man Volleyball Championships held in January. This was the club's ninth victory after a break of two years.

Compared with six-man volleyball, nine-man volleyball may be less familiar to many people, but in Japan, the original mainstream was nine-man volleyball and it is still actively played in this country. First held in 1927, the All Japan Nine-Man Volleyball Championships celebrated their 84th anniversary this year. To compete in the event, 200 teams participated in preliminary matches. Winning a number of tough games, our volleyball club successfully came out on top.

According to the club manager, the frustration that they had felt for the past two years roused all the members. Even when put on the defensive, they kept their cool and continued to play carefully without using manipulative techniques. I guess that since there is almost no difference in skill between high level teams, a difference in terms of determination to win sometimes decides the result of a game.

The trophy has the name of each winning team inscribed on it, making me realize the long history of volleyball in this country. I hope that our volleyball club will continue to practice even harder in order to maintain the winner's position, without forgetting the mindset of a challenger and also showing appreciation to those who support the club.

February 13, 2015,10:50 +0900(JST) Business Results for the Third Quarter of Fiscal 2014

On February 3, we announced our business results for the third quarter (link to our Web site). Both sales and income for the first nine months of fiscal 2014 (April-December) increased from the corresponding period of the previous year. However, a detailed analysis of the results tells us that there are a wide variety of problems that we need to tackle. Although we have only less than two months before the end of this fiscal year, we will continue to do our best.

I personally don't feel that there is any sign of a steady recovery for the world economy. The world is filled with anxiety, such as concern over the current low price of crude oil, the reoccurrence of the EU debt crisis, and the stagnation of emerging countries. Added to these is the explosive situation in the Middle East-there is no predicting how the situation will develop in the future and what impact it will have on the world.

We need to operate our business smoothly under such uncertainty, although this also applies to every other company in the world. I believe that there must be opportunities even in such a severe situation. I call on all members of Sumitomo Electric to address all problems promptly and take on new challenges without missing any opportunities.

Fact Book FY2014 3rd Edition [PDF:622KB]

February 4, 2015,11:30 +0900(JST) Fellow and Senior Specialist Certification Award Ceremony

Every January, I am very busy traveling around Japan to visit clients and exchange New Year's greetings. The other day, when I returned to the Osaka head office during my hectic schedule, I attended a ceremony to award the certifications of Fellow and Senior Specialist.

This certification program was launched in 2004. This year, we awarded certifications to a total of 19 employees, including those who had received certifications last year as well. In addition, we also certified another 83 employees as Departmental Specialists. The purpose of this program is to recognize employees with high-level expertise, skills and know-how, and encourage them to develop their successors.

The certificate handed to each awardee is valid for one year. We carefully review their performance every year. This is because since cutting-edge fields progress very rapidly, we hope that certification awardees will continue their unwavering efforts to remain worthy of their certification and maintain an outstanding capability that their junior colleagues will not be able to obtain so easily.

At the same time, we assign to Fellows and Specialists the task of developing human resources. If a manufacturer wishes to achieve sustainable growth, the manufacturer needs to continue to develop new technologies and products without rest and place them onto the market in quick succession. The employees to whom we awarded certifications this year are top-ranking players in their respective fields, and boast an outstanding track record of achievement. However, we need them to further demonstrate their capability in fostering their successors for the future of Sumitomo Electric Industries.

The certification awardees need to maintain an overwhelming capability over their junior colleagues, and at the same time, develop their colleagues' skills so that they can eventually surpass them. This must be a difficult but challenging task.

February 4, 2015,11:00 +0900(JST) Osaka Women's Marathon and Osaka Half Marathon

On the fine day of January 25, as President of the Osaka Association of All Athletics, I watched the Osaka Women's Marathon and the Osaka Half Marathon. Meanwhile, two members from the athletics club of Sumitomo Electric competed in the Osaka Half Marathon. While Shota Atsuchi came in fifth, Yukio Fujimura finished seventh.

Together with Mr. Fujimura (second from right) and Mr. Atsuchi (third from right) after the race
▲Together with Mr. Fujimura (second from right) and Mr. Atsuchi (third from right) after the race

In the women's marathon, Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko from Ukraine lived up to people's pre-race expectations, being victorious for the third consecutive year. Unlike last year and the year before last, when she caught up with fast runners in the latter half of each race, this year, she led the race in the top group from the beginning, and maintained a large lead over the others in the latter half. Recording a personal best time of 2:22:09, she won an overwhelming victory.

Turning to the Japanese runners, Risa Shigetomo, who had been in a slump, attacked the race aggressively from the beginning and did not give up until the end. Coming in third, she was the top Japanese finisher. Apart from her fine performance were the efforts of young runners recommended to the race under the new "Next Heroine" program. While Chieko Kido came in fifth, Yukiko Okuno finished eighth. Although this was the first marathon for both of them, they put in wonderful performances, suggesting that they have a promising future.

Now, it is one month before the 70th Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, which we will support as the special sponsor as usual. (The race will start at 12:30 on Sunday, March 1.) This event will double as one of Japan's trials for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics to be held in Beijing. I hope that new heroes will appear in the race to revitalize the men's marathon in Japan.

* Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko's record in this event has been deleted on December 22, 2015.

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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