I would like to wish you all a very happy new year, and take this opportunity to thank you for your warm support of the Sumitomo Electric Group.
Looking back on 2010, we can say that in economic terms it was a year marked with lack of transparency and uncertainties, despite the overall tendency of mild worldwide recovery: continuously high unemployment figures and prolonged recession due to credit crunch in Europe and North America; signs of inflation in China and other newly emerging economies, triggered by the influx of speculative funds; and the continued deflationary trend in Japan, with the constant appreciation in value of the yen.
Under such circumstances, the Sumitomo Electric Group worked vigorously throughout the year toward realizing the goals set in our mid-term business plan "VISION 2012," reinforcing our manufacturing capabilities - essential for a manufacturer - through deeper internal solidification; expanding our business activities to new markets (global markets) to better respond to demand from newly emerging economies; and developing new business domains with new products based on our core technologies.
As a result, we made significant progress in the respective business segments.
In the Automotive segment, to promote cost saving and deal with the appreciation of the yen, we streamlined our manufacturing bases in Japan while expanding or improving those in China, ASEAN countries and North Africa. We developed environment-friendly, lightweight wiring harnesses using aluminum, and commenced shipments.
In the Information & Communications segment, we started the mass-production of optical fiber preform in China for the first time as a Japanese company with the aim of better capturing rapidly growing local demand. We developed, and commenced the sale of a composite image-capturing and -processing system "Compovision." This system is based on an application of optical communication technology using near-infrared rays.
In the Electronics segment, we established a common manufacturing base for flexible printed circuits, flexible flat cables and harnesses for electronic equipment, which is intended to better respond to demand, mainly from China and Southeast Asia, as well as from the rest of the world. Moreover, we succeeded in realizing the world’s first commercial mass-production of AZ91 magnesium alloy sheet, and in developing 6-inch gallium nitride (GaN) substrates for white LEDs.
In the Electric Wire & Cable, Energy segment, we expanded our sales of air springs and trolley wire in response to railway-related demand in newly developing countries. We also developed high-temperature superconducting cable and DC power cable, and expanded their sales.
In the Industrial Materials segment, we signed joint-venture agreements in Thailand and China in preparation for establishing a Taiwan base of saw wires for solar cells, demand for which is growing, and to improve our steel cord supply system and strengthen our cost competitiveness. With regard to cemented carbide industrial tools, we expanded our sales office networks in newly emerging countries, while at the same time developing recycling technologies for both assured procurement of raw materials and environmental protection.
What this New Year 2011 holds is not crystal-clear, given the paradigm shifts that are expected in various segments. Nevertheless, the Sumitomo Electric Group remains committed to putting forth the utmost efforts toward the goal of becoming a "Glorious Excellent Company," always true to the Sumitomo Spirit of Banji-nissei (do your sincere best, in not only business but also every aspect of your life), Shinyo-kakujitsu (place importance on integrity and sound management) and Fusu-furi (do not act rashly or carelessly in pursuit of easy gains), and always strives to bring about maximum satisfaction to our customers through our products and services. Your continued support and encouragement will be most sincerely appreciated. Finally, I wish for your good health and further prosperity, and hope that you all have a very happy new year.