In January every year, I fly around Japan to make New Year visits to our customers and partners, and attend New Year parties. Judging from what I heard on those occasions this year, a common view on the economic prospect is that, although the new year got off to a good start - due partly to diminished uncertainty about the U.S. and European economies and the upward trend in stock market prices - the future of the economy remains unclear and no optimism is warranted regarding the future business environment.
The term "globalization" seems to have come into use in the 1970s, but it has only been since the 1990s that the waves of globalization have grown in scale and velocity, like tsunami waves, hitting not only the economy but also society overall. During that period, the world witnessed the end of the Cold War structure, remarkable improvement in transportation convenience and advances in information and communications technology. As a result of globalization, paradigm shifts have been taking place in various aspects.
Looking back over the 100 years of Sumitomo Electric's history, our predecessors dealt relatively successfully with past paradigm shifts. Today, we are experiencing transformation of unprecedented dimension. For continuous sustainable development, we should take advantage of this historic turning point as a golden opportunity. To do so, it is important to ensure that every member of the Sumitomo Electric Group understands how to approach and respond to the ongoing paradigm shift. This is why, in my message for the New Year 2011, I asked employees to use and enhance multifaceted and strategic perspectives.
In Chinese astrology as interpreted by Masahiro Yasuoka (1898-1983) based on Wang Yangming's Neo-Confucianist teachings, last year was the "Year of the Yang Metal Tiger" (kanoe-tora), which can be expressed as "the year of making a united effort to start new creative activities." This year is the "Year of the Yin Metal Rabbit" (kanoto-u), in which, while continuing the activities that have been ongoing since the previous year, we "keep fundamentals in mind, adopt a methodical approach, overcome difficulties with determination and move toward prosperity." Adapting this to the Sumitomo Electric Group, in 2011 we will keep in mind the Sumitomo Spirit, enhance our multifaceted and strategic approach, tackle challenges and objectives with a strong will to accomplish, and move toward the goals of the medium-term management plan "VISION 2012."
Since the kanji of the year?that is, the Chinese character that symbolizes the year? has increasingly been attracting public attention in Japan, I have chosen a year 2011 kanji character for the Sumitomo Electric Group?" (ten)." Its meanings include to "command a broad view," to "be flourished" and to "lay out in a well-aligned manner.
All members at the Sumitomo Electric Group will keep their spirits up, to pursue further business expansion and growth by marketing new products and technologies that conform the expectations of customers and society. I ask your continued support for this year.