Although this is rather an old story, when I was asked at a media interview at the beginning of 2013 about the kanji character representing this year’s Sumitomo Electric, I replied “jin,” meaning “compassion” in English.
Currently, our group is large enough to comprise approximately 450 companies established around the world, with a total number of employees reaching more than 200,000 of a wide variety of nationalities. I feel that we have so far been a liberal and broad-minded organization with an open atmosphere. As an organization grows larger, however, it is unavoidable for the organization to face the risk of the so-called “big company disease.” In a large organization, since it is difficult to ensure face-to-face contact, and communication tends to become bureaucratic, an uncomfortable atmosphere and an ostrich mentality tend to spread, the quintessential big company disease. Countermeasures against this disease are to improve communication, including informal communication, both vertically and horizontally, as well as to ensure that each employee demonstrates compassion to other people when engaged in his/her job. This is why I selected “compassion” as the kanji character representing this year’s Sumitomo Electric.
Although the volume of media coverage has significantly decreased, I hear that school backpacks are being donated around Japan this year again by some people using the name “Naoto Date,” the main character of a popular Japanese animation. Additionally, the total amount of the donation for those affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake collected through the Japanese Red Cross Society and other organizations exceeded 364 billion yen as of the end of January 2013. Although it has already been the second anniversary of the disaster, a considerable amount of money is still being donated. I’m relieved to find that the spirit of compassion is continuously being demonstrated.
It takes some ingenuity to prevent these movements from ending up merely as a temporary fad, as well as to expand the network of aid and provide continuous support. Although it is important to establish a framework to collect support, I think that it would be ideal if many more persons sympathized with the necessity of support and each of them were voluntarily engaged in support activities.
I feel that “one who does good that none will see will be rewarded in a way for all to see” is a good saying representing the typical Japanese mentality. In this age of too much information, however, it is sometimes necessary to make your good conduct clear to the world to some extent, and to obtain feedback on your conduct, such as how the conduct has contributed to society. I think that here again, communication between those concerned is essential.