President’s New Year’s Address for 2017
Jan. 4, 2017
Happy New Year, everyone.
Here we are in 2017. How was everyone’s New Year’s break? I hope that each of us feels ready to make a fresh start as we enter the new year.
Looking back at Japan in 2016, we see events such as…
・ Widespread damage from the Kumamoto earthquake
・ A flurry of gold medals won at the Olympic Games, as well as the passing of the Olympic torch from Rio to Tokyo
・ Japan’s first implementation of negative interest rates
These were all major events which will remain lasting issues for Japan, I believe.
Around the globe as well, 2016 was a truly volatile year with…
・ Britain’s exit from the EU
・ The US presidential election
・ Countless acts of terrorism and general bedlam in the Middle East
In particular, the unexpected results of the Brexit referendum and the U.S. presidential election made waves around the world.
The market is responding favorably to the upcoming economic policies of President-elect Trump, with the current bull market a sign of mounting expectations for economic growth in the United States. The “America First” sentiment which constitutes the core of these policies, however, brings the risk of not only America’s withdrawal from the TPP, but may also lead to a destabilization of the global order which Japan and other countries have heretofore enjoyed. This year will again see several important elections take place in Europe. The rise of the “us vs. them” mentality makes it easy to imagine preservationist policy spreading across the world in the days ahead.
Such notable events—particularly in developed countries—are an indication of the growing pains which globalization has come to more clearly exhibit in a number of ways. Considering this current state of affairs, I believe it is vitally important that we not stand on convention as we continue to closely observe these global trends.
Since the time of Sojitz’s founding, we have always included “development of human resources” as one of the management goals for each Medium-term Management Plan. I’m sure you have all heard before that “a shosha is only as good as its people.” For us, this means that it is our employees who provide the most important support to our business activities and the company’s future. It is our employees who have the power to take their experience and creativity—both latent and learned—and transform these intangible assets into tangible ones, in accordance with the demands of the changing business environment. That’s what it means when we say that “a shosha is only as good as its people.” This goes not only for individuals, but for the organizational level as well.
I’m also sure that you know that this upcoming 2017 fiscal year will be the final year of the current Medium-term Management Plan. I believe that more than anything, it is the asset portfolio you have helped create which stands as a testament to our profit-raising efforts. Let me repeat: these assets are built through the combined efforts of all Sojitz employees. This includes the assets left to us by the many exemplary Sojitz employees who came before and the assets which will be handed down to the Sojitz employees of tomorrow. The results of your work—the work of the business divisions, the risk management, finance, accounting, legal and other functions—begins to take form. Everything from currents assets gained through trading, to long-term assets from investment. It is here that “a shosha is only as good as its people” is most clearly expressed. This year, I want you to make the most of your abilities as individuals and members of your organizations in order to create results.
I want you in the Business Divisions to take a broad view of the markets with which you are involved, think outside the box, expand your horizons, and break new ground. And while it goes without saying, you must also aim to create shared prosperity with our business partners.
For those of you in the Corporate Departments, I want you to utilize your expertise to the utmost, and from a company-wide perspective, actively participate in the creation of an asset portfolio which we can carry with us into the future. Also, remember to continue to place due importance on a project’s timeframe and the speed at which you work.
I hope we can make this final year of the current Medium-term Management Plan one where together, we truly bring the goals of the plan to fruition. At the same time, we are now in an era which demands we pay close attention to the operating environment. My hope is that in achieving the goals of the Medium-term Management Plan, we can realize Sojitz Group’s vision, coming up with a concrete plan together which not only raises earnings capacity, but which takes the value of working at Sojitz into account. This year, 2017, should be the time for us to once again outline our vision for the future of Sojitz Group, to be included in the next Medium-term Management Plan.
I pray for the health and prosperity of all Sojitz Group members throughout 2017.