Sojitz Corporation


2019 Entrance Ceremony for New Employees – President’s Address

Apr. 1, 2019
Sojitz Corporation


Congratulations, everyone. My name is Masayoshi Fujimoto, and I am President & CEO of Sojitz Corporation.

With the cherry blossoms in full bloom today, I am overjoyed to welcome our 123 new colleagues—97 from the management track and 26 administrative staff.

This is not only the unforgettable day on which you will gain new lifelong friends—those joining the company alongside you; this is also the day that Japan announces the name of the new era that will start when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the imperial throne in May.*

At this momentous crossroads, on behalf of all Sojitz Group members, I warmly welcome you to our company.

<Sojitz’s Evolution—Changing Roles and Expectations>

You are all members of this organization—nay, colleagues—as of today. As you start your careers at our company and watch the Heisei Era (1989 – 2019) end, I would like to explain a bit about the path our company has walked, talk about the lessons learned, and share my expectations for you all.

The many companies to which Sojitz traces its roots—Suzuki & Co., Iwai & Co., and Japan Cotton Trading Company—all started around Kobe and Osaka around 150 years ago. They began by importing sugar, cotton, steel, coal, and lumber, and many years later, would bring massive products such as ships and airplanes to Japan. Their trading business sent Japanese goods abroad, as well. They led Japan’s industrial revolution in the Meiji (1868 – 1912) and Taisho Eras (1912 – 1926) by introducing many cutting-edge technologies to Japan and establishing a number of companies which continue to this day, including Kobe Steel, Teijin, Sapporo Beer, and Showa Shell Sekiyu.

These companies would go on to establish the technological dominance of the Japanese market and usher in an age of Japanese exports. And who was it that would handle the sales of these Japanese products abroad? It was our forebears and the other Japanese trading companies.

Looking back, I joined the company at the tail end of this era. My first job was exporting auto parts made with cast metal, pressed steel, and other steel derivatives.

At the time, the market was already starting to question what role trading companies were meant to play. People were calling it “the winter of the trading companies,” and it truly was. The high Japanese yen following the Plaza Accord in 1985 saw many Japanese exports lose their cost competitiveness, leading Japanese companies to move their production to the U.S. and other locations abroad.

It was at this point that trading companies’ function as commodities trader started to wane in importance. They have been shifting away from trading, towards business investment and management, ever since.

General trading companies have continued to grow in this way, evolving their functions to adapt to advancements and changes in Japan’s industrial structure.

In other words, the functions which the market demands of Sojitz—that is, the ways in which we can work for the sake of the market—are always changing in accordance with progress and the world we live in.

And that’s why Sojitz has continued to transform itself in response to these changes.

For our company to continue to develop, the people who work here need to be constantly adapting and changing themselves as well.

That leads me to my request for you 123 joining the company today.

We need to hone our sensibilities, to think through to the heart of what the market needs and foresee how people, goods, and money will move and what will happen to their value. (INNOVATION)

The speed of change is such that we cannot afford to stay passive. We must work proactively to respond to changes quickly. (SPEED)

The worst you could do is to be the kind of person whose complacency makes you unwilling to disrupt the status quo. Changing the status quo means taking on new challenges each day. Try to keep this challenge-focused mentality in mind. (CHALLENGE)

At the same time, it can be difficult to accept some changes, and we will need the strength to see things through to the end. (PERSEVERENCE)

The most important thing is to earn the trust of the people around you. As a Sojitz employee, most of the work you will be responsible for is work that you simply cannot complete alone. You will experience a real sense of achievement and worth when you complete your first big project, having won the understanding and cooperation of your colleagues. I want you to funnel your passion into your work regardless of where you are assigned, as well as meet people with integrity, in order to earn their trust. In this way, you will learn a lot and develop a solid foundation for growth as a Sojitz person. (TRUST)

Together, these five points I just mentioned represent the Sojitz Guiding Principles.

Experts say that we have entered an age of “digital transformation,” and they predict massive changes for the world going forward. Let’s bravely face the changes of the coming age and bring our company into the next by embodying the spirit of the five Guiding Principles.

<In Conclusion>
Your comrades gathered here will surely become irreplaceable allies. Do not take them for granted. While your position surely differs from that of your bosses or the underclassmen from university who may join the company a year from now, your friends gathered here know what it’s like to be in your shoes. Do not forget your allies here, who will fight alongside you in earnest pursuit of their goals.

Another piece of advice—Always meet others with integrity. “The Sojitz Group creates value and prosperity by connecting the world with a spirit of integrity.” That’s the Sojitz Group Statement, after all.

Let us create the future of Sojitz together.
Congratulations again on joining the company.

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