President’s New Year’s Address for 2020
Jan. 6, 2020
Happy New Year, everyone.
I hope you were all able to rest and relax over this year’s 9-day holiday and begin this New Year with renewed energy.
Over the course of this last year, I carved out as much time as possible to pay on-site visits to our businesses both in Japan and overseas, where I had the opportunity to speak directly with staff working on the ground. While I flew frequently over the year to maximize these on-site visits, I was able to spend a quiet year-end holiday with my family and was grateful to ring in a happy, healthy New Year.
Today marks the start of the 2020 (2nd year of Reiwa) work year.
I look forward to working alongside Sojitz Group members in Japan and around the world to make this year an active, fulfilling, and fruitful year for Sojitz Group.
This year, we will conclude the second year of the Medium-term Management Plan and embark on the final year of the Plan.
As you are aware, the global economic situation and harsh business environment have continued to pose challenges since last year. The effects of trade friction between the U.S. and China, which continues to cloud the business environment, and the economic slowdown of China’s economy continue to reverberate around the world. The performance of major industries such as steel production and auto sales also remain in a state of slowdown.
No doubt there will be a harsh business environment in 2020 as well.
What I want to emphasize to all of you is that even within a difficult market or when facing adverse economic conditions, we must be able to overcome these conditions by creating systems through which to increase earnings. We will then be in a position to achieve our target profit for the period of JPY 72 billion for this fiscal year. Even more importantly, we must be sure to fulfill our goal for the final year of the Medium-term Management Plan, our commitment to achieve profit for the period of JPY 75 billion in the next fiscal year.
Just as Japan’s rugby team finished in the Top 8 for the first time in history by demonstrating spectacular teamwork, Sojitz Group must similarly first become “one team” to achieve its goals and progress to the next stage.
There is something I would like to share with everyone at the start of this New Year.
This is the year of the “Yang Metal Rat.”
Of the 10 stems, “yang” is the year of making preparations for a new environment. In order to do so, we must examine how we have done things so far and our past operations to determine what systems to keep. In terms of the 12 branches, “metal rat” symbolizes the sprouting of new seedlings, with growth in multiple directions.
Once the current Medium-term Management Plan is completed, in order to attain the next target of JPY 100 billion profit for the period, we cannot continue in the same vein. In other words, we will never be able to ascend to a higher stage if we simply continue to build on the status quo using our past approach.
Take this time as an opportunity to review existing businesses and work processes to identify what should be maintained as well as what improvements can be made going forward. It is not productive to aimlessly continue on the same course. Are there any areas in which you may have unconsciously given up or have been fearful of change? What will it take to elevate Sojitz to the next level? It is important that we consider the answer to this question without being constrained by traditional thinking or practices.
I’ve reiterated three important themes: 1) stronger on-site capabilities or genba-ryoku, 2) speed, and 3) innovation. Whatever your role, please make an effort to understand global trends and the where the company stands to determine what we can and should do, as well as what practices or businesses should no longer be continued. Do not be afraid of new initiatives or changes, but rather I encourage you to create new value while maintaining a sense of speed.
I would like each and every one of you to take the New Year as an opportunity to think carefully about these questions and to hold discussions within each of your respective organizations.
I look forward to the ideas, lively discussions, and proposals that will be generated.
Let us create a company that we can take pride in by remembering not to be content with the existing state of affairs and to energetically pursue growth while remaining aware of risks.
Finally, I expect all of you to take the allotted 5 days of summer vacation and 12 days of paid leave. Recently, all general managers also signed the “Sojitz Commitment to IkuBoss,” and I encourage all male employees to take childcare leave without apology. At home, deepen mutual understanding and strengthen your family bonds to expand your perspective.
To conclude, for the New Year I would like to pray for the good health of all Sojitz Group members and the families that support them, in Japan and around the world.