Sojitz Corporation


2021 Welcoming Statement for New Employees – President’s Address

Apr. 1, 2021
Sojitz Corporation


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

Since the beginning of last year, the Covid-19 global pandemic has wreaked havoc with wide-reaching consequences, including the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I am sure many of you experienced a year like no other with respect to student life, job-hunting, and your time as a new recruit before joining the company.

At Sojitz, we have worked to ensure business continuity while protecting the health of our employees and their families through the continued use of a flexible working system in which employees are encouraged to telework and stagger commute times. We have come together as a company, united in our efforts to surmount the effects of this unprecedented year.

Japan has succeeded in containing the spread of infection relative to other countries thanks to healthcare and other essential workers as well as the efforts of each individual citizen. I am pleased that we are able to hold this entrance ceremony in person today.

<Sojitz’s Changing Roles and Expectations>

As you start your new careers at Sojitz, I would like to explain a bit about the path our company has taken and share my expectations for all of you.

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 handled many essential imports for Japan at the time. As Japan pursued policies for modernization, these companies imported steel-manufacturing technology and artificial silk thread manufacturing processes from overseas to start their own manufacturing businesses in Japan.  A number of these companies continue to this day, including Kobe Steel and Teijin. These trading companies led Japan’s industrial revolution in the Meiji (1868 – 1912) and Taisho Eras (1912 – 1926).

Although Sojitz and other general trading companies were pioneers in the trading industry who handled sales of Japanese products overseas, Japanese companies eventually began to move their production 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 changes in industrial structure.

We must continually adapt to the changing times, yet our mission as a company remains constant: We aim to provide the necessary goods, services, and technologies directly to places where there is a need. In other words, we must frequently assess the true needs of the market and build businesses centered around these needs in order to continue to deliver value to society.

At Sojitz, our vision for 2030 is to address society’s needs and problems as a company that continues to create business and develop capable people.

General trading companies are considered a business model unique to Japan. As a Japanese trading company, we have continued to develop alongside Japan. However, there are many countries around the world with diverse needs that can be met by the functions we offer as a general trading company. I would like Sojitz not simply to be a trading company of Japan, but to be recognized as Vietnam’s Sojitz or India’s Sojitz, creating a group of general trading companies that extend beyond Japan.

Sojitz puts great effort into developing its employees because people are the driving force needed to realize our goals as a company.

Consider the Hassojitz Project as an example, with which I’m sure you are all familiar. Many of you contributed exciting ideas as part of your new recruitment training.

As the world makes the drastic shift toward a decarbonized society, it is quite possible that conventional ways of thinking and business models will become obsolete. We therefore need new ideas that will not be limited by past precedent. Businesses that were previously not entertained due to the high cost barrier could potentially generate large-scale earnings. Let us approach change as an opportunity, demonstrating the flexibility of thought required to take on new market needs.

To better address society’s needs, we announced in March the establishment of “Sojitz Alumni,” a business network made up of Sojitz’s former employees, as well as the creation of a new job-based company* under which employees are able to hold side jobs and businesses. Through these initiatives, we seek to create a work environment in which Sojitz employees can maintain a high level of motivation and experience personal growth.

I hope that all of you will develop into independent employees who do not cling to the company, but rather demonstrate the kind of strong resolve needed to start your own businesses.

As one mentor explained, as Sojitz employees you should strive to move beyond conventional business boundaries in order to pursue innovation. However, you can only break from convention once you’ve mastered the fundamentals. I would therefore like everyone to learn the basic ABCs of business and develop a strong business foundation at Sojitz. Consider Sojitz your home port and go forward to explore the next business frontier. That is my hope for your future.

<In Conclusion>

To conclude: This is an unforgettable day on which you will meet valuable new colleagues and gain lifelong friends in those joining the company alongside you. Take time during your training to deepen your bonds with your new colleagues. Once you are assigned to a department, your mission is to learn as much as you can from all your coworkers.

From today onward you are a Sojitzer— 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.

Let us build Sojitz’s future together.
I am eagerly looking forward to it.

Once again, I would like to congratulate and welcome you to Sojitz.

*Unlike membership-based employment, which is the standard form of employment in Japan, job-based employment hires individuals based on a job description that outlines the specific tasks of the job, salary, and other working conditions. In job-based employment, people are matched to specific positions and recruitment focuses on whether an individual possesses the required skillset for the job. As the individual is expected to perform tasks defined within the scope of the job description, the clear-cut expectations of job-based employment allow employees to achieve greater work-life balance.

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