Sojitz Corporation

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Reports from Overseas Trainees
Shono Kimura

<Department>Metal Products Office
<Assignment Location>Sojitz Europe plc, Dusseldorf Branch
<Assignment Period>August 2019–April 2020

Assignment Location and Work Duties

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On a business trip to Sweden

At Sojitz Europe’s Dusseldorf Branch, I was involved in European expansion and new project development of the 3D metal printer business. Europe’s public transportation network is very well established, and I have fond memories of my business trips to various countries across the region. Winter in countries north of Germany and Poland, however, was colder than I could have imagined, and mornings in Sweden in the middle of winter certainly were tough for me to weather.

【3D Printing Consortium’s Yearly Conference】
Our company is a member of a 3D printing consortium centered around the German national railway system,  and we attended their yearly conference. At conferences and expos like this one, I developed skills that enabled me to make new connections, expand my personal network, and gain a better sense of the industry’s structure and key players.

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A yearly conference of 3D printing Consortium

【Ellen MacArthur Foundation: At the Forefront of Environmental Advancement】
I took part in a training course offered by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, an organization that advocates for the transition from a linear economy—in which products are mass-produced, consumed, then disposed of—to a circular economy, in which we produce only as much as is needed, and those products are then repaired, reused, and recycled. While the course was held online, it provided me with a glimpse into the European ideas and ways of thinking that have motivated new environmental laws and regulations in recent years.

Local Culture

Germany is an industrial country with a focus on automobile manufacturing. When looking at general indexes like population, land area, and GDP, Germany is quite similar to Japan in comparison to other European countries. Dusseldorf is also known as one of the most prominent “Japantowns” in Europe. Germans are diligent workers who like to document everything, and they tend to take rules very seriously. Despite there being no ticket gates at train stations, people still purchase their tickets completely voluntarily. This strong sense of civic virtue was surprising for me.

Challenges, Lessons Learned, and Skills for the Future

Having to dive into new situations and build connections in a field where I had no network or industry knowledge was particularly challenging for me. However, the fact that I was able to learn methods for considering new business and initial marketing strategies is one of my greatest accomplishments. The many opportunities I had to cooperate with startups also inspired me and gave me new perspectives on the industry, and I hope to apply everything I learned to my work in the future.

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Cologne Cathedral

Recommended Sight-seeing in Germany

Although Dusseldorf is one of Germany’s economic and artistic centers, it is a relatively small city and can basically be seen in a day. I think adding a short trip to the neighboring city of Cologne to see the Cologne Cathedral is the best option. As you exit the train station, standing right before your eyes is the awe-inspiring Cologne Cathedral, a World Heritage Site. It is an incredible sight to behold. The cathedral and nearby Hohenzollern Bridge are lit up at night, and after taking in the lights, I recommend enjoying a German sausage along with some “Cologne water,” otherwise known as beer.

December 2020

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