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President's Speech for 2010 Employee Induction Ceremony

Apr. 1, 2010


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The following speech was addressed to the new employee by President Masami Iijima.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Congratulations on joining Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
My name is Masami Iijima, and I am president of this company.

As someone who has spent the greater part of his life with this company, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to greet you today as you take your first steps as full-fledged members of the business community.

You are embarking on your careers at a time of major change. As you are with no doubt aware, the 2008 Lehmann shock triggered a credit crunch, a slump in demand and a decline in business earnings on an unprecedented scale. While there are still many sources of uncertainty, the overall situation seems to be moving toward a gradual recovery driven by the emerging benefits of economic stimulus measures implemented by governments around the world. However, I do not expect to see a traditional cyclical recovery, where things will go back to normal as the economy recovers. Instead, we are likely to see a recovery based on a structural transition powered by new industries, new regions and new companies.

What will we expect of you as new employees joining Mitsui & Co. in this period of change? I know that the tension that you are feeling during this ceremony might make it difficult for you to retain everything that I might be inclined to say to you, so I will speak about only two points.

First, we want you to be people who can think for yourselves. When I speak to young people today, I feel that they expect to find the right answer to every question straight away. As a student, it may have been natural for you to search the internet or ask your professors or colleagues for answers when you encountered something you didn't know or understand.

In the real world, in the world of business, there are no "right" or "wrong" answers. Your supervisors and experienced coworkers may provide you with good examples to follow, but they cannot necessarily give you the "right answers." Similarly, senior management can plot the company's course in broad terms and offer visions for the future, but they cannot make decisions about specific frontline matters or create strategies for each workplace. It is the task of individual employees to think and decide these matters for their own.

You are launching your careers in a time of change, and the past successes of Mitsui & Co. may not necessarily provide lessons that you can rely upon in the future. We want you to become people who respect the company's past experiences, but do not rely on it blindly, and can calmly analyze information about our changing environment. Unlike the sample questions you see in textbooks, you will face situations where you do not have all the given information that you need in order to solve certain issues. We want you develop the capacity to think deeply, exhaustively and for yourselves about what you should do, and how you can make things better, so that you can discover the best answer under such circumstances and act accordingly.

Second, we want you to be people who have a balanced mix of skills and personal qualities. Your work requires not only knowledge about specific industries or products, but the ethical perspectives and a commitment to further improvement play a truly important part. You will work in teams, and not individually. In order to maximize your abilities at Mitsui & Co. where a vast global arena awaits you, it is required of you to understand, gain mutual trust, and cooperate with people inside and outside the company, and orchestrate them to concentrate their efforts towards one common goal. In other words, you are expected to become an attractive and distinctive person, which requires each one of you to be sincere, maintain a sense of gratitude, look at yourself with humility, and make continuous efforts for further improvement.

In my New Year message this year, I called on all Mitsui & Co. employees to work with me to build a stronger Mitsui, a Mitsui that is distinctive and respected. In other words, we want to enhance our capacity to meet the requirements of our customers and the needs of the world, a company that contributes to society by creating unique value, and a company that can firmly generate income.

Bill Gates introduced the concept of "creative capital" at the 2008 Davos meeting. He said that the purpose of business activities is not only to produce profit, but also to earn recognition by creating social value. This philosophy, this theme, is precisely reflected in my call to build "a stronger," "a distinctive and respected" Mitsui. It was also expressed in the words of our founder, Takashi Masuda, who said, "Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. For enduring prosperity, harbor grand aspirations." Those words have remained part of a heritage that lives on in every Mitsui & Co. employee.

To realize this vision of "a stronger Mitsui," "a distinctive and respected Mitsui," I expect each of you to become a person capable of thinking for yourself and maintaining a balance between skills and personal qualities. With continuous effort, I am sure you will become stronger as an individual, and become distinctive and respected. I am truly happy today to meet the new young members of our organization, who will work with us as key contributors to the realization of our vision.

I will conclude with one last remark.

Today, as you start as freshman to the business world, I believe your minds are filled with high aspirations and brilliant dreams. As you proceed from hereon, I sincerely hope that you will never forget how you feel today, and never give up in realizing your aspirations and dreams.

The company will provide you with opportunities for self-improvement and self-realization. We want you to use thoroughly utilize these opportunities and realize your full potential.

I will conclude by wishing everyone good health in mind and body, and by offering you my best wishes for a long and happy career with us.

Thank you.