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President's Speech for 2011 Employee Induction Ceremony

Apr. 1, 2011


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Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome all of you to Mitsui. My name is Masami Iijima, President of Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

Before the ceremony, I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest condolences to all who have suffered from the Great Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake, which struck on March 11, and to share my profound grief over the loss of many people who perished in the heartbreaking devastation. I would also like to convey my respect and gratitude for the people who are putting every effort to resolve the various issues, such as those undertaking relief activities at the disaster areas and those dealing with the power plant accident.

Japan has never experienced damage on the scale inflicted by this earthquake and tsunami in the postwar period. In addition to its effect on the lives of so many people, this disaster will also make a major impact on the entire Japanese economy for an extended period of time. Three weeks have passed since the earthquake, yet people in many communities still face continuing uncertainty about supplies of electric power, food, water and other essential items. Mitsui is helping those affected by the disaster to resume their normal lives as rapidly as possible by offering donations, and by providing essential supplies and manpower to support recovery efforts in the disaster areas. Furthermore, I can observe that individuals have started to offer assistance in their own ways, after deep reflections as to what we can do, not only as a company but as Mitsui employees.

This disaster has taught us that in this environment of globalized, borderless economies, mutual cooperation and support among various countries and regions are essential when working to recover from difficult situations. This incident has further strengthened my awareness of Mitsui's responsibility to contribute both to Japan's progress along the path to recovery, and also to increased prosperity in the global community, which is supporting Japan's own recovery.

In many parts of Japan, especially in the eastern region, we have witnessed tragic scenes with no precedence in our history. I believe it is now more important than ever for you to set your mind-set at the starting point of your careers.

Last year, Japan's presence in the world seemed to wane rapidly amid the rapid advances made by Asian economies including China. This disastrous earthquake is a bitter blow at a time when Japan is already starting to lose its vitality as a nation.

Modern Japan was built through the unyielding spirits, industriousness and tireless efforts of countless people during the postwar recovery period and the subsequent era of high economic growth.

In the 65 years since the end of World War II, we have achieved economic prosperity and living standards have risen dramatically. In the hearts of the Japanese people, prosperity seems to have engendered a strong desire for stability and an increasing tendency to look inwards, while at the same time weakening our competitive spirits.

But we should not stop here and should continue to move forward. Surely this time of unprecedented national crisis is also the time when we need to recall the spirits of those who brought about Japan's miraculous postwar revival, and to remember their unshakeable faith in Japan's ability to recover. What kind of presence should Japan build in the world in this era of accelerated globalization? What role should Mitsui and its global business activities play in that process? I believe that we have reached an important turning point where we all need to think deeply with a healthy sense of crisis and turn our thoughts into action.

In that sense, I want you all to take the following message to heart.

That message is that from this day, from this time onwards, you should each strive relentlessly to improve yourselves, and that your approach to work should be guided at all times by high aspirations.

Today you take your first steps in the real world as Mitsui persons. Your future lives will be very different from your lives as students, and you will take on the responsibilities of full-fledged members of the society. Each of you now has a mission to contribute your efforts to the realization of a better society. To fulfill that mission, you must work tirelessly to improve yourselves, and you must devote yourselves, heart and soul, with high aspirations to the task of building a better society.

People gain a variety of skills and knowledge through their day-to-day work. From failures and setbacks, they also learn about human pain and humility. When people trust you to carry out tasks, your sense of responsibility becomes stronger, and you begin to develop aspirations. A broad knowledge enhances your breadth as a person. By interacting with people from various countries and regions, we develop a broad perspective and open-mindedness, which leads us for better understanding of other cultures and values. With this in mind, I would like you to remember to look at every experience positively. I would also like to urge you to keep a good balance between professional acumen, which you will develop from practical knowledge and experience, and lofty aspirations based a sense of ethics and a moral framework.

Throughout its long history, Mitsui has fulfilled its responsibility to contribute to the world by making valued people. I do not define "valued" solely in terms of talent and work skills. Valued people have attractive human qualities and are recognized by society as having well-rounded personalities. They are people with high aspirations that drive them to contribute to society. Those people embody the spirits of Mr. Takashi Masuda, the founder of the former Mitsui & Co., who has left us the immortal message, "Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. For enduring prosperity, harbor grand aspirations."

We have wonderful ideals that have been handed down to us since the founding of Mitsui: "Mitsui is People", "Challenge and Innovation", and "Open-mindedness." "Yoi-Shigoto" is the embodiment of all three of these ideals. We want you all to contribute to the creation of a stronger Mitsui, a Mitsui that is distinctive and respected through the steady accumulation of Yoi-Shigoto. Work with high aspirations and with the same determination as those of earlier generations. Work with all your might to raise Japan's presence in the world and contribute to the rebuilding of our nation. With Mitsui, you can do these things.

I will remind you that on each day of your career with Mitsui you must work relentlessly to improve yourselves. We will provide you opportunities for self-improvement and self-realization. Take full advantage of working for such company and go forward to achieve success in this vast arena with high aspirations and a determination to do your utmost to contribute to the prosperity of Japan and of the world.

I wish you challenging but happy lives in Mitsui with your sound bodies and souls. Congratulations to you all.