Roundtable Discussion

Creating Value at Mitsui
– A Roadmap for Creating Sustainable Futures

“Creating Sustainable Futures” is the theme of Medium-term Management Plan 2026, which forms the core of Mitsui’s growth strategy. In this session, Mitsui’s President and CEO, Kenichi Hori, and three external directors discussed the strategies and initiatives behind it.

Achieving our Medium-term Management Plan 2026 Targets: Initiatives and Expectations

Business portfolio optimization and enhancement of base profit

  • Onda:Under Medium-term Management Plan 2023 (MTMP2023) which covered the three years ended March 2023, Mitsui achieved significant growth both in profit and Core Operating Cash Flow. What are your thoughts about our future business portfolio strategies and the sustained enhancement of base profit toward the realization of Medium-term Management Plan 2026(MTMP2026)?
  • Hori:We need to launch new businesses in the areas of the three Key Strategic Initiatives, areas that we have knowledge in and are familiar with, and have these businesses contribute to earnings. We will also seek to flexibly capture any upside brought about by changes in the operating environment, and will enhance our functions and reinforce our downside resilience in order to secure competitiveness. Through these approaches, we will realize added value unique to Mitsui and further enhance our base profit.
  • Onda:As external directors responsible for overseeing management, how would you assess the progress of portfolio reconfiguration and the enhancement of base profit? What are your expectations for MTMP2026?
  • Egawa:Mitsui has traditionally been seen as a strong player in the resources and energy sectors, but recently it has accelerated the diversification of its portfolio, as evidenced by major investments in areas such as food services and functional materials.
    Under MTMP2023, Mitsui actively reconfigured its portfolio through an extensive review process based on ROIC and strengthened its downside resilience through cost reductions and other measures. The company has also fully tapped into its trading function to ensure stable supply. We can see that these and other strategies have effectively raised the level of its profitability, which is very reassuring.
    Under MTMP2026, I hope that Mitsui will prioritize businesses along with the three Key Strategic Initiatives where the company is competitive and can expect growth. I also expect progress in the human resources strategy.
  • Uchiyamada:Continual review of the portfolio is vital for keeping the businesses sustainable. Mitsui’s Portfolio Management Committee deliberates extensively on portfolio strategies and their future, while also involving the business frontlines. These discussions lead to the decisions on portfolio reconfiguration, the strengthening of existing businesses, as well as other measures. First of all, base profit forms the foundation for these initiatives, and it is precisely because of Mitsui’s ability to generate strong base profit that it can respond quickly to changes in the social environment and decisively reconfigure its portfolio, based on exhaustive internal discussions and measurement of the risk it can take.
    Under MTMP2026, I expect to see continual reconfiguration of its business portfolio and further strengthening of its base profit to support this process. On the other hand, I encourage management to periodically review the key indicators used to reconfigure the business portfolio, in response to environmental changes.

Promotion of globally diverse individuals

  • Onda:One of the Corporate Strategies under MTMP2026 is the promotion of globally diverse individuals. What are your expectations in terms of recruitment, development, and enhancement of human resources, and what issues do you see?
  • Walsh: Mitsui’s people are our greatest asset and greatest strength. I am confident that Mitsui will be able to further reinforce its strength by drawing on diversity.
    From a diversity perspective, I believe that the company needs to focus more on global recruitment. I was very pleased when two new non-Japanese members were appointed to the Board in June 2023. That will bring a global and international focus to our Board and how the company operates. We also needed to increase the number of women on the Board. We now have four female Non-Executive Directors of the Board. Clearly, there are a lot of very capable women within the company, and we have to develop them more actively and provide opportunities for their advancement to more senior roles within the company.
    Diversity brings different views. It provides new ways of thinking and new business opportunities. As we work to cope with the issues of the 21st century, it is vital to secure the diversity of organizations.
  • Egawa:Being true to the “Mitsui is people” ethos, Mitsui has actively been working on recruiting, developing, and enhancing its human resources. My impression is that each of Mitsui’s employees is unique, and they are all very motivated. However, I agree with Mr. Walsh in that there still is room for improvement in terms of diversity. It should be noted that Mitsui stepped up its mid-career hiring levels in 2012, relatively early in comparison with other major Japanese companies. I hope that the company will continue this approach.
    I also hope that Mitsui will provide more opportunities for the employees hired overseas to thrive professionally, including promotion to executive positions. The Bloom global human resources data platform was put into operation in 2022, and I believe this is an important step toward integrated human resources data management.
    On the subject of career advancement for women, I was truly pleased to hear of your promotion, Ms. Onda, to the position of Managing Officer. I strongly expect that Mitsui will achieve its target of women making up 10% of managers in the Head Office by 2025. I have been closely following the female manager development program “Women Leadership Initiative”, in which external directors including myself also participate. I have been extremely impressed by the ability and motivation of Mitsui’s female employees and reaffirmed the strong commitment of the management team to career advancement for women.

Creating Sustainable Futures

Providing real solutions to Social Issues through Business

  • Onda:The theme for MTMP2026 is “Creating Sustainable Futures”. What are Mitsui’s goals in relation to this concept?
  • Hori:We are determined to pursue both profitability and contribution to the creation of a sustainable society through the functions we provide and our role in society. In our efforts toward the realization of a decarbonized society for example, we are introducing new technologies and providing cross-industry real solutions playing a vital role in the global energy transition. In the wellness sector, we are leveraging the power of big data and creating services based on scientific evidence, providing added value in the preventive medicine and nutrition domains. In developing our business, we will take a holistic view of the entire value chain that includes the food and agriculture sectors, with a particular focus on harmonization with the Earth’s finite natural capital. Further, drawing on our global and crossindustry networks, we work to create businesses with a meaningful role across supply chains and industries. We also want to contribute to the stable supply of scarce materials, which is a pressing issue for our planet. These are all sizeable issues for our society, but I am confident that Mitsui is committed to finding resolutions to these issues.
  • Onda:How do you view Mitsui’s current role in “Creating Sustainable Futures”, and what are your expectations toward its future role?
  • Uchiyamada:There are some social issues that are extremely difficult to solve and will require quite some time. There are also issues that have solutions to them, but those solutions aren’t profitable in the near term. However, Mitsui has undertaken many projects that have led to the easing or solving of such social issues, and it has developed and transformed them into actual business models. I believe that, with these capabilities to make proposals and problem-solving expertise, Mitsui can continuously make a contribution to the solution for a variety of social issues through business.
  • Egawa:In the past three years since I joined the board, the company’s sustainability initiatives have accelerated. I really felt the strong commitment to solving social issues since “Creating Sustainable Futures” was chosen as the theme for MTMP2026. During my visit to a company-owned forest in Hokkaido, I was impressed by Mitsui’s efforts to promote business initiatives to utilize forest resources while conserving the natural environment through biodiversity protection activities and preserving the traditional culture. I have been very encouraged to see that Mitsui does not simply own forests for their environmental value but is also working to link them to the development of actual businesses. Examples include the generation of J-Credits with its company-owned forests, and the establishment of a forest carbon credit fund business through the Australian company New Forests. I hope that Mitsui will help to raise the level of sustainability activities in Japan by further advancing our unique approach of providing real solutions to various social issues through our business.

Pursuing both Sustainability and Profitability

  • Onda:One of the goals for MTMP2026 is the “fusion of business and sustainability”. What issues do you see, and what are your expectations in relation to this goal. Specifically, how do you think Mitsui can pursue both sustainability and profitability at the same time?
  • Walsh: While sustainability poses major challenges, they are also opportunities for Mitsui to contribute to the world through our business. For example, the company will contribute to the world’s decarbonization by investing in hydrogen, ammonia, and rare minerals, and by engaging in business that contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
    As a director, I am very encouraged by the progress that Mitsui is making with its sustainability initiatives. I believe that by working earnestly toward the achievement of its sustainability goals, we will deliver added value to our shareholders and communities, and Mitsui will naturally be able to attract talented people as well as investors.
  • Uchiyamada:I think that the achievement of both sustainability and profitability requires a three-way approach that also encompasses business portfolio. That’s because the best way to combine business with sustainability is through the pursuit of balance, in which business itself, sustainability, and the portfolio, affect one another in a positive cycle. At Mitsui, solving social issues lies at the heart of its values, which has naturally led to achieving both sustainability and profitability in the past. I hope that Mitsui will continue to promote business guided by these values and reinforce the sustainability of its existence as a company that contributes to people and society over the long term.
  • Hori:With the support of our external directors, our company will pursue both sustainability initiatives and profitability. To that end, I believe it is important to focus on our existing businesses, but at the same time for us to work on developing and adding new functions for us to offer. While providing value through the configuration of our business portfolio, if we identify certain functions we are lacking, we will act swiftly to secure them. Through these approaches, the whole Mitsui is determined to work as one toward realizing its “Creating Sustainable Futures” theme.

Further Enhancing Corporate Value

  • Onda:What are your expectations toward further enhancement of Mitsui’s corporate value?
  • Walsh: Innovation is vital, both for capturing growth opportunities and also for continually improving our business. It is difficult to predict what the business landscape is going to look like in the future, but we will need to be agile and flexible in adapting to operating environment changes and turning them into opportunities. Advanced technology will help us in various ways, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, while digital transformation and artificial intelligence will transform our conventional ways of managing business. In the healthcare field, for example, I anticipate major changes and advancement in treatment and preventive medicine, while in agriculture there’s potential for dramatic improvements in output and quality.
    I expect Mitsui to reinvent its business through the use of advanced technology, and through innovation and research. I don’t know what the business environment will be like in 10 years’ time, but I’m confident that Mitsui will be using innovation to play a pivotal role in finding solutions to social issues and adding business value.
  • Egawa:Mitsui’s competitiveness is built on the network, trust, brand, and human resources it has accumulated through its diverse business activities, and on its flexibility in reconfiguring its portfolio in response to changes in the business environment. Another advantage for Mitsui in the increasingly fierce competition across industry barriers is its ability to gather information from wide-ranging sources in various industries on a global basis. I hope that it will leverage these advantages to drive its continuing evolution in response to changes in the environment.
    In addition, Mitsui has been proactive in returning profits to shareholders while expanding cash flow and enhancing corporate value. I hope that we will continue to focus on both corporate value enhancement and shareholder returns.
  • Uchiyamada:To achieve further enhancement of its corporate value, Mitsui needs to become a company that is essential to society. Mitsui is engaged in a wide variety of activities that are directly linked to society, including energy, resources, food, healthcare, and forestry. I believe that it can further enhance its corporate value by continuing to work toward the solution of social issues through these business activities. In doing so, the company will need to accelerate its various initiatives, invest in the technological innovations required to achieve that, and also invest in human resources to support those endeavors.
  • Hori:Thank you very much for your time today. I am grateful for all your valuable inputs and encouraging comments. I sincerely believe the foundation for securing Mitsui’s long-term sustainability and for becoming a company that is valued by society is our people. If each employee feeds off one another’s ability to be independent thinkers with high aspirations, and teams can be formed that can step beyond their own division’s area of responsibility and operate across industries, I believe Mitsui will be able to accomplish something big and make a real difference in the world. The “diversity” generated from people with different areas of expertise and a variety of backgrounds, and “inclusion” that can facilitate such diverse individuals to come together as a united team, are going to be very important.
    The biggest role as CEO, I believe, is to fully make use of the management resources, take on social issues head-on, and make sure that we continue to have teams in place that are capable of achieving both sustainability and profitability at a high level. That is how we provide solutions to social issues and value to society. Through this, we will be able to work on even more significant projects with our partners, continue to provide return on capital to our shareholders, which will lead to stakeholders highly valuing Mitsui as a company. I believe this will lead to our long-term value creation.