The following "New Year Message 2010" was addressed to all officers and employees by President Masami Iijima.
Season's greetings to everyone
Today, at the beginning of the new year, I would like to reflect upon the events of the past twelve months and also look ahead to our aspirations for the future.
Better outlook after a tough year
As we all know very well, the business environment in 2009 was very tough. The financial crisis stemming from the collapse of Lehman Brothers spread globally, and a global credit crunch was followed by falling asset prices and shrinking demand. This caused production and job cuts across a wide range of industrial sectors. This generated a downturn in consumer spending and a severe decline in corporate earnings across all regions and industrial sectors.
In response, Governments of many countries enacted a range of large-scale economic stimulus measures, and the corporate sector carried out substantial cost reduction programs. While the combined effect of these initiatives did bring a certain degree of stability to the global economy after the sudden collapse of 2008, recovery has not been linear and we continue to see significant differences between regions and industries.
The economic outlook remains unclear, and there are considerable causes for concern - including a worsening employment situation in developed countries, further potential financial instability in Europe and the Middle East, rapid weakening of the dollar and strengthening of the yen, and the re-emergence of deflationary fears in Japan.
Nonetheless, our expectation for the year ahead is that the global economy will follow a gradual recovery trend. It is supported in part by the ongoing effect of government economic stimulation measures around the world, and the underlying vitality and growth of emerging economies such as China. However, we are unlikely to see demand return to normal, as part of the economic cycle, in the automobile, housing and other sectors that have suffered such dramatic downturns. Instead, we envisage a recovery driven by growth in new businesses, industries and regions amid a structural change in the world economy.
As we begin the new year, I ask you all to join me in focusing on two particular aspirations for our company: - a stronger Mitsui and a more distinctive and respected Mitsui. In promoting these aspirations, I am cautiously optimistic that, despite the difficult economic conditions facing us, we have every opportunity to create a Mitsui of the future that surpasses that of the past.
Building a Stronger Mitsui.
I believe that a stronger Mitsui will be one that continually stretches to meet the evolving needs of customers and business partners, and that generates sustainable income streams through the ongoing pursuit of Yoi-Shigoto. I want every employee to reconsider what it means to be part of a company that has such an engrained culture of being driven by a spirit of "Challenge and Innovation", as we work with unity and commitment to create successful new business models with high added value.
To be a strong company, we need a robust earnings base and sound leadership across multiple industries and business domains. We must evolve continuously and also be able to respond rapidly and flexibly to changes in the business environment. Strategic portfolio management will again be an important focus this year, in terms of our business, investments and human resources.
In 2010 we will start formulating a new medium-term management plan. In each of our business sectors, I ask for your keen involvement in formulating this new plan, and hope that in doing so we can retain a strong sense of mission and urgency. We have the task of creating a new future for our company, and I am committed to working alongside all of you to first develop and then achieve important new goals.
Becoming more distinctive and respected
Since becoming president, I have repeatedly emphasized that our human resources are the greatest assets of Mitsui and the prime source of our growth as an organization. As we move forward into the new year, I would again like to emphasize the significance of our people as a wellspring of potential. For those who are determined to expand their capabilities through self-development, Mitsui offers many opportunities to pursue new challenges. To fully reflect the widely recognized concept that "Mitsui is people", and for us to become more respected as a company, we must each strive for excellence in our day-to-day activities.
As our growth opportunities expand globally, we also need to cultivate our human resources from a broader perspective. We are committed to globalizing our human resources, and I intend to develop further measures that will support the growth of Mitsui's people worldwide.
I have a special message to those of you in leadership positions. Please strive to communicate openly with your colleagues. Aim to exemplify our business culture and become a source of both inspiration and aspiration. Through fostering a culture that supports the free exchange of ideas and open mindedness, we can make Mitsui & Co. an even more appealing company and a better organization to be part of.
Health and happiness
Finally, I would like to offer my best wishes to each of you and your families for good health, success and happiness in 2010. There is certainly much to look forward to.
President and Chief Executive Officer