Speech at the 2012 Induction Ceremony

Apr. 2, 2012

Main Contents

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Congratulations on becoming employees of Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

The Current Situation—Restoring Japan

A year ago, just as we were about to start recruitment interviews for you, Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the resulting tsunami. This disaster claimed many precious lives and has had an incalculable impact on life in this country. People in the disaster areas continue to experience hardship, and there is a need for sustained and collaborative efforts by the Japanese central and the local governments and the private sector.

The past year has been a very eventful time. First, the nuclear accident caused by the earthquake and the resulting electricity shortages have led to a fundamental debate on the direction of Japan's energy policy. At a time when companies, especially manufacturers, are moving their operations offshore at an accelerating pace, the economy has also been affected by supply-chain disruptions caused by the earthquake, as well as increased imports of LNG to replace electricity previously supplied by nuclear power stations. As a result of these and other factors, Japan recorded a trade deficit last year. Urgent action is also needed on other issues that were confronting Japan before the earthquake, including the restoration of fiscal health, measures to offset the effects of a falling birthrate and demographic aging, and regulatory reform. We also need to move forward with the TPP and other economic partnerships.

As we strive to cope with these various changes and problems, I believe that we need to use the post-earthquake recovery process as an opportunity to bring about the regeneration of Japan. Regeneration does not simply mean the restoration of what existed before. The goal is evolution toward a new Japan. We-Mitsui & Co.-are absolutely determined to contribute to this renaissance through our core business activities.

When we look beyond Japan, we discover situations that could trigger a serious crisis at any time, including fiscal and financial instability in Europe and developments surrounding Iran. An additional source of uncertainty about the future outlook is the fact that several major nations will soon elect new leaders.

Another highly significant trend, occurring at a time when the world's population is projected to rise from 7 billion at present to over 9 billion by 2050, is the replacement of the advanced countries by the emerging countries as the growth engines for the world economy. This shift is expected to take the world into a new development stage. While there are many serious problems, especially in the areas of resources and the environment, I am confident that we can overcome these challenges and build a more prosperous future.

Japan needs to synchronize its growth with this dynamic drive toward global expansion and prosperity. There is a vista of opportunities opening up before our eyes. Mitsui & Co. is determined to work from these perspectives to contribute to Japan's revitalization and to global prosperity.

Mitsui & Co.—A Company Working for the People of the World

When Takashi Masuda founded the former Mitsui & Co., Ltd. in 1876, Japan's trade was dominated by the western corporations. Masuda was motivated by a high aspiration. He wanted Japan's trade to be controlled by Japanese and to build Japan into an industrial and trading nation that would rank alongside the Western powers.

Mitsui & Co. has been working to develop trade since the 19th century. Throughout our history we have responded to the world's needs through a variety of business initiatives. In the prewar era, we contributed to the development of light industries, and in the high growth period of the postwar era, we imported raw materials, exported manufactured goods and secured energy resources. We have always responded to the needs of people and society by developing the business and industries needed to meet those needs. Now it is your turn to inherit this Mitsui DNA, which has continued in an unbroken line down to the present day.

The Mitsui DNA is also manifested in our determination to turn the earthquake disaster into an opportunity to contribute to the regeneration of Japan. It is also expressed in our mission, which is to "contribute to the creation of a future where the aspirations of humanity can be fulfilled."

The work that we do for the world and its people focuses on quality. It is the work that provides motivation and fulfillment for each of our employees. We call it Yoi-Shigoto, which means literally "good quality work." Takashi Masuda expressed this commitment to the grand challenge of creating business that would truly benefit society and people and help Japan become an affluent country in the following words: "Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. For enduring prosperity, harbor grand aspirations."

Challenge and Innovation

When we survey the business environment in which we work, we become aware that wide-ranging change is occurring at a pace never experienced before. With changes accelerating and uncertainty rising to an ever higher level, the success patterns of the past are no longer applicable. In my New Year message for 2012, I emphasized that hesitation to change is a path to failure. Only by constantly and flexibly evolving, our business formats can we respond to the diverse and ever-changing needs of the world. Flexibility is the source of our strength.

In times of great uncertainty, we experience the collapse of existing concepts, but we also find increased opportunities to try new and innovative ideas. As you take your first steps into the real world today, I would like to say to you that the thing you should fear most is the failure to accept challenges. If we never accept a challenge, we lose not only the time when we could have been taking up challenges but also opportunities to create something new in a time of change. That path leads eventually to decline and atrophy.

I urge you also to place a high value on curiosity, and on imagination and creativity Curiosity is the power to imagine boldly, which heightens our ability to perceive the needs of the future. Imagination is the power to create new things, which allows us to transform change into opportunity. Creativity gives the power to create new value. This is what we mean by Challenge and Innovation.

"Mitsui is People." As these words suggest, Mitsui & Co. puts enormous effort into the training and development of its people. We will give you opportunities to improve and to fulfill yourselves and your potentials. You will acquire skills and knowledge through your day-to-day activities, and you will learn humility by experiencing failures and setbacks. Your sense of responsibility will be strengthened as you are entrusted with tasks. As you come into contact with people from various countries and regions, you will become more open-minded and tolerant of different cultures and values. We want you to approach every experience with a positive attitude, to work independently and to the best of your ability to deal with issues that confront you, so that you can continually improve yourselves and achieve growth as a person with a healthy balance of spiritual qualities and skills.

Conclusion—Helping to Build a New Japan and New World

Japanese companies are moving increasingly toward globalization. We need to maintain Japan's growth by bringing profits from overseas business back to Japan and using them to develop new domestic industries in such areas as the environment, life science and tourism. I predicted earlier that world population growth would be accompanied by economic expansion and increased prosperity. However, this process will bring with it many challenges, including access to basic resources, such as energy, food and water, the expansion and enhancement of health services, and the remediation of environmental problems. We will move forward with you to take up the challenge of creating business that will meet the diverse needs of Japan and of the world.

Your youthful curiosity will allow you to anticipate change, and your innovative ideas will lead to the creation of new business. We look forward to working with you to drive this company's continual evolution into a stronger Mitsui, a Mitsui that is distinctive and respected. Above all, we are determined to contribute through our work to the achievement of new prosperity for Japan and the world.

I will conclude by offering you all my very best wishes for health and happiness, and for fulfilling careers with Mitsui & Co.

Once again, congratulations.