The following "New Year Message 2013" was addressed to all officers and employees by President Masami Iijima.
At the beginning of this New Year, I wish to offer my greetings to all the members of Mitsui.
THE BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
The year just ended was very challenging, with the European fiscal crisis and slow growth in China and other emerging markets casting a shadow on the global economy.
Despite these challenges, population growth is driving a clear long-term trend of economic development and increasing affluence. At the same time, this development means that there are energy, water and food resource issues that need to be addressed, along with infrastructure, health and education issues, particularly in developing nations. All of these need industrial solutions, and bring opportunities for Mitsui.
AGILITY AND ACCELERATION
If we are going to make best use of these opportunities, I believe the most important thing is to think carefully, using our imagination to assess all the options. We also need to be agile and fast-moving in our decision-making and actions.
In last year's message, I talked about staying closely attuned to the changing business environment and pursuing dynamic evolution.
In times of severe and rapid change, it is impossible to grow as a person or as a company if you are living in the comfortable and successful past. In these changing times, it is risky for our business if we do not change, and risky if we change too slowly. We have to be fast and agile, like a professional soccer player.
This is my main message: the need for agility and progress so that we can meet the fast-changing needs of today's customers in today's world.
THE SAMURAI SPIRIT AND BUSINESS ACUMEN
Although it may seem as if everything is changing, there are some things that we must be careful not to change. First among these is our fundamental approach of taking on challenges that create value and are good for society.
If we look back more than 100 years to 1876, we see that the former Mitsui & Co. was created to meet the needs of Japan as an emerging nation of trade and commerce. I often quote Takashi Masuda, the first president of the former Mitsui, who said, "Avoid infatuation with immediate advantage. To achieve enduring prosperity, harbor grand aspirations." In other words, "For long-term success, think big and think ahead." These words are just as important today as they were 130 years ago.
You have probably heard Japanese people talking about the "samurai spirit". The concept is founded in confucianism and is based on serving society. Takashi Masuda was from a traditional samurai family, and I think understanding his background helps us understand why he wanted to support the development of society as well as succeed in business.
I believe that Mitsui's combination of business acumen and the samurai spirit is a powerful force for good. That's what we mean when we talk about 'meaningful business for society' or Yoi Shigoto.
USING OUR COMPREHENSIVE BUSINESS ENGINEERING CAPABILITIES
In the past, we were able to grow the whole company by adding up the successes of separate business units. Those days are gone. Projects are now much bigger and much more complex. To succeed and grow we have to offer our customers full services across all our business units.
To give just one example, think about energy projects. Our customers and partners in this area often need us to provide the strength of our entire Group, including areas like chemicals, power generation, and even food and medical services.
This means adopting a different mindset. Instead of thinking only about one particular business, we have to optimize our overall services, sometimes across many different areas. This organic combination of business units is what gives us such comprehensive business engineering capabilities.
Mitsui's management style is based on 'distributed leadership', where different people take the initiative to make important decisions at the business front line. But it's not enough to just put our businesses together as separate players in the same soccer stadium. We have to work as a team, using a game strategy that makes best use of all our players. So please remember that leaders in Mitsui need to be able to form strong relationships and make best use of the collective wisdom of our whole Group.
Turning to the future, we intend to make sure that Mitsui is constantly adapting to meet the needs of modern society by using our comprehensive strengths and progressive business models.
As part of this, we have decided to launch a new organizational structure from April. Our core competitive strength is our ability to respond flexibly as a group to changes in the business environment, and we will continue to closely monitor our position and direction.
More than anything, it is you, the people of Mitsui all around the world, who drive our business development with your business acumen. Business acumen, which I mentioned earlier, is a hard thing to describe. It is a balance of general knowledge, specialist skills, ethics, ambition, humility, hard work, and many other qualities.
I hope that in the year ahead you can use your business acumen to stay closely attuned to the signals coming from the global economy, and continue to move with the speed and agility of a soccer player on a great team. With the spirit of "challenge and innovation" I am sure we can score many goals together while contributing to economic growth and prosperity for societies around the world.
I wish you and your families every happiness in the year ahead.