Message from the President Jan.2007

a monthly magazine for our employee Jan.2007

A Plan for a Lifetime, Not Just a Year

I Best wishes for the New Year! It’s my sincere hope that all employees will enjoy a successful and prosperous 2007.

There’s an old saying that one’s plan for the year should be launched on New Year’s Day, but I’ve come to feel over the years that a lifelong plan has become more important. However, in the same way that study plans made by elementary schools for summer vacation often fall by the wayside, people who live their lives according to their own plan are exceedingly rare. There are many reasons why things don’t work out as we expect. When a plan consists of just individual hopes rather than clearly defined goals, the chances of realizing it fall considerably right from the start. In terms of work as well, when your plan requires more than your individual effort, and where such external factors as your corporate organization, customers and markets stand between you and the plan’s success, often you’ll be unable to achieve the plan through your efforts alone. However, if your goal is to live your life a certain way, or to provide a certain direction to your life, then your chances of success are high, since things depend on the decisions and choices you make. The extent to which this is achievable, of course, depends greatly on the individual.

With the progress of globalization, forecasting the future has become ever more difficult. If we consider cases where social changes occur in just one country, and cases where such changes involve a wide range of global factors, we see that there are overwhelmingly more variables in the latter. Change becomes more complex, and turmoil can ensue. A look back over merely the last five years shows that any number of unexpected events have occurred. In the midst of the “China boom” that followed the collapse of the IT bubble in 2001, for example, came the much-publicized “hollowing out” of the manufacturing industry. According to this theory, the cost structure of the Japanese manufacturing industry made it unable to compete with China’s manufacturing capacity, which was built on a foundation of cheap labor. As a result, Japanese manufacturers were shifting production facilities to China and other areas of Asia, leaving manufacturing in Japan drained. This premise was proclaimed in the media almost daily, fanning the sense of crisis, but it’s seldom heard today. In fact, capital expenditure in Japan has risen annually for the past three years. In 2002 and 2003, restructuring among Japanese companies was at its peak. This was a time when the greatest number of people lost their jobs due to personnel cuts, and the unemployment rate was at its highest. Only naturally, perhaps, the job market for new graduates was said to be in a “glacial period.” And yet, in an instant it’s become an “overheated” market. The dramatic changes such as these that have occurred in the relatively short period of just three to five years are also a part of the globalization during the 21st century.

In an era when social changes occur easily, companies and individuals are probably not making a huge mistake when they choose to follow the crowd. In the former era of rapid economic growth, the economy was growing at a rate of more than 10% annually, so it was possible to achieve double-digit growth just by taking cues from those around you and conducting business as usual. Large corporations that maintained a seniority-based pay structure were in many cases able to achieve their own long-term targets without problems, merely by acting in accordance with the structure. Following the crowd, if you abandon your individuality and adapt yourself to such external factors as organizations or society, can be seen as a low-return but also low-risk approach. Going forward, however, these external factors themselves will be subject to significant change, so even though you may think you’ve adapted yourself to them, there’s a strong possibility you’ll wake up one day and realize that the factors have changed, or have disappeared entirely.

It’s therefore necessary for both companies and individuals to be increasingly sensitive to changes in external factors. At the same time, your individuality (your own sense of values, which can be called your “core values”) becomes even more important. Specifically, this is how you want to live your life, or in the case of corporations, what kind of company you aspire to be. This doesn’t simply involve adapting yourself to external factors, but also about making choices so that you’re not caught up in the turmoil which follows changes in such factors. To be able to make such choices, you must decide what you want to be, what you’re aiming for, and where your priorities lie. In other words, you need to determine for yourself your own lifetime plan.

As for what the Meitec Group is aiming for, and what it’s trying to achieve, I plan once again this year to share the lifelong plan for the Meitec Group with everyone through our efforts to achieve the Global Vision 21 plan. I’ll provide more details during the annual President’s Forum, so I hope that as many employees as possible will attend.

January, 2007