2022 New Year’s Message from the President
Jan. 04. 2022
The New Year greeting delivered by Masumi Kakinoki, President & CEO at the Marubeni Tokyo Head Office on January 4 is posted below.
1. To Begin
Hello everyone, and Happy New Year!
It is a pleasure for me to welcome the start of 2022 together with you all.
I know that for many of you, as well as our customers and business partners, especially those of you working close to the front lines, including those of you who are overseas, it may have been difficult to enjoy the holidays to the full, due to restrictions on travel or activities.
However, despite these circumstances, the Marubeni Group has performed well during FY2021 and the prospect of a record profit of 350 billion yen is within our sights. When the Revised GC2021 was issued, I said “We are in a time of unprecedented emergency, and now is the time to stand strong and survive”. These solid results are a demonstration of the perseverance and the tireless efforts of everyone on the front lines, despite the limitations and the challenges. I would like to thank you all once again for your dedication and hard work.
2. The Environment facing our Company
As we start this new year, the expectations of our customers, business partners and stakeholders are greater than ever.
First, I would like to talk about 3 aspects of the environment facing Marubeni, starting with the global situation.
In 2022, US-China relations will be at the forefront once again, with a focus on the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics by the US and others, and the reaction from China. We must continue to pay close attention to global developments, and economic and security issues around the world, including Japan, and respond appropriately.
This year will see elections in a number of countries, including the US mid-term elections, whilst the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th National Party Congress is also due to take place, and it is important to follow these developments too. In Japan, following the lower house elections in autumn last year, Prime Minister Kishida faces upper house elections in the summer. His government aims to create a ‘growing economy where people can feel the benefits’, but it remains to be seen whether this growth strategy will be realized.
The economic and financial strategies of different countries, and their responses to climate change, do not always progress in the same direction or at the same pace. As a result of these differences in policy and response, the current frameworks and systems may change dramatically, leading to sudden partial decoupling and supply chain adjustments.
The second issue is sustainability.
At COP26, in November of last year, a global agreement was reached on the target of limiting global warming to 1.5℃ above pre-industrial levels.
The next decade will be crucial for achieving this goal, and I believe the global sustainability trend will continue to accelerate.
Every company has a duty to tackle sustainability, which means not only climate change but food and water security, circular economy, biodiversity, and the protection and promotion of human rights etc., and therefore we must find ways to solve these issues.
On the other hand, this trend is not happening uniformly around the world – there are variations between regions and business sectors. Naturally the solutions are not always the same either. It seems to be not uncommon for issues which relate specifically to a transitional phase to be taken lightly, but it is necessary for the Marubeni Group to be focused firmly on these issues and continue to push forward with initiatives which lead the way for our era.
The third one is COVID-19.
The novel coronavirus, which continues to deeply affect the whole world, brings both opportunities and threats.
With the considerable changes to people’s lifestyles, many new products and services have appeared, and at the same time the survival of some existing products and services is under threat. The opportunities and threats arising from the spread of COVID-19 will persist – even after the pandemic has ended, things are not going to return to the way they were before. With this in mind, we must look carefully at the changes in the world and society around us.
Even in sectors that were thought to be stable, and among companies that were well-regarded, some stuck to the previous way of doing business and were slow to respond to the crisis. As a result, their performance has suffered. On the other hand, some companies who were quick to read the crisis and take it as an opportunity to digitalize, or restructure their supply chains, have seen an improvement in their results.
Changes like these were already occurring in some places before the spread of COVID-19, but it seems that various kinds of changes are now happening all at the same time due to the pandemic. Also, the different responses and sense of urgency are creating many new gaps which are becoming issues for society and our customers.
I would like each and every one of you to keep in mind that it is the mission of the Marubeni Group to respond quickly to the issues and gaps hidden in the process of change, and be the first to create and supply new value.
I believe that a general trading company is “an essential partner that continually bridges gaps in society”. In line with the unchanging values of our company creed, “Fairness, Innovation and Harmony”, it is our role to face the issues for society and our customers which are hidden in these gaps, and to create new value, even in times of dramatic change.
3. GC2021 Initiatives and the new Medium-Term Management Strategy
The end of GC2021 is just 3 months away, at the end of FY2021, and our next medium-term management strategy will start from FY2022.
As I said just now, based on our current performance we are on track to achieve record results, which is very pleasing indeed.
Commodity markets and natural resource prices, as well as the improvement in the consumer products market, have been significant tailwinds, but the fact that we were able to benefit from these tailwinds was due to sufficiently maintaining our business foundation. I think this is the strength of today’s Marubeni Group.
Our current performance has been bolstered by low-profile initiatives spanning a range of sectors, creating small but solid revenue pillars, as well as initiatives to maintain the competitiveness of our existing businesses and to strengthen them, and of course the efforts of all of you to promote these initiatives. These factors also contribute to our resilience in the face of changes in the business environment.
However, Marubeni is not alone in performing strongly – it is notable that there have been good results across the general trading house sector, so we must not be complacent and neglect our preparations for the future and we must not shrink challenges, otherwise these results will soon dwindle away. This sense of urgency is something I feel very strongly.
The discontinuous changes in the world around us, and the disruption of existing business models, are becoming more apparent and will continue to accelerate in the future. To face the uncertain environment ahead of us, we must use our knowledge to the full and boldly pursue challenges, in our various sectors and posts. Alternatively, if we are satisfied with the status quo and take things easy, we will be left behind in an instant. This is the reality of the world we live in.
I would like you to make 2022 a year for boldly trying one or two new challenges and putting them into practice. Some people may think that this means investing immediately in new sectors, but this is not the only way. Initiatives to maintain or improve the cost competitiveness of existing businesses; proposing new products and services to meet customers’ concerns; ideas for making internal processes more efficient through digitalization, or cost savings – these are all splendid new challenges. Sometimes opportunities arise when we least expect them. If you get some inspiration, I would like you to please start by sharing your idea with those around you.
As a company, too, we are continuing to try new things, such as the introduction of the new HR system, based on setting missions in order to maximize our capability for implementation of strategies and development of human resources; initiatives for the recruitment and development of diverse human resources; and the new head office building which has unassigned desks in order to create opportunities for different kinds of communication. These are a few examples. We will continue to work on these initiatives and make changes and improvements as necessary so that they can take root firmly.
The most important thing is to grow our existing businesses in a sustainable way, but the complexity of the business environment is increasing day by day. A growing number of sectors require new perspectives and specialist knowledge, instead of the old ways of thinking. Also, for Marubeni to move quickly into sectors where we have not been active before, one effective approach is working together with external experts. In order to address company-wide issues like these, we will review our systems and organization as necessary and adapt them flexibly, and try new challenges.
4. To Close
As I mentioned at the beginning, there is a lot of attention focused on whether the Marubeni Group can make a further leap to the next level - and 2022 is the starting point.
Whether or not we can enhance corporate value over the medium term towards 2030 depends on what we do now. With “Fairness, Innovation and Harmony” as our unwavering guide, we must address the issues facing society and our customers, and create new value. By embracing the challenges, together we will create the future. I am convinced that the path to the future vision of the Marubeni Group, and growth which combines both sustainability and diversity, lies this way.
Finally, as new coronavirus variants emerge, we must continue to be vigilant, and I hope that everyone can continue their work in a healthy way. The health and safety of Marubeni Group employees in Japan and overseas, and our customers and business partners, remains the top priority.
Please take good care of yourself, and I wish you and your families a happy and healthy new year.