How Time Flies!

A Happy New Year to you all! The year 2004 has already got off to a start, but isn’t ft it amazing just how quickly the three years from 2001 to 2003 went by. It seems to have passed in an instant.

Why do the past three years seem to have gone by so quickly? In a nutshell, it was a turbulent period in which the storms of change rocked all fields in politics, the economy, and society.

Companies were called on to reform their old ways and create new values. Among them, I think that the “destruction and creation” of President Kunio Nakamura of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. was symbolic. At a press conference following Nakamura’s appointment as president, many of the questions seemed to focus on the fact that Matsushita was being beaten by Sony. At that time, Sony really was basking in its runaway success with such products as the VAIO computer, PlayStation, and its televisions. I thought even then, however, that in the field of AVC(Audio,Visual & Communication) products, it was Matsushita that had the lead.

Over the last three years Matsushita has achieved vertical takeoff through its so-called “V products”; it was Matsushita’s AVC products that provided the driving force behind its recovery. In 2003 the company moved with certainty from destruction to creation, the completed form of the reborn Matsushita was realized, and it began to advance firmly on the growth track. That was really a wonderful achievement. It is not hard to imagine that Matsushita’s growth in 2004 is going to be vigorous.

Another reason why time seems to have passed by so quickly is the rapid growth of digital products with big potential, which have pushed the business up over the last three years. Thin televisions, DVD recorders, and digital cameras have been called the three new sacred treasures, and digital equipment has drawn a vivid picture of the industry’s future.

On the political front, I think we can say that Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has been at the core of administrative management over the last three years. The symbol of the Koizumi administration is the fact that, because of economic hardship, as many as 30,000 people are taking their own lives every year. It is said that the capture of Saddam Hussein provides a favorable tailwind for the Koizumi administration, but a deflationary trend continues in the economy, so my feeling is that the nation’s anxiety is going to grow in 2004. The Koizumi administration has only added to the public’s uncertainty. In a different sense, this factor also has speeded up the flow of time over the last three years.

The period from 2001 to 2003 really was a turbulent one. In contrast, rather than being a period of violent change, I think that in all fields the three years from 2004 will be a period in which we move toward sorting things out and achieving stability. Reorganization in the field of distribution will turn the final corner and become orderly, and makers will be rearranged into winners and losers and settle down. That is what is going to happen, I think.

The troubles of the last three years appear to have thoroughly changed the lifestyles of users, but this has not necessarily been in a negative direction. Lifestyles seem to have changed to a higher quality - if anything, to a European style. Therefore, retail stores should not establish themselves on low prices alone. Rather, they are required to offer styles that use valuable software. Those companies and businesses that have their roots in true customer satisfaction are the ones that are going to achieve victory.

Whatever the case, I think that the three years from 2004 also are going to fly past. An age is going to continue in which only ideas based on the concept of “tomorrow today” are going to survive.

Again, best wishes for a happy new year!