Virtue Is Its Own Reward

During the 2006 New Year’s vacation, I had some time to ponder about various things. The books that I read, the pearls of wisdom that I heard, and the thoughts that I had made me recognize once again the importance of further promoting our company’s philosophy of “contributing to the constructive development of the industry.”

Let me start with Wang Yang-ming: Even without talent and knowledge, life is certain if you have virtue and emotion. Virtue is the trunk; talent is the branches and leaves. Those who have virtue over talent are noble persons; those who have both talent and virtue are sages; those who lack both talent and virtue are fools.

When I read these words, I could not help but think that our prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is weak in both virtue and emotion. I wonder how he will go down in history.

Next are the words of former Keidanren Chairman Toshio Doko: Modesty for individuals, affluence for society. It was Mr. Doko, you will remember, who achieved structural reform and brought about the birth of the JR railway group. His response at that time was indeed that of a sage. I remember sharing the sense of fulfillment when seeds come to fruition.

Canon President Fujio Mitarai, who will become the chairman of Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) this spring, emphasized the following point: The first condition of growth is to have strong brand power and products that can dominate the market - in other words, killer products. The second is to establish a business model that can generate a stable revenue. And the third is to have an unshakable leadership to drive the company forward.

Then there is former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who said: In order for a company to generate profits over the long term, it is essential to give consideration to not only shareholders but a wide variety of interested parties, including the employees and the local community. The conditions of leaders are that they are not bound by the pursuit of profits, they understand the meaning of management and have a managerial creed, and they are optimistic. A leader is required to imagine the worst possible scenario and to be prepared with countermeasures.

I was also moved by the words of Dorothy Louise Law Nolte, as told by Crown Prince Naruhito: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient. If children live with encouragement, they learn confidenc

Honorary Chairman Norio Oga of Sony Corp. commented: Management means that the top person who has taken over the baton should think for himself about what direction the company must take in light of the times and its stage of growth. The top manager is always required to show leadership. After that, the baton was handed over to Howard Stringer.

And it was Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. President Kunio Nakamura who talked about a “super honest company.” The real meaning of these words was forcefully brought home by one incident recently concerning Matsushita. As Mr. Giuliani might say, when a serious crisis arises, a response that is heartfelt, speedy, and resolute leaves most people with the impression that this is a company that will go a long way for its customers. That, I think, is the magnificence and greatness of Konosuke Matsushita’s DNA.

Virtue is its own reward.
This year, I sincerely hope for the development of a virtuous industry.