The Challenge Starts Now

Happy New Year!

A year and a half since the worldwide recession erupted in September 2008, the year 2010 has begun. We are still struggling with the aftereffects.

This year will be one of recovering from these aftereffects and searching for a growth strategy. There won't be any sudden uplift, though. We must start from scratch. Indeed, the challenge begins from here. So 2010 will be a year of challenge for us.

The main event in Japan last year was the change of government. From April the new administration will be executing the budget for the next fiscal year, so the time is coming for it to display its true ability. I hope that the government implements policies firmly from the perspective of the general public and that national life and the economy stabilize as a result. That is my big wish.

In an interview in The Nikkei toward the end of last year Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Masayuki Naoshima commented,"Income doubling in Asia, including Japan, is important, because only that will have the effect of pushing up domestic demand. In order to achieve income doubling, most important is the construction of infrastructure, so Japan has an extremely large role to play.”

Recent news such as Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's vision of an East Asian community, the visit to China by a delegation headed by Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, and the visit to Japan by China's number-two politician must have appeared promising in the eyes of Japan's business circles.

I believe that the achievement of a supply-demand balance in the good sense will undoubtedly have the effect of stimulating the economy and provide a foundation for Japan's growth strategy. The new administration will show its true colors from fiscal 2010 and, needless to say, relations with the United States and the rest of the world will begin to move in a good direction. Starting in 2010, I foresee Japan attaining a splendid underlying trend of growth by around the beginning of 2013.

Nevertheless, company executives who have struggled until now just cannot get out of that negative frame of mind. All too often they look at tomorrow in negative terms and make their plans accordingly. Maybe that is inevitable, because the reality that is casting a shadow over everything is that they do not have the margin to think about tomorrow and are even frantically concerned about how to get through today. But tomorrow will definitely come.

If measures for tomorrow are only a continuation of yesterday, then without fail they will lead in the direction of extinction. Why? Because you cannot draw an upward curve on the line extending up to yesterday. It is absolutely essential to think from tomorrow when planning today and plan tomorrow on the basis of this approach. Our starting line is 2010. The challenge begins from this year.

While thinking about this situation, I was reminded of the difference between"seeing"and"observing"and noticed that I myself, without realizing it, had fallen into the prevailing narrow mind-set. I often talk about"tomorrow's today"and"yesterday's today,"but in this recession I have been enveloped by the"yesterday's today"outlook as well. And this state of affairs is continuing.

"Perceiving with the eyes is called seeing; perceiving with the mind is called observation. Look at things that are nearby from a distance."It is even more important now than ever before to look first of all at the whole picture and then at the details.

At the same time, I intend to march strongly through 2010 with gratitude, compassion, and a smiling face.