A New Beginning

The month of March marks the closing date for settlement of accounts, and information suggests that 70% of Japanese companies are going to be in the red this year. According to bank sources, that state of affairs would be quite unprecedented. It shows that, apart from a few, Japanese companies really are facing a critical situation.

The first reasons that can be cited were the Great East Japan Earthquake, a once in a thousand years disaster; the ensuing accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant; and the battle against the invisible devil of radiation. Other factors that added to their woes were the terrible flooding in Thailand, the sharp appreciation of the yen against the US dollar and euro, and a drop in earnings as a result of a worldwide fall in prices. Industrial circles were exhausted, and the government's infantile response and lack of understanding only made matters worse. It is in this negative climate that companies will be settling their accounts for fiscal 2011. One can quite understand why 70% of them will be in the red.

Last year, in their settlement of accounts for fiscal 2010, companies disposed of negative elements generated by the impact of the Lehman Brothers shock and were getting ready to switch course to a growth strategy. Then the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, and the nuclear plant accident occurred. The growth strategy plans had to be scrapped, and companies found themselves in the depths of despair. And then the other factors mentioned above hit one after the other.

How should we position, understand, and remember 2011, a year that brought such catastrophes? Recently my mind has been completely preoccupied by these questions. And when I heard that 70% of Japanese companies were going to be in the red, they expanded even more. How are the negative aspects of 2011 going to cast a shadow on 2012? How is the country itself going to transform?

I believe that the winds of change will blow through all kinds of places, and people will find the right road ahead and make progress toward tomorrow. In that sense, 2011 was a special year. After the March settlement of accounts, people should always realize that they are standing at a new starting line and that "everything starts from here." We must wipe away the negative elements that wrought so much destruction in 2011, switch to positive plans that look ahead 3, 5, 10 years down the road, and move forward with normal, firm footsteps. Natural disasters cannot be helped, but as before they are always accompanied by negative aspects involving people. It is this human aspect that we must prevent from growing larger and firmly control.

For our part, we are determined to do all we can for the constructive development of the industry. We will move forward strongly in line with the philosophy of "always beside the customer."

Fortunately, Phile-web, the portal site operated by our company, has grown larger and is attracting attention from not only the industry but a wide range of other people too. Phile-web now has around one million visitors a month and 12 million page views a month. In new tie-ups with convenience stores, the magazine Smart Plus will go on sale on March 10 at Lawson, Family Mart, Circle K Sunkus, and other outlets. These tie-ups are real proof of the high level of recognition that Phile-web enjoys and will help attract customers to our industry. Hopefully we will reach an agreement with 7-Eleven some time as well. In addition, through a tie-up with a leading magazine in China, we hope to be able to announce the results of our Audio Excellence Award, the most prestigious pure audio award, in East Asia as well.

While not forgetting 2011, a catastrophic year, we want to continue making further challenges and contributing to the development of the industry. That is how I feel right now. Really, "everything starts from here." It's a new beginning.