Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (137) May 24, 2024

 The Meteorological Agency announced on May 21 that the rainy season has likely started in Okinawa and Amami. The onset of the rainy season in Okinawa is 11 days later than usual compared to an average year and in Amami 9 days later. It seems that it will probably still be a while near Honshu, but wet days are going to continue from now on. Let’s take care of each other’s health.

■■What I have recently thought and focused on:
■I attended “A direct hit! Japan cram school”
I attended monthly lunch seminar of “A direct hit! Japan cram school” run by Mr. Fumiya Shinohara, a political commentator that we have been close for many years, on Wednesday this week. It has been 13 years this year since the start of this cram school, and I have been a member from the beginning. Every time, it invites mainly a politician or economic man who has a table talk about 30 minutes and after that, conversation with Mr. Shinohara and question and answer session with participants. I attend this seminar as much as possible.
The most memorable thing so far is the question and answer with Mr. Kasai, Honorary Chairman and Executive Director of Central Japan Railway who passed away in May 2022, on May 28, 2014. At that time, I served as “committee chairman of the Linear and Hokuriku Shinkansen of National land and Regional Infrastructure Committee” in Kansai Economic Federation.
The Linear Chuo Shinkansen is a project promoted by Central Japan Railway which is a private company. According to the initial business plan, it supposed to link Tokyo and Osaka in 67 minutes and the opening between Tokyo and Nagoya would be 2027 and extension from Nagoya to Osaka via Nara would be 18 years later 2045. In regard to this, Kansai Economic Federation strongly insisted on the need of simultaneous opening of Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka. On that day, I also asked him directly for this point. And that question and answer became an important clue for my subsequent negotiations with the government and related ministries. It resulted in fiscal investment and loan program of 3 trillion yen decided by Prime Minister Abe at that time in June 2016. The simultaneous opening of Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka could not be achieved, but the extension to Osaka advanced by 8 years from the initial plan, resulting in 2037. However, due to other factor, it is very disappointing that there is a big derailment in this schedule for the moment.
Incidentally, this week guest speaker is Mr. Toshiaki Endo, former General Council chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, and he talked about recent political situation. I was asked my thoughts about Kishida administration, and then I commented as follows.
“I think Prime Minister Kishida is doing very well. But I am not sure if he is unappealing or lack of performance, and I feel it has not been handed down. And my impression is that each policy stays in stopgap treatments such as fixed-sum tax cut and countermeasures to the declining birthrate. On the other hand, serious discussions on important matters forming the heart of structure of the country, for instance, revision of the constitution, defense power, financial crisis, reinforcement of nuclear power generation essential for energy policy in Japan, social security and so on, have been postponed. Anyway, to achieve policy implementation, one must win elections. In case of the late Prime Minister Abe, winning consecutive victories in elections had strengthened the centralizing force. But the approval rating of Kishida administration is sluggish and winning in the next election is very difficult under the present circumstances. I think that such sense of despair leads to the public’s uncertainty about the future.”

■My address when resigning from an outside director of Company A:
I will resign from an outside director of Company A listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Prime Market which I was accepted on the premise of 4 years at the shareholder meeting in June this year. The other day, I delivered my address of resignation as follows, when I attended the last board meeting. It is written down for reference.
“I would like to express my gratitude when resigning from an outside director of our company at the shareholder meeting this year.
In retrospect, when I was appointed to an outside director of our company was at the shareholder meeting in June 2020, 4 years ago. At that time, spread of corona infection became a serious problem and a state of emergency was declared nationwide in April 2020. As a result, we had been threatened by the pandemic both domestically and internationally for more than three years until relaxation to class 5 in May last year. And Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago and a steep rise in the price of crude oil and food brought worldwide inflation. Sanctions against Russia served as a catalyst and global economy walked the road to division. The Unted Nations and WTO have become dysfunctional for such geopolitical risk, and global economy that has smoothly developed due to globalization is at a major turning point.
And in addition to corona disaster and turbulent world situation, in Japan, Abe administration that lasted for 8 years ended in September 2020 and the incoming Suga administration was short-lived of 1 year and 1 month. And succeeding Kishida administration was swayed by assassination of Prime Minister Abe in July 2022, Unification Church issue, and current issue of slush funds in political party income, and the cabinet approval rating is sluggish in the 20 % range and the government is getting into a drifting situation. Japanese economy is also hard to get out of lost 30 years, but recent effect of weak yen close to 160 yen is bringing strong corporate performance, upward swing in the prices of stocks and wage increase movement. But whether this is sustainable or not is an unknown. Like this, the environment surrounding corporate activities remains uncertain both domestically and internationally.
(An omission of a middle part)
Like this, it has been a tumultuous four years, though only four years. The environment surrounding corporate management continues to be very severe and the situation like “nobody knows what may happen tomorrow” is expected. And in addition to economic aspects such as checking numerical aspects, PBR, ROE and so on by the Tokyo Stock Exchange, movement to elimination of cross-shareholdings, preparation for M&A, anti-activist measures, growing importance of IR, and sustainable wage increase, corporate responsibility for social aspects such as correction of gender gap, extension of employment, environmental issues, childcare and nursing care is growing stronger.
On the other hand, the declining birthrate and aging population will continue to advance in Japan, and expectations for significant domestic demand are low. In order to cope with such situation, companies must make a profit at all costs. Otherwise, they can’t survive, and no one can help them. Therefore, they must utilize all management resources such as people, goods and money, and there is no other way but to find a way out with their hands.
Our company has generally achieved favorable performance for the last severe four years. I would like to express my sincere respect for all employees and executive department. In case of service industry, the mindset of each employee making up an organization has a significant impact on business performance. In the previous job era, I kept saying that “Aim for an organization with good communication, brightly, enjoyably, and in a relaxed way”. That idea has not changed in the slightest. I believe that to be a free-spirited organization is the most important thing.
(An omission of a middle part)
In closing, I would like to pray from the bottom of my heart that our company will continue to adapt to objective changes and develop, and I sincerely wish you all good health and happiness. This is my retirement message. Thank you very much for the last four years.

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