Table Speech


Initiation Speech

November 20, 2007

Mr. Norimitsu Nakata,
Mr. Shuzo Kawamura,

“Passing on the Japanese Culture of Washi (Japanese paper)”

Mr. Norimitsu Nakata,
President,
OZU Corporation

 Our company is a long-established company founded during the Edo Period as a paper merchant and is celebrating its 354th year of operations. The founder Seizaemon (Nagahiro) Ozu was originally from Matsuzaka.

 At the time of founding, the main office was located in Matsuzaka and opened outlets in Edo, Kyoto, and Osaka; and at the time of account closing, the manager of each store visited the Matsuzaka original home and submitted the account records and made a report of business results.

 Times changed from the Meiji to the Taisho Era, and from the Taisho to the Showa Era, and the demand for paper rose rapidly. Our company expanded its business to western paper, household use paper, and non-woven fabrics for industrial use but never overlooked the sale of Washi.

 Washi, which the company handled since its beginning, is recognized as a cultural treasure that crystallizes Japanese culture and art, and we believe that selling Washi is a corporate mission.

 However, Washi stores which were able to be found everywhere in Japan in the past, have all transformed into stores handling modern stationery and office products. The shipment of Washi also declined, and hand-made Washi makers that numbered 400 or more in 1999, have declined to 301 by 2004.

 On the other hand, Japan is heading for an aging society, and generations who have retired from active services are finding new hobbies and interests in calligraphy and Washi crafts, and we have seen that the trend for yearning for the individuality and texture peculiar to Washi is still alive.

 Out company proposed to reestablish “Ozu Washi” in a renewed format and to present ways to utilize Washi in daily living.

 Recently, we have provided Washi and Japanese painting materials to Tokyo University of the Arts to foster younger generations. Many companies recently have declared legal compliance and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and have been making efforts to earn the confidence of society. Amidst severe market conditions, we are also seeking what approach we should take toward customers and how we should deal with the changing society. We hope to find the solution from the results of having observed the same market with the same perspective.

“Libya and I”

Mr. Shuzo Kawamura,
President and CEO,
Taichi Holdings Limited

After the Second World War, the Middle Eastern countries, centering on Arabia, achieved striking development backed by enormous petroleum capital.

 Japan depends on the Middle Eastern countries for 90% of her petroleum imports. Japan needs to deepen her understanding of countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and other countries.

 For 15 years until the lifting of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Libya in September 2003, Libya had been isolated from the world. During such period, Al-Saadi Gaddafi, the third son of the former head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi visited Japan and in April 2005 his second son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi also visited Japan, deepening its friendly relations with Japan.

 It has been rumored that Muammar al-Gaddafi himself may visit Japan next year and the extent of their expectation for Japan can be felt.

 To negotiate with Libyans, who are the prototypical of Arabian merchants backed by the teaching of the wide desert and Islam, the best way is to jump into their arms based on understanding the professionalism and warm human qualities, which they have by nature.

 Today’s Libya, like the other Arabic countries, is studded with high-rise buildings and well-equipped ports, and electrical goods flood the cities and the number of cars has multiplied.

 In spite of this, the ancient Roman relics, which have been designated as World Heritage sites stand aloof from the din and still remain in tact in its beauty.

 The land area is 5 times that of Japan, but the population is only one twentieth of Japan’s. The GDP is $50.3 billion or $7,380 per capital. The proved oil reserves ranked 9th in the world.

 As for the trade relationship with Japan, Japanese exports are \22 billion and imports are \4.8 billion, resulting in an enormous export surplus for Japan.

 What I feel when I visit the country is the extent of expectations that Libyans have for Japan. I think that Japan has a responsibility to respond such expectations. Libya is a country that is located far away, but I would like to hold the feeling that it should be treated as the closest country and we respect their culture and pride, and based on these principles we have frank negotiations and maintain trade.