Table Speech

Initiation speech

April 8, 2009

Mr. Tsuyoshi Noro
Mr. Tetsuro Kuwabara

The Current Situation of the Sugar Industry”

Mr. Tsuyoshi Noro,
President, Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar Co.,Ltd.

 The history of Dai-Nippon Meiji Sugar Co., Ltd. dates back to 1895, when the company was founded in Tokyo as Japan’s first modern sugar-manufacturer. The company started overseas production and sales in Taiwan in 1906, and later expanded to Java and Pyongyang, but was obliged to concentrate on domestic production when defeated in the war. In 1906, Meiji Sugar was founded as the 4th oldest sugar-manufacturer. These two 100% Mitsubishi affiliated companies merged in 1996 to form the present company.

 Annual consumption of sugar dropped drastically from a peak of 30kg per person in 1972 to about 19kg today, partly due to the misunderstanding that sugar triggers obesity and diabetes. The contradictory increase in number of lifestyle-related illnesses is in itself a good proof that excessive calorie intake is the cause of these diseases.
 Sugar consumption in Japan totals 2.2 million tons. Domestic sugar accounts for about 40% (850 thousand tons). The remaining 60% (1.35 million tons) are imported raw sugar mainly from Thailand and Australia.
Sugar canes are produced in Kagoshima and Okinawa, and beetroots in Hokkaido with a massive production of 700 thousand tons, thanks to governmental support in the 1950s and plant breeding and cultivation techniques in the 1980s. Raw sugar is refined into the world’s top quality product at 13 factories owned by 14 companies (includes joint production). The refining plants suffered declining performance from the 1980s, due to various factors including declining consumption affected by corn syrup, increased domestic beetroot production and drastic increases in imports of sugar containing products. Countermeasures based on the Industry Revitalization Law were introduced from 2000, which promoted restructuring of the sugar industry resulting in less production facilities, joint plant production and mergers of refining companies.

 The Japanese government enforced the “Sugar Starch Adjustment Reference Price Law” in 2007 by which the government purchases and resells domestically-produced and imported sugar to sugar manufacturers at a weighted average price. This law maintains the existing sugar price adjustment scheme so that the price gap between domestic and imported sugar is corrected. Furthermore, this law aims to reduce costs at each phase of production. Future initiatives by WTO and FTA are likely to call for further streamlining of the industry.
Global sugar production was 10 million tons at the end of the 19th century. It showed a dramatic increase in the 20th century, with total production of 160 million tons today. The recent dispute in Brazil, the world’s largest producer, reminds us of the challenging issues to be addressed on the future of clean energy bio-ethanol produced from sugar canes that can possibly trigger food crisis. I am convinced that sugar will be re-evaluated as a healthy and economical source of energy in the near future.

“Prospecting and Development of Oil and Gas”

Mr. Tetsuro Kuwabara,
Chairman of the Board, Diamond Gas Operation Co., Ltd.

 Environmentally-friendly renewable energies, such as solar and wind power generation or bio-fuel, are often reported by the media. The overall tone of argument is that the government and the private sector should work together to implement measures so that such clean energies will eventually replace oil, coal and natural gas. 

 Time has come for mankind to take actions and stop further destruction of the earth, in order to sustain natural environment, essential for the survival of all forms of life.
 According to the IEA 550 Policy Scenario, renewable energy currently accounts for 13% of the global primary energy, and is forecast to account for 18% around 2030, while nuclear power generation is estimated to increase from 6% today to only 7% in 2030. Fossil fuel (oil, coal, natural gas) accounts for 81% today and is estimated to remain predominant at 75% in 2030.
Although renewable energies, such as sunlight, solar heat and wind power, are forecast to grow 7 times by 2030, their absolute quantity is still limited. Also, the high cost of producing such energy means that oil, natural gas and coal will continue to be used.

 Let me elaborate on the process of prospecting, development and the production of oil and natural gas, as coal is outside my field. Thanks to the technological advancement, new oil and gas fields are being discovered to meet the growing demands, making the minable years of fossil fuel remain at the same level for the past 25 years, with 40 years for oil and 60 years for natural gas. These technologies enable the identification of potential deposits, boring for discovery, drawing up to the surface, sustainable production, maintaining security, as well as guaranteeing environmental-friendliness. Thanks to the advancement of seabed mining technology, England and Norway became oil-producing countries in the 1980s, which is a good example of what technological advancement can achieve.

 Nevertheless we ought to bear in mind that fossil fuels are finite resources. Therefore, we must use these precious resources sparingly, while endeavoring to develop new renewable energy sources. I myself and my colleagues, engaged in the industry of oil, gas and natural gas prospecting and development are determined to continue our strife to secure energy resources.