Table Speech

Initiation Speech

July 29, 2009

Mr. Hiroyuki Uemura
Mr. Keiichiro Aihara

“Earthquakes and Typhoons ー Defensive Measures to be taken by Companies”

Mr. Hiroyuki Uemura
Senior Advisor, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Co., Ltd.

 Earthquakes and typhoons greatly impact on the business management of nonlife insurance. You may recall the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, hurricane “Andrew” in the USA, or the cyclone in Myanmar, which terrified us and caused loss of lives and property on a massive scale. The earthquake disaster in Sichuan Province, China, in May 2008 registered a magnitude of 8 with a total number of casualties reaching 90,000. In Japan, the awesome power of the Iwate-Miyagi Earthquake in June 2008 triggered massive landslides that extended for about 300 meters. As you all know, the Pacific seaboard of Japan has higher probability of earthquake occurrence, as it is susceptible to inter-plate earthquakes which occur fairly frequently.

 The Tokai Earthquake is an ocean-trench earthquake generated between the plates and generally occurs after an interval of 150 years. More than 150 years have passed since the last Tokai Earthquake, so there is an alarming probability of its occurrence. Estimates predict possible damage next time of 230,000 houses destroyed or burnt-down; 9,200 fatalities and economic damage reaching 37 trillion yen, which is 3.7 times higher than that of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.

 Earthquakes of various types, including inland and ocean-trench types, often hit the Kanto Region. If an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 directly hit near Tokyo at 6.00pm, the damage is estimated to include the destruction of 850,000 houses, 11,000 fatalities and 6.5 million people left stranded, and an economic loss reaching 112 trillion yen.

 As there are limitations in earthquake prediction, anti-seismic and seismic isolation, or anti-disaster measures must be taken by each company and family. Tokyo Metropolis requires companies to implement their own countermeasures and to allocate anti-disaster personnel.

 The cyclone that hit Myanmar in May 2008 caused massive damage and over 130,000 casualties. The Super Typhoon Nancy in 1961 was the most powerful typhoon which hit Japan. Future prospects of tropical cyclones indicate that their occurrence will decrease by 30%, but maximum wind speed is estimated to be extraordinarily strong and precipitation will increase. Companies must understand that in cases of typhoons, as with earthquakes, public institutions give priority to individual victims, thus giving no assistance to companies.

 This is why companies must establish the risk management mechanism even in ordinary times, to be fully prepared for natural disasters. The nonlife insurance industry has established the risk research institutes, in response to the requests made for some years to draft the Business Continuity Plan. Problems of each company can be identified by assessing their likely damages, especially to their buildings, production facilities, employees and information systems. It is no exaggeration to say that the survival of companies from a disastrous earthquake will be dependent upon them having well-laid and fully tested plans in place for dealing with such eventualities. As the sayings go, “Disaster happens when people least expect it,” and “If you are prepared, you don’t have to worry.” Business leaders have responsibility in taking due countermeasures and drafting programs to prepare for disasters.

“Source of Life Amino Acid”

Mr. Keiichiro Aihara
Special Corporate Advisor, Ajinomoto Co., Inc.

 Professor Kikunae Ikeda from the Faculty of Science, University of Tokyo, was the pioneer in discovering that glutamic acid, an amino acid contained largely in the kelp, was umami (flavour) compound in food. This discovery in 1908 was registered by the Japanese Patent Office to be one of the ten major inventions in Japan, along with the automatic weaving machine by Mr. Toyota, cultured pearl by Mr. Mikimoto, Yagi Antenna and MK steel, the permanent magnet. Glutamic acid has come to be used as umami seasoning all over the world.

 Amino acid is the constituent of our body and meals. What we call protein is the chain of amino acids. Only 20 types of amino acid are the basic constituents of protein, and their positioning or lengths determines which proteins become our muscle, internal organs or skin. Hormones and enzymes, which regulate our body function, are also made of amino acids. DNA in our gene determines their position.

 9 out of 20 types of amino acids cannot be synthesized in the human body and are called the essential amino acids. They must be taken in through food. If any single essential amino acid is absent from our meals, protein synthesis will be hampered and we will suffer deficiency symptoms. We have observed many adults and children suffering from malnutrition in various parts of developing countries, where high-quality protein or essential amino acids are deficient. In collaboration with researchers from the United Nations University, we have conducted administration test of lysine, one of the essential amino acids, over 10 years in developing countries. They showed surprising results that only a little amount of lysine (several hundred milligrams) increased the weight and height of schoolchildren suffering malnutrition.

 Essential amino acid deficiency is also observed among hospitalized inpatients in developed countries. Thanks to the efforts made by Japanese research companies, highly refined amino acids have been produced and provided through high-calorie infusion, which contribute to reducing mortality rate in postoperative phase.

 Amino acids are important as taste substance, contained in various foods. Latest medical research has proved that glutamic acid, contained in kelp or tomatoes, also stimulates appetite and improves digestive functions. Amino acids are widely used for medical purposes in Japan, USA and Europe. Top athletes use amino acids for physical conditioning or to prevent muscular pains. You might be surprised to know that amino acids are also used as raw materials for beauty products and toiletries, and even as advanced materials for the electronic substrate in our PCs.

 Japanese researchers have made a major contribution in analyzing functions of amino acids and conducting applied research for industrial purposes. Japanese companies have become world leaders in the production and industrial application of amino acids. It is my sincere wish that scientific advancements on amino acids will contribute to the improvement of our health and life. I am sure that the 21st century will be the century for amino acids.