Table Speech

Initiation Speech

March 3, 2010

Mr. Kenji Hashidate
Mr. Hisato Ishida

Initiation Speech 1

“Bar Association of Today” and “International Exchange and Cultural Exchange, with a Live Flute Performance”

Mr. Kenji Hashidate
Managing Partner, Hashidate Law Office

I.Bar Association of Today
 1. Sharp increase in lawyers
Today, bar associations in Japan are split into two, due to the issue of rapid increase in number of new lawyers. This presumably led to the re-election of the President for the Japan Federation of Bar Associations in March.

 For lawyers to actually practice law, we are obliged to pay the world’s most expensive membership fee of 500,000 yen per year and belong to a certain association. As a result of judicial reform, the lawyers are the most affected. While the number of judges or public prosecutors showed only a small increase, lawyers increased sharply by over 10,000, almost equaling to the emergence of 3 large-scale bar associations.

2. ”Noki-ben” and “a working poor lawyer”
 After all the hardships to become a lawyer, you are not allowed to practice law unless you register your law office at a certain bar association. This led to the emergence of many unpaid lawyers called “noki-ben,” who try to borrow the eaves of a law firm just to secure the place for registration.

 Even if you are lucky enough to get hired, your initial salary could be less than 4 million yen a year, making you “a working-poor lawyer.” There are illegal groups approaching the excessive number of new lawyers, raising the issue of “non-affiliated lawyers.”

 3. Non-affiliated lawyers and law suits against overpaid interest
Now, not all the “lawyers of today” are suffering from bad business. There are flourishing lawyers, who undertake law suits demanding refunds of overpaid interest against consumer finance companies, on behalf of multiple debtors.

 In January 2006, the Supreme Court declared the “gray-zone interest rate”
to be illegal, which is between 14% and 29% per year stipulated by the “Interest Rate Restriction Act” and the Investment Law. This led to a rapid increase in lawsuits regarding overpaid interest, accounting for over 50% of the total civil cases at the Tokyo district court in 2009. Repayments by major consumer finance companies have exceeded 1 trillion yen and lawyers and judicial scriveners engaged in this business are said to have earned several hundreds of billion yen as their fee. The Asahi Newspaper article of last October reported that 697 lawyers and judicial scriveners incurred 2.8 billion yen penalty tax as they failed to declare 7.9 billion yen in total. The authority assumes that those “non-affiliated lawyers” and “law suits demanding refund of overpaid interest” are intertwined.

II.International exchange and cultural exchange
 I have worked in promoting international exchange at the First Tokyo Bar Association since 2003, sharing the same sentiment stipulated in the 4th Objective of Rotary “the advancement of international understanding, through a world fellowship united in the ideal of service.”

 During the past 7 years, we have concluded friendship agreements with 6 bar associations in the UK, Shanghai, Hawaii, California, US (international department) and Frankfurt. We organize joint symposiums, and conduct volunteer activities together with family members. We are grateful that many ambassadors are actively supporting our international exchange program.

 Mutual understanding equals cultural understanding. For example, we were welcomed by Hula dance and ukulele performance by judges in Hawaii, tai-ji in Shanghai, and piano and opera performances in the UK and Germany. In return, our Association gave a presentation of traditional Japanese culture, performances of Shinobue (bamboo flute) and No-kan (flute used in Noh performance).

 Before concluding my speech, I would like to give a live flute performance in collaboration with Mr. Fukuhara, master of our “Flute Group” of the First Tokyo Bar Association.

Initiation Speech 2

“Evolution of Meal Service Industry”

Mr. Hisato Ishida
President & CEO, Aim Services Co., Ltd.

 I wonder if you know “meal service industry,” which is a slightly different business model from the conventional board meals at dormitories, school lunches, lunch-box caterers or eating-out restaurants. For example, eating-out restaurants provide fixed menus for unspecified large number of customers from morning to night. By contrast, the “meal service industry” provides varying menus by day for the large number of specified customers in a short span of time, which requires a highly systematic management. My company provides over 1.2 million meals per day throughout Japan.

 The total market size is around 4 trillion yen, with potential for diverse expansion into services ranging from conventional business offices, factories, hospitals, social welfare facilities, schools, dormitories to sport facilities such as baseball parks and stadiums and further to prisons which are currently undergoing privatization. In other words, wherever “people gather” has potential for our business.

 In the past, 3 key words, “cheap”, “delicious” and “safe” defined the meal service, to which 2 new keywords, “healthy” and ”environmental” are added today. Our industry is now required to provide a wide-ranging service of “new function,” not just providing meals.

 For example, we must take measures for “specific health examination” and “specific health guidance” which became compulsory since April 2008. The number of patients or patients-to-be suffering from life-style related diseases, such as diabetes, is increasing steadily and its mortality rate accounts for one third of all deaths. Companies must take measures to maintain their employees’ health. Meal service companies have started to provide comprehensive services ranging from providing healthy menus at company cafeterias to compiling nutritional and exercise data for individual employees so that nutritionists can give personal guidance, in collaboration with health insurance associations and industrial physicians. Our industry is taking further steps to provide “new functions” closely related to the governmental policy.

 Hospital meals are now diversified, allowing patients to choose the menu, based not only on their physical conditions but also on their likings, as medical care and diet are intertwined.

 Another example of our new scope of service is providing meals to prisoners with a relatively light sentence at facilities called “social rehabilitation promotion centers.” We are serving 2,000 meals at one time, in a limited timeframe. Here also, our service includes vocational training by teaching them cooking in the kitchen in order to improve the prisoners’ re-employment prospects when they are released from prison.

 Before closing, I hope my speech has given you a better appreciation of the “meal service industry.” It is our sincere wish to deliver “health” and “smile” to you all through daily meals, as we meet new challenges in many different activities.