Table Speech

Initiation Speech

August 18, 2010

Mr. Ryozo Kato
Mr. Sohei Sasaki


Initiation Speech 1
“My Views on Baseball”

Mr. Ryozo Kato
Nippon Professional Baseball Organization

 Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Japan, as well as in US where baseball was born. Some Americans might say that football or basketball is more popular, but baseball is the only major sport in the US for which the incumbent President throws the ceremonial first pitch every year. Some of my American friends told me that they could not tolerate baseball games as the pace of the games was so slow. You can never force or persuade others to become a fan of a certain sport. Having said that, let me give my views on the reason behind baseball popularity in Japan.

 Sports are all exciting. The late Professor Yoshitake Oka stated that “wars were sports for kings in ancient times.” Preference of sports varies from countries or localities, yet in general, sports can be categorized into two, with boxing at one extreme and golfing at the other. You fight with your opponent and try to knock him down in boxing, while you fight with yourself in golfing. Baseball has both boxing-style “life or death” elements and golfing-style “fighting with yourself” elements. Its wide-ranging techniques include crafty plays of foul balls, base stealing or pickoffs, and risky plays of beanballs.

 According to Mr. Tetsuharu Kawakami, once renowned baseball player, the ball actually moves for merely 20 minutes in each baseball game, which exceeds 3 hours nowadays. Yet, throughout the game the spectators can enjoy beer and share the excitement of the players, coaches and managers.

 The ultimate goal of baseball is to return safely to the home plate and outnumber the opponent.

 There are many loose elements in baseball, including the size or shape of ballparks. Yet, when it comes to bats, only wooden bats have been used from the early days up to date for professional baseball games. This allows us to discuss the Best Nine Awards in the context of records made by best players of all times.

 Now, will baseball continue to enjoy its popularity? I sincerely hope it will, yet there is no guarantee. It is welcoming that the number of sports fan is increasing. What we see lately is, however, that most of these fans are “quick to quit or withdraw,” should any scandal occur. Baseball is not an exception, and its popularity could decline all of a sudden triggered by scandals.

 I personally believe that scandals are provoked by inherent human weakness. Then, how can we prevent scandals? I believe there are two aspects. One is to encourage splendid plays by superb players in the field. The other is an early detection and treatment of any signs of scandal outside the field by all concerned, as well as training themselves for crisis management and self-purifying measures, should anything go wrong. I believe these are the only feasible solutions.

Initiation Speech 2
“Development of Credit Cards and Sophistication of Card Crimes”

Mr. Sohei Sasaki
Mitsubishi UFJ Nicos Co., Ltd.

 I am sure almost all of you here today possess several credit cards and have used them on different occasions. The size of the credit card market is expanding rapidly, as the volume of “credit-card-purchases” transactions jumped from 9 trillion yen in 1989 to 42 trillion yen in 2008, or accounting for 4% of the private-sector consumer spending in 1989 and expanded to 14% in 2008.

 There were over 300 million cards in force by 2008, which equals to 3 cards per adult aged over 20. It can be said that credit cards have become increasingly popular, so much as to replace cash in a certain sense.

 Looking at other countries, transactions by credit cards account for as high as 45% of the consumer spending in the US and 32% in the UK, although its growth rate is slowing down due to economic slump after the Lehman Shock. As the ratio in Japan stays relatively low at 14%, further growth of the market is expected.

 Credit cards were born in the 1950s in the US. The episode of Mr. Frank McNamara, founder of the world’s first credit card company, Diners Club, is often quoted. One day Mr. McNamara was greatly embarrassed to realize he was without his wallet, only after he finished his dinner at a restaurant. This experience made him work out the business model, which allows people to enjoy meals or shopping and receive various services even when they do not have cash on hand.

 Credit cards developed rapidly, thanks to their convenience. On the other hand, they were constantly targeted for illicit use and crimes. Total financial damage peaked in 2000 at 30 billion yen a year, since when it declined to around 10 billion yen in 2009. Nearly half of those damages continue to be caused by forged credit cards.

 What is noteworthy is that sophisticated and tricky methods are employed, including “skimming” (illegal copying of magnetic information in order to abuse forged credit cards) and “phishing” (stealing sensitive information such as credit card numbers or passwords by masquerading as a trustworthy credit card company or financial institution).

 The credit card industry takes various countermeasures to prevent such sophisticated abuses and crimes in order to secure safe usage of cards. We also ask our card members to handle cards and their information with utmost care, just as we do with cash.

 I am sure credit cards will further develop in their scope, due to their ease and convenience. I am determined to do my best to provide safer and better services for our card users.