Table Speech

Initiation Speech

December 1, 2010

Mr. Eiichiro Nagatani
Mr. Yukio Tada

Initiation Speech 1

“Measures against Food Allergy taken by a
Manufacturer of Processed Food”

Mr. Eiichiro Nagatani
Chairman, Nagatanien Co.,Ltd.

 People of wide-ranging ages suffer from food allergies today. According to the 2005 Report issued by the Rheumatism & Allergy Committee, larger numbers of infants and school children suffer from allergies than adults.

 As a manufacturer of processed food, we have taken various measures against food allergy since 2002, to meet the requirements stipulated by the revised Food Sanitation Law. The new labeling system was introduced for processed food to indicate specific allergy-causing ingredients (egg, milk, wheat, buckwheat, peanut, shrimp and crab). This legislative revision encouraged our company to develop new allergen-free products. However small the market might be, we were determined to make social contribution by providing the much-needed products to those customers in need.

 We went through a great deal of trial and error to make our two key-products allergen-free: “topping for rice” and “retort-pouch curry” which were in great demand. The big challenges we experienced in our product development are summarized into the following three points.
Good Taste
Although some allergen-free products were available in those days, most of them had poor taste and were expensive. Our corporate philosophy of pursuing “Naturally Excellent Taste” motivated us to tackle the demanding challenge of developing allergen-free products with good taste.
For example, we had to avoid using soy sauce, which contains wheat and soybean. We test-tried various ingredients to enhance the same umami (deliciousness), and finally succeeded by using the extract of ‘yeast’ and ‘shiitake mushrooms’. We also succeeded in using flour from a certain cereal to substitute wheat flour for thickening the curry.

Production Facilities
We must be meticulous about contamination in the production phase. Even a minute amount of allergen mixed into products will result in serious damage. Thus, we invested several hundred million yen and built a dedicated facility in our plant to ensure production in an isolated space.

Allergen-free products become very costly, as they require special ingredients, dedicated facilities and operation, while the quantity produced is small. Allergen-free “topping for rice,” which is nearly twice as expensive as ordinary product, still does not yield profit.

 We are determined to keep dealing with food allergy to make social contribution, in spite of many challenging problems. We position our allergen-free products not to be “exclusively for customers with food allergy” but to be products for “everybody” in order that everybody can share the joy of eating together. It is our sincere wish to provide safe products with excellent taste, available anytime anywhere so that our customers enjoy eating together with their family and friends. We will work hard to keep improving our technology to provide more delicious products with more affordable prices.

Initiation Speech 2

“Current Situation of the Think Tanks in Japan and the US”

Mr. Yukio Tada
President, Sojitz Research Institute, Ltd.

 Think tank is a general term given to research institutes engaged in public-policy research and policy proposals to solve various issues. Think tanks based in Europe and the US undertake research on neutral and independent footing. There are over 1,000 think tanks in the US, of which over 100 major think tanks are concentrated in Washington DC. The history of think thanks is not long. The Brookings Institution, said to be the oldest, was founded in 1916 by the voluntary contribution of Mr. Robert Brookings when Woodrow Wilson was the President. The US was in the midst of a turning point in its history. President Wilson carried out liberal reform to correct the course of domestic economy which achieved rapid growth by monopolistic enterprises. In the international arena, the outbreak of World War I and the formation of the League of Nations posed new diplomatic and security challenges, with the US taking a leading role. The time called for tough decision-makings in both domestic and diplomatic policies when the new international rules were being forged. President Wilson fully realized the necessity to secure the top-level brainpower to meet political challenges, thus think tanks were born.

 Ever since, think tanks have influenced policy-making of the administration in power and have sent talented personnel to the government. We should note that talented people gathered from around the world as well as major NPO foundations supported the sound management of think tanks from its dawning in the US.

 Comparing the think tanks in Japan and the US, there are following three differences in the social environment.
(1) Difference between Washington DC and Tokyo
Washington DC has the advantage of being the world’s political, economic and information strongpoint, providing an ideal intellectual environment for international affairs analysis. It attracts superb personnel and intelligence from around the world as well as massive amount of up-to-the-minute information, worth 100 times more than Tokyo. Even though electronic devices allow retrieval from overseas nowadays, an access to the primary information from the interested party in English is crucial.

(2) “Revolving Door” through political appointee
Congress and the administration have often worked out national strategies in the US, originating from important proposals raised by think-tankers. Think tanks discuss various issues from independent and neutral perspective in order to secure national interest. Therefore, political appointees of think-tankers are immediate assets by working out suprapartisan policy proposals.

(3) Benevolent culture of “voluntary contributions” in the US
According to the “Giving USA Foundation” report, voluntary contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals in the US totaled 303.7 billion dollars last year, even during the economic slump triggered by the Lehman Shock. Again, the sum is worth 100 times more than voluntary contributions made in Japan.

 Time has come for Japan to establish “genuine think tanks” to achieve the second opening of the country to the outside world, without which Japan cannot meet the diversified and complicated issues posed by the international society.