Table Speech

Initiation Speech
From Transportation and Distribution to Logistics

August 21, 2013

Mr. Masanori Kawai
Chairman, Nippon Express Co. Ltd.

 The Great East Japan Earthquake made us realize the crucial role “distribution” plays in our society and industries. Today, let me trace the history of “distribution” that started from transportation and has evolved into logistics, in parallel with our economic growth, and share some outstanding issues our industries are facing now.

 Japan entered the “transportation era” in the mid-1940s after the War, when securing the transportation capacity in the midst of “supply shortage” was the absolute necessity. Back then, the transportation department of factories focused solely on delivering the goods, while the warehouse department focused on their storage. The industry pursued “partial optimization” then.

 Postwar reconstruction brought high economic growth to Japan in the mid-1950s. We entered the time of mass production and mass consumption, when “product manufacturing was directly linked to selling.” Constructions of major highways and Shinkansen (bullet train) lines opened the new era of high-speed mass transportation.

 Around the 1960s, we started to see the disadvantages and inefficiency of unintegrated functions ranging from transportation, storage, cargo handling, packaging, distribution processing to information processing. The concept of “physical distribution” was brought into Japan from the US. The distribution department came to replace the two separate departments of transportation and warehouse. The industry now pursued “departmental optimization.”

 The oil crises in 1973 and 1979 curbed high growth and brought stable growth instead. We shifted to high-mix low-volume production and product supply was catered to market demand. A much integrated and efficient approach was required, which brought the concept of “logistics” that consolidated management of various functions, including procurement of raw materials and parts, manufacturing, in-house merchandise transfer, sales and even collection and disposal of used products. The industry finally came to seek “total optimization.”

 Today, competition among companies has exacerbated as they advance their overseas operations. Each business must develop strategies for “global logistics” that ensure procurement, manufacturing and sales at the best suited location worldwide. The emergence of “supply chain management” which ties up the “manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers” as one company has achieved inter-business logistics and brought “chain optimization” that even transcends “total optimization.”

 Looking at some issues we face today, Japan is losing its competitive edge regarding international logistics, as our neighboring Asian countries enjoy high economic growth and improved competitiveness backed by their national development policies. The Japanese domestic policies undermine our international competitiveness to serve as a global logistics hub, as they merely facilitate the development of “hardware” infrastructures (airports and harbors etc.) while fail to rectify our “software” measures (customs duties, administrative procedures, airport fees etc.) that are considerably costly.

 The Cabinet approved the “Fundamental Principles of General Logistics Policy (2013-2017)” this June, formulated jointly by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The basic direction of future logistics policies is identified as “realization of optimal logistics as a whole without unreasonableness, waste and inconsistency inside and outside Japan.” We expect these principles will revitalize competitiveness of our industries and lead to improve our people’s life. We will endeavor to get wide public understanding on how enhanced collaboration among the government, cargo owners and distribution sector will fortify our industrial competitiveness.

Report of the Challenge 100 Committee

August 21, 2013

Mr. Yasuhiro Kuroda
Chairman of Challenge 100 Committee,
The Rotary Club of Tokyo

 Following the successful completion of our decade-long “Rotary Clear Lands” project that had commemorated the 80th Anniversary of Tokyo RC, we launched the Challenge 100 Project and embarked on its formulation towards our Centennial Anniversary. Just then, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit our country. We decided to deal with the reconstruction of devastated areas through our Challenge 100 Project. After extensive discussions and researches, the “Rotary Child Care Project (Tohoku Sukusuku Project)” started implementation in July 2011 to provide “support to new life born” in the areas.

 During the first year, we have set out to reconstruct the damaged child-care support center in Rikuzentakata City, with 11 million yen contributed from the Rotary Japan Disaster Recovery Fund Grants and 10 million yen donated jointly by our Club and the Ardmore RC in the US. The “Rotary Child Care House Ayukko” was completed and handed over on February 4, 2012, with the attendance of over 20 Rotarians and Mr. Toba, Mayor of Rikuzentakata City, as well as Mr. Itoh, President of Rikuzentakata RC.

 The facility serves multilateral functions that go beyond the initial planning. It is utilized as a community center for mothers and children, a place where local residents exchange and communicate through various events, as well as for mothers to initiate voluntary local contribution activities.

 The Project has now entered its second year and expanded its activity base to Kesennuma. Circumstances in these areas have undergone dramatic changes after March, 2012. Large-scale financial, in-kind or physical support provided immediately after the Earthquake has almost completed, calling for a new style of assistance.

 In such context, our Project is changing course towards encouraging “self-reliance” of local communities, through various seminars provided to “train staff members” with child-rearing expertise and organizing “salon for mothers” to facilitate networking among mothers and children to “build communities” in Kesennuma.

 Our activities are in line with one of the six Areas of Focus, “Maternal and Child Health,” enumerated in the Future Vision by Rotary Foundation. The Challenge 100 Committee, therefore, prepares to apply for the Global Grant of the Foundation. Thanks to financial assistances offered by our Twin Club Washington RC and Ardmore RC in Pennsylvania State, we are fulfilling the requirements for the Grant to secure assistance from overseas Clubs. Negotiations are underway also with RC Headquarters in Germany and a District in South Korea.

 Before closing, let me ask for your continuous understanding and support to our Project, that joins forces of RCs within the District, Clubs around the world and disaster-stricken Tohoku region to provide further “assistance to new life born” in the areas.