Table Speech

Our Engagement with Cancer Patients

May 13, 2015

Mr. Keizi Kodama
President & CEO, SVENSON CO., LTD.

 Svenson Co., Ltd. was originally founded in Germany to provide hair care treatment. Our head office has 4 divisions of Men’s, Lady’s, Hair Care Marketing and Environmental Business. We also have affiliated companies in 4 countries (Kerling International of Germany, Hungary, Bali in Indonesia and Shanghai in China) as well as subsidiaries that undertake 13 operations in total.

 Our employees have engaged in volunteer activities for more than 20 years. All staff members participate in local volunteer activities twice a year that range from providing haircuts and shampoo services at hospitals and nursing homes to maintenance of wheelchairs and infusion stands.

 We came in contact with a medical institution 17 years ago through our volunteer activities and were asked for some advice on the treatment of hair loss caused by anticancer agents. This is how we launched a new service of medical wigs in 2000. Not being a medical professional, we questioned ourselves how we can support and encourage patients who undergo difficult treatments and their family in an empathic manner. We convey the opinions we got from patients and families to medical professionals and get instructions by physicians, nurses and specialists on how to provide care. Currently we support 30,000 patients a year through active information exchanges.

 We also got in contact with Dr. Okio Hino, Department of Pathology and Oncology, Juntendo University School of Medicine who launched the “Cancer Philosophy Clinic, Medical Café” in 2009 to provide a venue for patients from different backgrounds to gather and interact. Today, there are over 50 Medical Cafés across Japan. Our staff members found this initiative suit our company philosophy to “give empathic support to patients” and participated in the Café and met Dr. Hino in person. As part of our volunteer activities, we started to hold a Medical Café at our Salons on a regular basis.

 Initially many patients visit the Café dispiritedly, but after talking with other patients and medical staff in a relaxed setting, they are often more forthcoming, share their painful feelings and regain their confidence and smile. Japan lags behind Western countries in providing support to cancer patients, but I believe this initiative will contribute to improve the treatment environment for such patients who keep increasing in number.

 The focus of medical care is shifting from “treating” and “saving” patients to “healing,” “accepting the disease” and “supporting” them through collaboration among different professions including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and clinical psychotherapists.

 We hope to further enhance our social engagement activities to encourage people who share similar worries to interact and find some solutions. I believe these activities are meaningful for the society as well as our employees. I keep telling my staff members that they might encounter difficulties in their life but try to serve our customers and the public through our everyday business and lead a meaningful life.

 We are determined to continue our various social activities to make many people happy.

Communication (Exchanging Views) over Thirty Years --- Playing catch with words ---

May 13, 2015

Mr. Kazumasa Kusaka
Chairman & CEO,

 “Playing catch with words – warm-hearted exchanges between people” is my favorite phrase that I quote from a book written by the late Mitsuko Saito who was a professor at International Christian University and a pioneer of simultaneous interpretation.

 The Japan Economic Foundation (JEF) was established in 1981 when Japanese automobiles and home electric appliances came under fierce attack by the US. This Japan-US trade friction gave birth to the Foundation which aims to deepen mutual understanding between Japan and other countries. Our mission is to provide information about Japan and to facilitate exchange of views among opinion leaders from different countries. Around the 1980s, there were no convenient tools, like the internet, that allowed us to counter-argue the statements and news distributed by major newspaper companies (New York Times, Washington Post etc.), TV stations (CBS etc.) or news agencies (Reuters, Associated Press etc.). It often took time for those involved to consult, in a Japanese way, about how to counter-argue. Frustratingly enough, by the time our overdue short article of counterargument finally appeared in newspapers, situations had often changed and the first coverage had preoccupied majority of readers’ minds as a “fact.”

 It is often said that “in the world of politics, perception is reality.” To put it simply, “the person who speaks up wins.” This is why we started to publish magazines in English to keep the international community informed about Japan as well as engage in dialogues with think-tanks and intellectuals in Western and Asian countries.

 We have learnt that communication is like playing catch with words. We must throw the ball accurately to allow our partner to catch it, while we have to catch the ball returned (what others have said) correctly. Manufactured goods used to dominate our exports and we took it for granted that good product quality by itself would attract customers. Market demand in other countries led to local production that further generated employment, strengthened links with local communities and got ourselves understood. We have worked in close collaboration with our partners over 20 years to win the trust of them as comrades.

 Competition has changed in nature, from between nations to between companies, often between multinational company alliances. It is thus necessary to gain support within the country for TPP and FTAs, including RCEP among East Asian countries, based on a forward-looking growth strategy.

 Another major structural change is that various players have come to influence the decision-making process concerning political and security issues, once dominated by limited number of elites and experts. In a democratic nation, political decisions become possible only when the broader general public gets informed and involved. Track II diplomacy refers to this change where non-state actors have come to play a greater role in international exchanges. It is thus important to work on these diversified stakeholders, including intellectuals, directly and through the media to make them feel a sense of community at a social level.