Table Speech

Our Mission to Build Leadership Capacity of Business Managers

July 17, 2019

Mr. Masami Nakamura

 I serve as Chairman of Japan Management Association (JMA) which has been providing human resource development and training courses to management executives since 1982. In total 15,000 managers have completed the course to date and acquired logical and strategic thinking related to the areas of law, finance and human resource management. As we live in an everchanging world with rapid technological advancements and increasing geopolitical uncertainty, we must be ready to embrace and learn from changes to create a new value. We should cultivate our personal qualities and empower our beliefs to live by, on top of knowledge and experience.

 JMA launched the Global Business Leader Course about 15 years ago in which participants attend lectures from top-class leaders not only in Japan but in the U.S.A., Europe and China. Today, I wish to share impressive words that I treasure which were given by three prominent leaders during the course.

 Firstly, the late Mr. Jyun’ichi Imakita was a consultant for governmental institutions and private companies based in Europe and Japan. In his lecture “Business Management Seen from a European Perspective,” he highlighted that business managers should harness MVP. M stands for Mission, a dream or goal a company aims for. V stands for Vision which is a specific roadmap that leads to Mission. And P stands for Passion that is a driving force to achieve one’s goal.

 The second lesson was given by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mr. Norman Yoshio Mineta who emphasized that leaders ought to keep questioning “what is the right thing to do?” before making a decision. Once a decision is made, a leader should have the determination to commit oneself and carry through to the end.

 And thirdly, a Norwegian social activist and author Mr. Jens Wilhelm gave a lecture on the spirit of Caux Round Table at Caux Mountain House in Switzerland. He explained how we can shift our mindset from expecting the society to change to “think what you can do and how you can change”. I was deeply impressed when he emphasized that we as a human being should aim for high moral elements of “absolute honesty,” “absolute purity,” “absolute unselfishness” and “absolute love”.

 Business managers today face a growing expectation to fulfil social responsibility by maintaining a balance between profit making through robust corporate structure and stimulating growth and development of employees to create a new value to society as a whole. I feel it is our mission to build leadership capacity of business managers who will be ready to undertake multifaceted roles and duties with integrity.

Current Situation and Future of Physical Distribution

July 17, 2019

Mr. Kenji Watanabe

 Physical distribution (a.k.a. logistics) is incorporated in our daily life and economic activities. It is an important social infrastructure which supports the Japanese industries. You might recall how serious the damages were to our economic activities when the supply chain collapsed at the time of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Physical distribution is compared to blood vessels which carry blood named economy to every corner of our body namely our country. Once this blood vessel is clogged or broken, our economic activities will be brought to a standstill.

 The “Crisis of Home Delivery Service” became a serious social issue two years ago. Due to shortage of drivers caused by dramatic increases of internet-shopping, delivery of parcels became extremely difficult. A drastic change of approach is indispensable for the distribution industry, which is labor-intensive, on the assumption that labor shortage will surely continue into the future. From such perspective, let me share with you today how “active use of advanced technology” and the “sharing economy concept in distribution” may address the issue.

 Firstly, about active use of advanced technology, I can say sooner or later, self-driving trucks will be running in a column on local roads. Experiments are now being conducted to confirm safety. A drone, a powered suit or a robot suit will mitigate workman’s load. At distribution centers, unmanned warehouses, autonomous transportation robot or unmanned forklifts will be actively used. By mitigating labor burden, the elderly or women might enter the labor market and solve the labor shortage issue.

 Secondly, regarding the “distribution version of sharing economy,” we are going to make maximum use of existing trucks and drivers. Joint delivery has already started across the country. Consolidation of cargo and passengers is one form of such sharing. It has been proposed to use shinkansen (super high-speed train) in Kyushu or north of Sendai where there are more surplus spaces, particularly for the transport of high value-added products.

 As for truck transportation, there are green number trucks for business use and white number trucks for private use. It is now prohibited to use white number trucks for paid transport. If these white number trucks can be used on the condition of securing safety in remote areas where there are fewer green number trucks, it has a high potential to support regional life and economy. If unmanned systems further advance, the distribution industry will shift from labor-intensive industry to device-industry. Companies which own trucks and drivers may be replaced by those which own a system to control self-driving trucks and they will dominate the distribution industry. I feel alarmed because if distribution is systematized into one platform that allows remote operation and autonomous control, the future of our industry may be controlled by global system companies, platformers or else totally new forces. Let me call your attention to the future of physical distribution industry as it will surely be exciting to observe all the changes that will unfold.