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The 45th Annual General Assembly of Kansai Economic Federation(Kankeiren)

Inaugural Address of Chairman Shimozuma

My name is Hiroshi Shimozuma and I have been appointed Chairman of Kansai Economic Federation(Kankeiren) on the recommendation of its Board of Directors.

Last year we commemorated the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Kankeiren. Since its foundation, both Japan and Kansai have confronted many difficulties: a period of post-war devastation followed by reconstruction; transition from high economic growth to low economic growth; the "bubble" economy and its burst, and then the so-called "lost decade." However, thanks to the exceptional efforts and hard work of our predecessors and senior members, we have brilliantly succeeded each time in overcoming these difficulties.

The world is currently in a rare situation of simultaneous prosperity. On the other hand, both within Japan and overseas, there are as ever a mountain of critical issues: inter-ethnic and inter-regional disputes and the nuclear threat, the global environmental problem, global scale mergers and acquisitions, and the enormous financial deficits of national and local governments. These are also harsh times because of intensified international and inter-regional competition, and both the public and private sectors, and even local communities which combine public and private, are immediately losers if they fail to reform and misread contemporary trends.

Under these circumstances I feel overwhelmed and privileged at being appointed to the important post of Chairman of Kankeiren, with all the responsibility that goes with it. Though I have little to offer by way of learning, talent or ability, I am determined to exert myself whole-heartedly and to the maximum of my ability, without ever sullying the history and tradition built up by all my predecessors, for the sake of Kansai and consequently for the sake of Japan and the world. I would ask you for your continued support and cooperation.

During his time in office, our previous Chairman, Mr. Akiyama, devoted himself physically and mentally to the revitalization and development of Kansai and the strengthening of our industrial competitiveness.

He has a number of successes redounding to his credit: implementing the second phase of the Kansai International Airport project and the opening this summer of the second runway, promoting the redevelopment of the Osaka Station North District, and encouraging culture and tourism, advancing decentralization of authority and proposing policies relating to tax and fiscal reforms, not to mention international exchanges with foreign economies including Asia, Europe and the U.S. He has displayed strong leadership in the regeneration of the Kansai economy in this extremely critical situation. Now it is no exaggeration to say that the Kansai economy is the driving force behind Japan's economic expansion. I wish to express my deepest respect and gratitude to our previous Chairman, Mr. Akiyama, for his unprecedented achievements, and to ask him to continue, from a broad perspective, to provide support and encouragement in the future as an Executive Advisor of Kankeiren.

As you may know, there is over-concentration on Tokyo in many areas, political, administrative and economic, and even information itself is also monopolized by Tokyo. Kansai's insufficiency of access to information leads to our weakness as a transmitter and receiver of information. I fear that Kansai's weakness as an information hub may be the biggest obstacle to the implementation of various projects and policy proposals.

I believe that it is extremely important to strengthen Kansai's ability to receive and transmit information. To achieve this I want to devise measures which will bring more people, projects, and information from the world to Kansai, and to take methods of creating added value to these collected information, forming a virtuous circle in which, because the information, technology, culture and policies sent out by Kansai are more valuable, more valuable information from the rest of Japan and overseas will come in, giving rise in turn to further transmission of information from Kansai. In this connection, I believe we will need to introduce some interactive programs which will contribute to the strengthening of our relationship with other Asian countries with which we are so deeply connected historically, geographically and economically. It is my firm conviction that such programs, looked at in the long term, will help to build a Kansai which is directly linked to Asia and the world, a Kansai which makes its presence felt, a Kansai which is trusted and loved.

Of course, I will positively tackle the issues of which Kankeiren is expected to take charge: dealing with matters related to company management, policy proposal, infrastructure development and industrial promotion, creating bustling, vigorous communities, promoting investment and trade, preserving the global environment, and encouraging international exchanges and international contributions. In addressing these issues, I will spare no effort in responding to the needs of all our members and the needs of the local and global communities. Since, for this, cooperation and sharing with other economic associations are vital, I ask for a special effort of understanding and cooperation by all concerned.

Furthermore, I want to clarify the objectives of our actions and the responsibilities for them and determine the relative importance of each action and its time schedule, and act under our principles of indirect support, improvement of business environments, and support for self-reliance. I also want to discuss once again, with everyone, Kankeiren's mission and role, our policy, and philosophy.

Fortunately, I can count on the cooperation of all the executive members including the twelve vice chairmen with their superlative discernment and ability to get things done, and the ten committee chairmen, as well as subcommittee chairmen, and committee vice chairmen. I hope that all our members including the executive members and all those connected with Kankeiren will give me their support, share their opinions and work up a sweat with me through hard work. I promise to do all in my power to give full scope to the abilities of all our members and to give full scope to the collective ability of Kankeiren.

I would draw your attention to our prospectus where we find that Kankeiren was established as an integrated research organ to encourage free creative ideas and lively activity among industrialists through their constant and close cooperation.

This is the real mission and policy of Kankeiren which I described earlier, the ideal which is still our guiding light today and which we must bear firmly in mind. Once again, recalling our starting point, I pledge to work tirelessly and to the limits of my ability for the development of Kankeiren. On this note, I will end my speech.
Thank you for your attention.

(Note) Extract from Kankeiren's prospectus
In pursuit of constant close cooperation and frank exchanges of views among all industrialists, we expect the establishment of an organ, based on a close comradely bond, which makes sufficient and rational considerations and puts them into action. In line with the above objective, economic associations, corporations and individuals from all over the Kansai region, in a body, have here resolved to establish this federation as an integrated research organ which will give important financial and economic issues meticulous and appropriate scientific consideration and encourage free creative ideas and lively activity among industrialists.

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