Message From thePresident

オーシャン貿易株式会社 代表取締役社長 米田多智夫

The Dawn of Reiwa

Reiwa has begun. While it would probably be more appropriate at the commencement of a new period such as this to start with our hearts filled with hopes and dreams, a critical condition persists, both politically and economically. While the US-China trade war – a cause of concern since last year – is maintaining a state of lull, the deceleration of the Chinese economy has become even more pronounced. I think the struggle between the two countries for dominance is far from over. Meanwhile, although Britain’s exit from the EU has finally become certain, the outlook for the UK economy after Brexit remains unclear, and difficult conditions are likely. International politics are also in further disarray. The North Korean threat of nuclear weapons and missiles has yet to be removed, and demonstrations continue in Hong Kong under the One Country Two Systems framework.

The Japanese economy, which is greatly affected by overseas situations, continues to alternate between hope and fear while still in a state of slow growth. According to the Bank of Japan’s Tankan quarterly survey released at the end of last year, there is worsened business confidence among leading manufacturers. Consumption-related indexes also marked a sizable drop across the board as a consequence of the consumption tax hike. The government’s monthly economic report also made a downward revision on the state of the economy, saying that weakness in production by the manufacturing industry has increased. A fall is also being seen in consumer spending and capital investment, which have been propping up the domestic economy. There is a heightened sense of uncertainty about the future.

To survive in this chaotic new period, companies require the capability to make appropriate readings of circumstances in addition to courage. Ocean Trading will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in two years, and I see a half century as being a major milestone in the existence of a company. It seems to me that we are now approaching a divide that will determine whether we can aim for further development and heights.

When the company was founded in 1973, it spent the first few years in the red. However, we intrepidly engaged in the import and export of marine products, fruit and vegetables, and fresh flowers as well as product development, and we have since maintained steady profits. Net sales in the year ended December 31, 2019, was 25.3 billion yen, marking an increase in both revenues and profits. In addition to our business with Japan’s largest retail group, in the second half of last year, we commenced direct business with one of the largest volume retailers in Southeast Asia, which contributed to our financial performance. The flagship products are marine products, such as the Arctic Circle-grown Aurora Salmon, but we are engaged in the challenge of diversifying the products that we handle. One such effort was flower production in Vietnam. Although we were amateurs in Vietnam, whether it was in construction or farming, we single-handedly succeeded in constructing a largescale horticultural facility in the country and spent 10 years getting it on track to the point that in November last year, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Vietnam and his party visited the facility and gave us the highest encouragement.

オーシャン貿易株式会社 代表取締役社長 米田多智夫

The cultivation of a new market and product development cannot be achieved overnight. Existing circumstances must be firmly understood while anticipating the future. That is why I considered what will determine the paradigm of the next 30 years, up to the mid-21st century.

The first is the environment. Global warming is causing rising sea levels and changes in amounts of rainfall and is expected to not only increase climatic extremes – flooding, droughts, heatwaves and typhoons – but also have a major impact on ecosystems, inflicting a serious blow on fisheries and agriculture. The 19th typhoon of 2019 (Typhoon Hagibis) caused extensive damage in the Kanto and Tohoku regions last October, yet it is only one example of the powerful typhoons and torrential rains that have been hitting Japan in recent years, and such abnormal weather is said to be caused by global warming. Our company is closely related to the fishery and agricultural industries as we handle food as our core products. That is why we must continually be sensitive to the environment. We have no choice but to be concerned about energy issues as well, since they are at times in direct conflict with the environment. Although I do not think that a single company can suddenly resolve challenges of a global scale, it is important that we remain aware of the issues.

The other keyword is information. The rapid advancement of the Internet and smartphones brought about an information society – something that had never before been experienced by humankind. It allows an instantaneous grasp of developments taking place in other parts of the world. On the other hand, it has been pointed out that the world wide web contains the risk of people being inundated and swallowed up by huge amounts of information. For a trading firm like ours, information is an important key that can make a difference between life and death for the company. However, unless we possess a capacity for accurate analysis and decision making, any massive amounts of information we may possess would have no other value than as accumulated information.

How then, are the capabilities for accurate analysis and decision making nurtured? Experience is, of course, needed, but just as important is a continual awareness of issues. Finally, of the utmost importance is imagination and a sensitivity that enables particular events and situations to be associated with business.

オーシャン貿易株式会社 代表取締役社長 米田多智夫

It is impossible for a single person to have all necessary capabilities. There must be experienced veterans as well as the young, with their superior sensitivities. Executives and top management must be capable of making daring decisions. It is when everyone makes a ceaseless effort toward self-improvement that individuals who can survive this difficult age will be created. Good results will come about if such individuals work together as a team, and our company will reward the efforts of employees who achieve such good results with even bolder benefit-sharing.

A company is, indeed “one team.” Toward the mid-21st century, we will firmly anticipate the paradigm, work together with our employees and trusted partners, and aim to reach further heights over the next 50 years to enable continuous growth of the company.

January 2020