Happy New Year to everyone in the NAGASE Group. Although it was a short holiday break, I hope everyone had relaxed time to prepare for the new year with refreshed mind and good health. I wish all of you and the world peace, good health, and prosperity for 2018.

As many of you are aware, NAGASE Group earnings last year outpaced far beyond the original plan. FY2017 sales and profits will reach historically the highest. This success can be partially attributed to external factors, including economic conditions and foreign currency exchange rate. However, I have no doubt that this comes mainly from the strong commitment to the result and the dedication of everyone from the world-wide NAGASE Group. I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone of all the business segment, administrative department, overseas subsidiary, and affiliated company. Thank you.

When we look back the global situation of last year, the dignity and compliance of nations, companies, and individuals were more highlighted. However, we need to take those cases by other companies seriously to make sure our business and compliance. Although we are in good situation for business, now we need to remind ourselves of adherence to NAGASE Management Philosophy, maintaining the highest standard of integrity.

On top of that, we must also be focused on ESG/Environment, Social and Governance initiative which the shareholders, markets, and investors have newly required to the company. Please keep in your mind that this is a starting year to think about how we can contribute to the society.

Secondly, I would like to talk about ACE-2020. Two years of ACE-2020 will have passed soon. Do you clearly recognize what you and your organization should do this year to achieve your ACE-2020 targets? Do you have a clear picture in your mind of what you must do?

ACE-2020 consists of the two basic policies, Reform of Profit Structure and Reform of Corporate Culture.  Your organization has also each measure align with these policies and already executed such measure for the past two years. I think you have recognized the good result in some areas, but some measures might not have worked well in other areas.

The most important thing is the PDCA cycle.  Two years have passed, now that it’s time to check/review what you originally planned, how timely you took action pursuant to the plan, and how the result is. Then if necessary, you may have to revise your original plan.  It is very important that everyone participates in this review process and shares the outcome from the review process. Thus, I want all of you to gear up for the second half of ACE-2020 with updated and substantial plan.

I am sure that we now see better permeation of ACE-2020 mind as the group and new strategic actions such as the acquisition of Fitz Chem in USA and DAITAI KAKO in Osaka, Japan have already realized the profit growth of the group. Several issues remain, however, as I observed the delay of the planned action and the slow progress of efficient management in several organizations.

As I have mentioned many times, even if our current business is going well and we focus on such current business, our growth will become slow and we will eventually deteriorate. In our 185 years history, NAGASE has started up new business by replacing the outdated business. I want to stress again that it’s our crucial task to Identify, Develop, and Expand new business by executing the strategic measure and responding to the ever changing environment.

ACE-2020 is the first and reformation stage of our Long term Management Plan towards our 200th anniversary which is 14 years from now. As a whole, I am certain that we are moving to the right direction. But we are still in the middle of the way. I urge you to execute your strategic measure with strong mind set and commitment.

In the past, I asked you to embody ONE STEP FORWARD and SPEED-UP as key phrases. This year, I would like to emphasize RAISE THE BAR.

I want this phrase to encourage you to seek more ambitious goal and aim higher. I want you to think about reaching the next level  in your daily work, expanding your business scope. I hope you will take the opportunity to embody this idea in various ways and situations.

Same as last year, I plan to visit many NAGASE locations in Japan and around the world this year, too. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with your ideas and opinions.

Lastly, I want to extend my best wishes for a healthy and happy 2018 to everyone in the NAGASE Group and their families.