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Interview with the President
Inabata's “Fourth Foundation” is with a Spirit of “Love (ai)” and “Respect (kei)”

What was the significance to you of the company’s 120th anniversary?

A 120th anniversary is less of a milestone than a centennial, and may even seem like a minor event considering that some companies are hundreds of years old. However, it is still a major step toward our future. We have come this far only thanks to our trading partners and shareholders who have supported us, and to those who built Inabata's foundations. Now it is our responsibility not only to preserve the company's history and traditions, but to continue adding to them. I want to make this milestone of our 120th anniversary the first step in creating something new.

What kind of work have you been involved in during your 22 years at Inabata?

 I worked in a bank until I was 29, so I did not know much about trading firms when I joined the company. Initially I was assigned to the Chemicals Division section that dealt with the paint industry. At university I'd studied political science and economics, so I knew nothing at all about chemicals. I spent three months reading bulky paint handbooks and it was a particularly hard time. I felt relieved when I was eventually assigned to clients and could go out on sales calls.

After almost three years in that section, I was transferred to the Overseas Division, where I worked for two years. Our overseas business today is handled by the individual divisions, but in those days the Overseas Division took care of everything. Next I worked for a year and a half in Plastics Division III, then about two years in Plastics Division II, after which I became the executive officer in charge of the plastics divisions. After that, as the executive officer in charge of administrative divisions, I was involved in work related to personnel and general affairs and information systems, so I've had relatively wide experience working throughout the company.

How did you feel when you were appointed president?

I had rather mixed feelings. The former president passed away suddenly and I felt unprepared to take on such an important task.

The former president had quickly noticed the trend toward stricter requirements for transparency and disclosure as a public company, and he had improved our PR and IR efforts. As his successor, I decided to continue where he left off. I believed it was essential to have a system that could withstand disclosure, to strengthen internal controls. At that time, Inabata’s overseas business was rapidly expanding thanks to a favorable global business climate. To support this momentum I felt we needed to strengthen our organizational structure. Frankly, in the beginning my main aim was simply to follow the path laid out by my predecessor.

But I was also aware that in a period of rapid expansion and change we needed to strengthen our organization, and at some point I wanted to work on that.

What do you think are Inabata’s strengths?

First of all, a hands-on approach has become part of the company's culture. Before proposing an idea, we first go out into the field to directly confirm the situation. This keeps our feet firmly planted in reality.

Next, I'm always impressed by the quality of our employees and how nice they are. As a result, they are usually well liked by our clients. It also allows them to gather high-quality information.

Also, in our organization everyone feels they can talk frankly to each other. I can't emphasize enough how important this is. When I first joined the company and went out for a drink with colleagues, the conversation always seemed to turn to work. I remember thinking how refreshing it was that young employees passionately discussed how the company should change, without complaining or grumbling. But it takes continual effort to maintain such an open environment.

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