President's Message at the 2016 New Employees' Initiation Ceremony

April 1, 2016

Good morning. I am Masahiro Okafuji, President & CEO of ITOCHU Corporation.
Today, I am very happy to welcome 152 new colleagues to our Company: 141 of you in career positions and 11 in clerical positions. This year’s recruitment again revealed that very many people aspired to join ITOCHU Corporation, and submitted their applications. Each of you has superbly cleared the major hurdles of stiff competition in being selected to join ITOCHU.

I’m sure that 2016 will be a year that you will remember for the rest of your life. But it looks like this will also be a historic year for ITOCHU. Based on our earnings for fiscal 2016, which will be announced soon, ITOCHU expects to attain its long-standing goal of clinching the No.1 spot among sogo shosha in terms of consolidated net income. When ITOCHU becomes the top sogo shosha, people will change the way they see us. I hope you are proud to be the first year of recruits in an ITOCHU that has become No.1. I’d like you to relish the joy and responsibility of this standing as you listen to my speech. And as you start your career as an ITOCHU employee, along with offering my congratulations, I’d like to give you two pieces of advice that I urge you to put into practice immediately.

The first point I’d like to share with you is “the secret to starting your life as a working adult smoothly.” ITOCHU is an expansive and open-minded company. You will be given opportunities to tackle many different challenges even in the early years of your career. However, although each employee is granted a significant amount of discretion, they must also bear considerable responsibility. Starting today, every one of you will be seen by those outside the Company as a representative of ITOCHU. If you put off or forget to do what you have been told, you will break promises and miss deadlines, losing the trust of those around you along the way. If you even once give customers, supervisors, or colleagues the impression that you are unreliable, you will face setbacks right from the start. Rather than thinking that it suffices to finish tasks assigned by customers or your supervisor by deadlines, I urge you to make a point of getting everything done as quickly as possible. At first, you may find that you are unable to perform tasks well or that you get muddled results. However, people around you are often paying closer attention to your approach rather than the good and bad points of your work. By thoroughly completing each assignment and building a solid track record, you will be able to win the trust of customers and colleagues. Above all, the sense of accomplishment you gain from successfully completing assignments will give you confidence and help to spur growth further.

My second point is to “become a professional in your assigned field.” I believe all of you have many different aspirations for your careers at ITOCHU, and hold them close to your hearts as you attend this ceremony. However, within the first two or three years after joining the Company, you will inevitably struggle with the gap between your aspirations and reality. You may find that your assigned workplace or job is not what you expected or start to think the Company is not a good match for you. That is normal. All of us have run into this “wall” at least once in our careers, myself included. But don’t get trapped. Rather, I hope you will find calm and composure by reminding yourself that this is the “wall” the president mentioned. Oftentimes in these situations, you are likely to lose sight of the essence of your work, overthink things based on half-baked information and see things from a very narrow perspective. I urge you to wholeheartedly devote yourself to performing the tasks of your assigned position to the best of your ability, without distraction. When professional baseball players fall into a slump, they usually get out of their rut by single-mindedly practicing their swing over and over again without thinking about anything else. If you keep turning things over in your mind, you will only dig yourself a deeper hole. If you strive for perfection, you will gain the trust of your colleagues and be recognized as the “go-to” person in your specialty. This will help to broaden your work horizons, as well as your knowledge and experience, even further. Before you know it, you will have obtained the abilities to act and judge as befits an ITOCHU person—someone who pioneers new businesses against all odds. At that time, I’m confident you will see things entirely differently than you did when you were in a slump.

All of you have been gathered here today because you are expected to possess the merchant spirit of ITOCHU, a mercenary band that constantly pioneers the future. ITOCHU’s prospects for making dramatic strides in the future will depend on your performance. Let’s work together to create a new era. I hope that you are confident and proud of the fact that you were chosen to be here and that you will demonstrate your abilities to the fullest extent possible.

Once again, I welcome you and congratulate you on joining ITOCHU Corporation!