Mitsui & Co. CEO says globalization should help to solve problems

Tatsuo Yasunaga, president and chief executive officer of Mitsui & Co. Photographer: Akio Kon/ Bloomberg Tatsuo Yasunaga, president and chief executive officer of Mitsui & Co. Photographer: Akio Kon/ Bloomberg

Corporations going global should help to develop the countries they operate in and improve people’s lives, said Tatsuo Yasunaga, president and chief executive of Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co.

“By helping solve such problems as widening income gaps and poverty, emerging countries will get to realize the real value of globalization,”

…he told a conference jointly held on Thursday by The Nikkei and Financial Times. He raised concerns that some emerging countries hold a grudge against global free-market standards created by the West that seem to bring only negative effects, like income disparity and concentrated wealth.

Mitsui & Co. has tried to help solve these problems in its global expansion.

In Mozambique, for example, it is jointly developing one of the largest gas fields in the world with a state-owned oil company. The field is expected to drive the country’s economic development. Mitsui & Co. has also invested in the Moatize mine, developed by its Brazilian partner Vale. It also has its hands in railway, port and other infrastructure projects.

The Moatize Coal Mine in Mozambique
The Moatize Coal Mine in Mozambique

Outside Mozambique, Mitsui & Co. has invested in hospitals in countries such as India, Malaysia and Turkey. It is helping to get high-speed mobile telecommunication networks built in Uganda, Ghana and other African nations.

These kinds of projects can improve people’s lives and, in turn, allow emerging countries to feel the positive effects of globalization.

Developing talent is also essential if a corporation is to sustain itself globally. “Business nowadays has become larger in size and more complex,” Yasunaga said. “And we need to bring together various people’s various abilities.”

In this sense, he said the ability of letting in and tolerating one another’s differences becomes important. He touched upon the Japanese national team in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, praising how a team with players of different nationalities and backgrounds came together as one.

Some 40,000 of Mitsui & Co.’s entire workforce of 47,000 are non-Japanese. Many of its foreign affiliates are managed by locally hired talent. Yasunaga said he will work on a human resource system that can further mobilize these employees and their skills according to the globe’s fast-changing business environment.

He also said Japan as a country should learn that globalization means more than simply going abroad. “Japan should try to open up more to the world,” he said. For example, the country should not only be providing knowledge workers to the world but also be able to accept more from other countries. He suggested that the country come up with a system which enables longer-term stays.

Yasunaga also called on Japanese corporations striving to preserve their Japanese style to switch mindsets. “We should walk away from such a conservative way of thinking,” he said, “and think forward on how we can improve the global standards created by the West.”

Source: Nikkei Asian Review