The pursuit of social value, like the pursuit of economic value, is absolutely essential for a company to achieve sustained growth. As a core element of Sumitomo's philosophy, this is an idea that has been passed down from one generation to the next throughout Sumitomo's 400-year history.
By continually providing "The World's Best Value" for all of our stakeholders, the Sumitomo Rubber Group aims to always be a corporate group that achieves sustained growth while at the same time contributing to the development of a sustainable society.
Strengthening Our Global Management System toward the Accomplishment of Our Long-Term Vision-VISION 2020
VISION 2020 is the Sumitomo Rubber Group's Long-Term Vision, reflecting our corporate stance as we simultaneously pursue both economic and social value under our stated goals of "Becoming a True Global Player with High Profits and High Growth" and "Pursuing Enhanced Value for All Stakeholders and Greater Happiness for All Employees." Toward the accomplishment of these goals, we have chosen "Go for NEXT" as our rallying slogan for VISION 2020 in the hope that it will unite all of our employees around a shared, strong desire to contribute to society for future generations by actively taking on New Challenges. In addition to this slogan, we have also defined three key Growth Engines to serve as the pillars supporting our overall efforts to take on various New Challenges: the "Challenges of New Markets," an "Insatiable Drive for Innovation" and "Entering New Business Fields."
In April of 2016, the Sumitomo Rubber Group overhauled our global management structure, transitioning away from our previous system, which had revolved entirely around our headquarters in Japan, to a new "Trilateral System" based around three regional headquarters: our Asia/Pacific HQ, our Europe/Africa HQ and our Americas HQ. Moving forward, our Global Head Office in Japan will provide backing and support to our new regional headquarters as they operate with a greater degree of autonomy. We believe that this shift will enable us to strengthen our global management system by greatly enhancing the speed of our decision-making process, thus preparing the way for our group to take our next big step forward.
As part of our efforts to take on the "Challenges of New Markets," we are pushing forward with rapid business expansion in developing countries and other growth markets while also striving to promote harmonious coexistence with local communities through expanded local recruiting and job creation, reducing the environmental impact of our operations and so forth.
Embracing Our "Insatiable Drive for Innovation" to Provide New Value in Terms of Safety, Comfort and the Environment
In keeping with our "Insatiable Drive for Innovation," we have been actively engaged in research and development activities that aim to answer the question of "What can tires contribute to the global environment?" with a focus on three key areas of environmentally friendly product development-Fuel Efficiency, Raw Materials and Resource Savings. We will continue to provide products that respond to these diverse and complex needs with such advanced technologies as our "ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN," which combines some of the world's most cutting-edge research facilities and applies them to the task of developing innovative new materials, and our "High-Performance Biomass Materials Development," through which we are promoting the use of environmentally friendly, all-nature resources.
At the same time, we are also devoting considerable effort to researching and improving natural rubber itself. Thanks to these efforts, we have succeeded in shedding light on natural rubber's biosynthetic mechanism, a breakthrough discovery that may very well lead to the development of new technologies that will help ensure a more stable supply of natural rubber.
In this way, the Sumitomo Rubber Group will continue working to provide new value in terms of Safety, Comfort and Environmental performance through our ongoing efforts to develop unique and innovative rubber technologies.
When it comes to "Entering New Business Fields," we are focusing our efforts on expanding our Healthcare Business. In particular, having acquired a Swiss manufacturer of medical rubber parts in January of 2015, we are now taking advantage of the High Quality and High Performance that we have cultivated on the Japanese market to deliver safety and peace of mind to medical and caregiving facilities throughout the world.
Contributing to the Creation of a Sustainable Society by Striving to Be a Truly Valuable Company with a Strong Sense of Purpose
In order for a company to continue to grow and develop, that company must continually earn and maintain the trust of society by not only fulfilling its social responsibilities as a corporate citizen, but also through active contributions to the development of a sustainable society. This is one of the reasons why we have established the SRI WAY, which defines the specific Values and Principles for Action that we wish for all of our employees to practice and exemplify as they go about their day-to-day work. It is also the reason why we strive to engender a corporate culture in which all employees feel a strong sense of purpose while creating workplaces with a free and open atmosphere, where employees can encourage one another to do their best and set the bar higher together.
Further, guided by our Basic CSR Philosophy and our CSR Guidelines as encompassed in the acronym "GENKI," as well as our CSR Message-"For You, For the Earth"-we are not only working to fulfill our various social responsibilities in terms of compliance and environmental preservation, but are also actively applying our advanced technical research and development capabilities toward solving society's problems and contributing to global progress with an eye toward the next generation. At the same time, we are also striving to develop products with an emphasis on customer safety and comfort while pursuing ever higher levels of product quality and economy, as well as enhancing the soundness and transparency of our management so that we may maintain our integrity and continue to be a reliable corporate group for all of our stakeholders.
In order to continue being a corporate group that provides real value for people, for communities and for society now and in the future, the Sumitomo Rubber Group will continue to reinforce the foundation of our business and strengthen our group's horizontal and vertical connections in order to build a strong organization that can withstand the changes of the times as we continue to make extensive contributions to the creation of a sustainable society.
On behalf of the Sumitomo Rubber Group, I sincerely hope for and look forward to everyone's continued guidance and support. In addition, I wish to say that we would very much appreciate your candid thoughts and opinions with regard to this year's CSR Report.