The pursuit of social value, like the pursuit of economic value, is absolutely essential for a company to achieve sustained growth.
As a key element of Sumitomo's philosophy, this is an idea that has been passed down through the generations throughout Sumitomo's 400 years of 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.
Accelerating the Development of Our Business in Europe and North America 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 with the aim of uniting all of our employees around a shared strong desire to contribute to society for future generations by actively taking on New Challenges.
At the same time, we have also defined three key Growth Engines to serve as 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 October of 2015, we dissolved our longstanding Global Alliance with the Goodyear Rubber & Tire Company. This resulted in the lifting of various restrictions that had been placed on our business activities in Europe and North America under the terms of the alliance, giving us the freedom to conduct R&D and manufacturing in these regions and thus allowing us the flexibility to develop our global business more proactively. Adding the subheading "Business Expansion in Europe and North America" to our "Challenges of New Markets" Growth Engine, we will continue working to further promote the global proliferation of environmentally friendly fuel-efficient tires-one of our group's major strong suits. At the same time, we will also continue to expand our business in growth markets, especially those in developing countries-as originally envisioned when we conceived the "Challenges of New Markets" Growth Engine-where we will strive to maintain harmonious coexistence with local communities by contributing to their growth through extensive local hiring, striving to reduce our impact on local environments and so forth.
Embracing the "Insatiable Drive for Innovation" That Brought Us "ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN"
Thanks to our efforts under our "Insatiable Drive for Innovation" Growth Engine, in 2015 we completed the development of ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN, a breakthrough new materials development technology that brings together the full capabilities of some of the most cutting-edge experimental facilities in all of Japan, including the world-class K computer. Not stopping there, we have continued actively working to develop outstanding products using ADVANCED 4D NANO DESIGN and our other proprietary technologies, such as our groundbreaking NEO-T01 next-generation tire production system.
Furthermore, we have also been moving forward with efforts to promote the greater utilization of sustainable natural resources as a means of reducing the usage of petroleum and other finite fossil resources. In particular, having made numerous advances in biomass technology while developing ENASAVE 100, the world's first* 100% fossil resource-free tires made entirely from all-natural materials, we are now working to further enhance our proprietary biomass technology so as to develop new high-performance biomass materials. We are planning to begin releasing products that incorporate the first generation of high-performance biomass materials in 2016 and will continue working to provide new value in terms of safety, comfort and environmental performance through the development of unique and innovative rubber technologies in the future.
When it comes to "Entering New Business Fields," we are especially focusing our efforts on expanding our Healthcare Business. Having acquired and taken over the operations of 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.
* Since the use of synthetic rubber became standard in the tire industry (based on our own in-house research).
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 where all employees feel a strong sense of purpose and where they can encourage one another to do their best and set the bar higher together in a workplace that has a free and open atmosphere.
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 protection, 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 true 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 contribute widely 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.