This March, I assumed the position of CEO of Bridgestone Corporation. Going forward, I will be working together with the COO and Chairman of the Board to further accelerate the management reforms we have been pursuing so that we can accomplish our ultimate management goal of being "the undisputed World No.1 tire and rubber company in both name and reality."
Once again, I would like to express my deepest condolences to all those who lost loved ones or were otherwise affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. I wish for a quick and peaceful recovery.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, Bridgestone Group embraced the social mission of offering reconstruction assistance to disaster-stricken areas and launched a series of aid efforts. For more information about these ongoing efforts, please see "Aiding in the Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake".
Going forward, the Group will continue to pursue potential actions, bring to bear its organizational capabilities and resources, and offer support to the recovery and reconstruction.
Under a rapidly changing business environment, we have implemented this new management alignment as the best way to position the company for optimum management on a group and global basis in the face of the speed and scope of change, and to reinforce the company's focus on corporate governance.
To that end, we built this new management structure separating management responsibilities and execution responsibilities, clearly defining responsibilities among Chairman of the Board, CEO, and COO positions. The CEO is responsible for corporate strategy and general management, while the COO has responsibility for overall daily operations. The Chairman has no direct operational responsibilities; however he must work as a facilitator between management and the Board of Directors, ensuring effective governance and oversight of the corporation by the Board. This new structure defines an explicit array of management and operational roles, while enhancing functions of checks and balances like the separation of the three government powers.
After viewing the outstanding results of this new management organization in the Americas two years ago, we found them to be highly effective. The structure was implemented in European operations effective January 1 of this year, and we at Bridgestone Corporation in Japan followed suit in March 2012. By enhancing the organization's management efficiency and accelerating business reforms, we will respond quickly to social changes and create new values.
The Bridgestone Group is characterized by not only the horizontal expansion of its global operations, but also the vertical expansion of the supply chain that extends from the natural rubber farms that lie upstream to the sales channel network downstream. Vertical expansion confers one of the Group's most important competitive advantages by fostering innovation through the utilization of knowledge and expertise at all stages of its operations.
For example, tires with run-flat technology help lower the environmental impact while offering customers a superior level of safety and peace of mind. Similarly, our solutions businesses use of the retread process for trucks and buses serves to significantly reduce resource consumption. Each of these businesses is operated globally, and each is a manifestation of the strengths that accrue from horizontal and vertical expansion.
We are also involved in the development of revolutionary technology that would reduce by half the volume of raw materials used in tire manufacturing through the Half-weight Concept Tire. In this way, the Group will continue to bring its various and unique assets to bear to resolve social issues globally.
The Bridgestone Group has identified 22 CSR Focus Points to pursue consistent, steadfast CSR activities on a Group and global basis. These 22 Focus Points serve as a common language for the Group's CSR initiatives. Group “instructions” are issued to embody specific objectives, policy directions, and approaches for each Focus Point under the PDCA cycle ("plan," "do," "check," and "act"). During 2011, we sought to enhance this cycle through a system of self-assessments by which Group companies reviewed their own progress. In this way, we were able to clarify which actions have already been taken and which need to be pursued in the future. We will continue to strengthen activities on a Group and global basis.
We also refined the Corporate Philosophy in 2011 by explicitly identifying our mission of “Serving Society with Superior Quality,” the company credo expressed by Bridgestone's founder. Also in order to fulfill this mission, Bridgestone Group has used the concept of “foundation” to demonstrate the sustained commitment of employees. Our belief that CSR is both an integral part of management and the realization of the Bridgestone Essence remains unchanged.
As the world's largest tire and rubber company, we recognize that the Group's initiatives have a significant impact on the Earth's environment. We pursue environmental activities with the ultimate goal of achieving a sustainable society by realizing three important environmental perspectives: ecological conservation, resource conservation, and reducing carbon emissions.
In May 2012, we announced a long-term environmental vision for 2050 and beyond: achieving "100% sustainable materials," contributing to the globally-agreed target (reducing CO2 emissions by at least 50%) as a means of combating climate change, and existing in balance with nature.
The Bridgestone group has grown by providing advanced, high-quality products that play an essential role in mobility to customers around the world. Going forward, we will strive to contribute to a sustainable society and help ensure a healthy environment for current and future generations.
CEO and Representative Board Member