Two years have passed since I became an external director at Shiseido, and during this time the Company has instituted major reforms and, at the same time, achieved a dramatic turnaround in its business results. As an external director, I have had numerous points of contact with Shiseido's management and operations, and I can say that everyone—from the leadership to the front-line employees—is working with a phenomenal sense of speed and urgency. Moreover, in regard to reforms, there is an extremely strong reformist mindset within the Company, which has helped resolve issues facing the Company through a cycle of discussion and action. As a result, in just a short period of time, Shiseido has achieved what an ordinary company could not have achieved in 10 years. I believe that this success is because of the determination of all employees to come together as a single force to improve Shiseido. That determination also includes contributing to progress for Japanese society as a whole through the Company's business activities.
The Board of Directors has also held discussions that have involved going back to the origins of Shiseido. Throughout its history of more than 100 years, what have Shiseido's real strengths been? At the same time, are there some areas in which Shiseido always considered itself strong but in which it has now actually been outdone and lags behind? With an awareness of such problems, we have held lengthy discussions, with no topics off limits, and examined what Shiseido should be like in the future.
Through my attendance and exchange of opinions at various gatherings besides meetings of the Board of Directors, I have reinforced my belief in the potential of Shiseido. Shiseido is not simply a company that manufactures cosmetics; it is a company that provides beauty to society at large and a company that realizes healthy, energetic lifestyles through beauty. Going forward, there are still a wide range of areas in which Shiseido can contribute, and the Company has the management resources to make that possible.
My expertise lies in marketing, medical care, and the healthcare sector, not in cosmetics. Therefore, I believe that my role as an external director is to bridge the gap between Shiseido, society, and consumers, providing a perspective on how the Company and its products are seen by the outside world, and on what direction the Company should take. The brands that Shiseido has built up over many years, and the corporate culture and concepts that lie behind them, are things that can be understood globally. I am confident that Shiseido will make further dramatic progress toward becoming a global company and that these invisible assets will then be put to great use.