Auteur: Philip Sandoz
Global responsibilities and local decisions
CANON is much more than simply a worldwide camera and office equipment developer and manufacturer. With a turnover of more than US$22 billion, over 75,000 employees worldwide, almost half of whom are outside Japan, and an export ratio of almost four to one, Canon can be said to be unique amongst Japanese giants. The company does not belong to any zaibatsu (industrial—financial combine), unlike Mitsubishi, Mitsui and almost every other well-known Japanese company, does not hire on an old-school-tie basis, refuses to back any Japanese political party and insists on meeting the world's highest environmental standards at all its plants — from California to China.
This study of Canon traces how the company started with nothing but a dream of bettering pre-war German camera manufacturers, growing from obscurity to the largest winner of patents worldwide. But this was not a straightforward process. In 1975, as a result of the post-oil-shock crisis and unregulated global expansion, for the first and last time in its history Canon did not pay a shareholders' dividend. A secret meeting of the board of directors in a Tokyo hotel Set the scene for a technical, financial and philosophical turnaround unparalleled in Japan or elsewhere.
Under the leadership of Chairman Ryuzaburo Kaku - a Nagasaki atom bomb survivor - and President Fujio Mitarai - who lived in the United States for twenty-three years - Canon is facing the rigours of staying in the front line of rapidly advancing technologies, remaining innovative and continuing to produce award-winning and successful products through its own creativity and a series of strategic industrial partnerships, worldwide commitment to R&D, and what the company describes as global-localization.
For Canon employees worldwide, Chairman Kaku's philosophy of kyosei (living and working together for the common good) is more than a slogan, it is a fiercely promoted concept that, under the leadership of President Mitarai, will bring Canon profitably and morally into the next century - and will ultimately be seen as a guide to other companies.