Gallery: INTERVIEW: Inhabitat Talks to Panasonic’s Katsumi Tomita About...

 
Last month, we brought you news about Panasonic's decision to completely revamp their company to focus on one goal: becoming the number one green innovation company in the electronics industry. While it's very clear to us (since we write about it on a daily basis) that sustainability makes good business sense, we were very interested to hear about what inspired Panasonic, one of the largest electronics companies in the world, to make such a drastic change. To get a little insight into the thought process that went into the decision as well as what Panasonic is hoping going green will do for its bottom line, we spoke to Katsumi Tomita, manager of the company's Corporate Environmental Affairs Division's communication team. Read on to learn more about how Panasonic intends to reach their ambitious goal, the progress they are making currently and how Japanese consumers have responded thus far to the company's eco products.

Inhabitat: Can you tell us a little bit about your role at Panasonic?

Tomita: My title is Manager of the Communication Team in Corporate Environmental Affairs Division, Environmental Planning Group. My role in this organization is to communicate about Panasonic’s corporate environmental affairs initiatives outside the company through trade shows and other public forums, the Internet, environmental reports and more.

Inhabitat: Last month, you outlined for us Panasonic’s 100th anniversary vision to become the number 1 green innovation company in the electronics industry by 2018. When and why did your company decide to make that its #1 goal?

Tomita: This company vision was decided and announced officially by our president, Mr. Fumio Ohtsubo in January 2010. Global environmental issues, including global warming, are problems of great urgency. As a responsible corporate member of society, Panasonic regards these matters as extremely important. The company’s future growth will be achieved in line with what we can contribute to the environment.

Inhabitat: Panasonic is a gigantic company with many resources available to it. However, shifting the entire focus of a corporation and the mindsets of 366,937 employees is a humongous undertaking. Was there some kind of financial analysis done assessing what kinds of future benefits turning the company towards a greener focus would have before it was decided or was it obvious to management that green products were the wave of the future and therefore the best possible decision?

Tomita: In the effort to achieve a sustainable society, any company that is not prioritizing environmental initiatives will not survive. Panasonic decided to place environmental factors at the core of all of our corporate activities. My division, Corporate Environmental Affairs Division, has not been directly involved in the financial analyses; such analyses would be the function of our corporate planners. However, the decision to pursue this vision was made at the very highest levels by Mr. Ohtsubo.

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