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

A few of the materials that are harvested from old electronics and recycled at PETEC.
 

Inhabitat: How has the Japanese consumer market reacted to energy-saving products? Are they receptive?

Tomita: Energy-saving products are well accepted in the Japanese market. The energy-saving function is very easy for consumers in Japan to understand and they can see a benefit since it will permit them to save on the cost of energy in their households. Often when a new technology is applied, consumers know that there will some sort of higher initial cost, but if consumers see that the additional cost would be offset by the reduction in the running costs over the long run, they will start to make the purchase. There are many such well-informed consumers in Japan.

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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