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

A Panasonic fuel cell energy generation system.
 

Inhabitat: While we're confident that the people at Panasonic care about the environment, there is clearly also a business-related reason for the decision to focus on making greener goods. Do you feel that companies who are not shifting their focus towards sustainable products are missing the boat?

Tomita: I am not in the position to talk about the situation of other companies. However, speaking for Panasonic, we can say that for a company like ours it might not be possible to survive over the mid- to long-term without eco-responsible products or specific environmental initiatives.

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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