“Benefit self and benefit others, private and public interests are one and the same.”

  • # Sumitomo’s Business Philosophy
  • # Director-General
  • # CSR
Niihama Smelter in 1890 (photo courtesy of Sumitomo Historical Archives)

Jiri-rita, or “Benefit self and benefit others,” is a Buddhist expression that exhorts practitioners to “Receive the merit earned from Buddhist ascetic practices for oneself and for others.” Koushi-ichinyo, or “Private and public interests are one and the same,” succinctly expresses the notion that personal interest and public interest are not in conflict, but one and the same.

Sumitomo’s business “Must benefit the nation and society, and emphasize harmony with the public interest.” For instance, Saihei Hirose, the first Director-General of Sumitomo and architect of the “Besshi industrial revolution,” declared at the time, “I will devote myself to encouragement of new industry and share the benefits with tens of millions of people.” A nation’s wealth belongs to its people, not the government. Sumitomo must not only profit itself, but also share the benefits of industry with the nation’s citizens. Indeed, Hirose opened a smelter in Sobiraki, Niihama, at the foot of Mount Besshi overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, thus laying the foundation for Niihama’s development as an industrial center.

Teigo Iba, the second Director-General of Sumitomo, adopted the policy that “Sumitomo’s business must benefit the nation and society as well as Sumitomo itself,” and Masaya Suzuki, his successor, declared, “I will put virtue first, and profit second. I aim to gain profit through virtue.”

These convictions and principles remain evident in Sumitomo’s CSR activities today. The corporate posture of shouldering responsibility for business activities and endeavoring to benefit society has been handed down from generation to generation since the days of the Besshi Copper Mines.