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Doing anything for more than 100 years is impressive. Running a business across several generations of stewardship, and surviving seismic social and economic changes, is nothing short of remarkable. Firms that exceed that significant milestone will all have taken different paths to get there, but often have several factors in common. From universities to electronics, textiles, transport infrastructure and industrial manufacturing, members of the “100-plus club” tend to share a strong foundation and a commitment to forward planning. While no business has one answer when it comes to the secret of their success, it’s no surprise that they are already planning for the next 100 years. That is certainly true for precision machining manufacturer Roku-Roku Sangyo Ltd. 

“It is important to have a market-in mindset and also embody the product-out mindset,” said President Mitsuru Kaito. “Our company has had a long history of over 100 years because we value both these aspects in parallel. I think it is important for our company not to expand too widely, but to instead set up the strategy to survive longer, for the next 100 years.” In the world of academia, long-term thinking means being in a constant state of evolution. “Since its founding in 1915, Yasuda Educational Foundation has consistently followed the educational principle of ‘tender yet firm spirit’ and has combined the traditions of women’s education to respond to the changes in the social environment and the needs of the local community,” said Toshio Seyama, president of Yasuda Women’s University. In addition to evolution, sometimes a little revolution can go a long way when it comes to educating the next generation. “I am a firm believer in the liberal arts, with this school boasting a history of 100 years of this type of education,” said Tokyo Woman’s Christian University President Anri Morimoto. “One hundred years ago, our school defied typical women’s education and instead aimed to nurture independent intellectuals to stand on their own.”

Similarly, R&D is often the key to prolonged success when it comes to industry. The status quo is rarely an option. Since its founding in 1914 in Osaka, Daimei Plastic Co., Ltd. has sought to lead the way in technology innovation and cutting-edge manufacturing. Daimei Plastic President Toru Yamaguchi enjoys the benefits of automated systems and AI, but insists that Japan’s monozukuri tradition of high standards and customer service must remain paramount. “I believe that we can cut out the tasks that are not necessarily dealt with by human beings, who can be responsible for more complex tasks that require thinking or management,” said Yamaguchi. 

“Our company has a track record of being an innovator. I do believe that monozukuri is a special expertise that is irreplaceable with AI.” Takuya Iwata, president of trading house Iwata Shokai Co., Ltd., agreed that long-term success of this kind is built on standards that cannot be compromised if that is to be maintained. “High quality is the advantage of Japanese manufacturing and Japanese companies. In Japan, the level of quality demanded by users is high and strict,” he said. “We pursue not only the quality of our products, but also the quality of our processes. In our 120 years of history, we have built the trust of our customers by creating a sustainable and stable business,” Iwata said. 

TANAX Inc. CEO Ippei Tanaka takes pride in his logistics and DX firm’s 116 year longevity. “Our endurance and style of ‘never giving up’ is one reason why we have been able to persist for so long. Our sales department, development teams, and clients all worktogether closely, which allows us to provide great experiences to the end consumer,” said Tanaka.

Kazuo Takahashi, the president of Japanese rail, transport, real estate and hospitality business Tokyu Corporation, said that following centenary celebrations last year, the firm is looking towards an exciting future. “We are almost out of the woods regarding the effects of the pandemic, so now it is time to rebuild our business sustainably so that we can grow in the future,” said Takahashi. “In a colloquial sense, we have currently passed the ‘hop’ and ‘step’ of our current business plan. However, now is the time for us to reach the ‘jump’ phase within the next five years.”

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