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Japan-Update

Time to think outside the camera box, Canon chief argues

Fujio Mitarai wants new businesses to generate nearly one-third of sales

TOKYO -- Canon aims to look beyond cameras and copiers to tap such new areas as factory equipment and health care for growth, Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai told The Nikkei on Friday.

Excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: How do you see earnings performing for the current fiscal year ending December 2018?

A: 2017 was a strong year for cameras, office equipment and other existing businesses. With the addition of new business segments like health care and industrial equipment, we have evidently boosted both sales and profit.

The business climate will improve further in 2018, and we aim to lift sales and profit for a second consecutive year.

Canon Chairman and CEO Fujio Mitarai

Q: How far is Canon in fulfilling its medium-term plan to 2020?

A: We aim to make at least 5 trillion yen ($44.1 billion) in consolidated sales. It is definitely not impossible if we maintain the current economic situation and stable exchange rates. I see cameras contributing over 30% and office equipment another 40%, while new business segments, with health care at the center, will account for the rest.

Q: Tell us about upcoming mergers and acquisitions.

A: In particular, we will implement M&As that will further strengthen areas where we've already made acquisitions. Future purchases will supplement the health care, security camera and industrial equipment segments, with no bias toward either hardware or software.

We will set aside 300 billion yen to 400 billion yen for this purpose through 2020.

Q: What is the biggest issue currently facing Canon?

A: Our primary management goal this year is to raise our antennas high toward cutting-edge technology. It is on this point where we lag behind other companies. We will open up a research and development center in the U.S.'s Silicon Valley, where we will actively adopt new technology.

Q: What do you believe is imperative for today's corporation?

A: To read the trends of an era. Innovation is steadily advancing, and it has become difficult to put out products that are ahead of the competition, even if by just a little. This is now an era when latecomer manufacturers stand to gain. Compared with the past, even I feel mounting tensions.

To stay on top of and not lose against generational innovations, it is important to strengthen the financial structure. I believe that, as a manufacturer, it is essential to always maintain a strong financial house, creating conditions where you can invest in new things.

(Nikkei)

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