July 19, 2011

Financing Japan's Revival

Sixteen Years ago, A magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the Japanese city of Kobe. Operations at its damaged port came to a standstill. Despite the best efforts of the government, it took more than six months before repairs were completed.

In the interim, some of the cargo ships that had previously called at Kobe were diverted to Kaohsiung in Taiwan or Busan in Korea. Today, the port of Kobe is open for business, but freight volume remains at half the pre-crisis level. 
I approached to Yasuhiro Sato, President and CEO of Mizuho Corporation Bank and Mizuho Financial Group, the corporate banking arm and holding company of the whole group, respectively. He told me "When the supply chain is cut, you have to restore it as fast as possible. Otherwise Global companies will seek out alternative suppliers of parts, regardless of quality or price." 
That explains why Sato's current focus is persuading Japan's Central and local governments - as well as the many blue chip Japanese Companies with which Mizuho Corporate Bank has relationships - not only to pour resources into the region devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, but also to do it quickly. Speed is the determining factor in retaining a place in the global supply chain.

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