Canon delighting you for the common good

(No.11, Vol.4,Dec 2014 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

Arriving early to interview Mr Noriji Yoshida, President and CEO of Canon Marketing (Vietnam), the main sponsor of this magazine’s Photo Awards competition for the third year and being allowed to linger a little in the reception area provided two benefits.
Firstly, I was intrigued by a framed notice board which expounded the company's philosophy. Canon seriously adheres to the Japanese concept of ‘kyosei.’ Simply put, this means ‘living and working together for the common good.’ The board explains that Canon takes this further than simple good neighbourliness. As an international company, it strives both to get all peoples to act together harmoniously and to address the imbalances that exist in our world. Applying kyosei is the way for Canon to do this. These ideas were referred to over and over again in our conversation.
The second thing that impressed me was a display of Canon products. Wide-ranging, it drove home the fact that Canon produces, in addition to high-precision and durable cameras, scanners and printers both for commercial and personal use. Mr Yoshida was at pains to point out to me that just as oil companies now consider themselves in the energy business, Canon, established as a camera company in 1937, now considers itself a ‘total imaging solutions company’.
Arriving on the dot, just as I have witnessed Japanese trains invariably do, and not overly dressed in a gleaming white shirt and bright red tie, accompanied by his young Vietnamese secretary, who in contrast, was hobbling due to an unfortunate motor bicycle accident, Mr Yoshida bounded into the interview room and shook my hand with enthusiasm and energy. I found that he looked much younger than his years. I was able to estimate his age as he told me he had joined Canon on leaving university thirty years previous. Soon, it was clear he had an excellent command of the English language, gained in part due to long stints in Australia and the U.S.A
Canon is a well-established, renowned household name. Vietnam Heritage Magazine is small and not yet five years old. It is wonderful and amazing to have Canon as a partner. My first question to Mr Yoshida was what criteria do they apply when considering a sponsorship proposal? ‘By and large-rejection’, he replied, in only half-jest. ‘People naturally are always asking us for money’. His secretary added that she has dealt with around a thousand applications. I was amazed to learn that Canon came to Vietnam Heritage and not the other way around. Mr Yoshida informed me he had read our magazine and he had been impressed by the high quality of our photographs. He went on to say that among the rejected applications many are for photo competitions. As for criteria, the main principle is not just giving money. Does the activity involve the active participation of people? Is the outcome that people are coming away with their lives enriched from a project? As for people, Canon targets in particular the young and disadvantaged. Mr Yoshida had himself just returned from projects in the poor but very photogenic northern provinces of Lao Cai and Yen Bai, involving children in the photographic art.
‘How important is Vietnam to Canon’? was my next poser. ‘Currently it accounts for two percent of the Asian market, but that figure is expected to double in just a few years’ came the reply. Both of us having long experience in Vietnam, we talked of how few Vietnamese had cameras twenty years ago and the ease of taking a snap compared with the days of film. ‘All the young people these days are taking photos by smart phone and the quality is improving all the time’, I said. Apart from remarking that is essential these days for cameras to link in with the cellular technology, Mr Yoshida did not seem to be unduly concerned with this development.
At the end of the interview, Mr Yoshida's secretary informed me of Canon's co-operation with our Photo Awards Competition again this year. As with last year, it is more than just donating exciting prizes. Canon's subsidiary ‘Osei European Printing Company’ will be providing the prints for the exhibition which will be held at The Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and which will subsequently tour the country. This year, the prints will be auctioned off and postcards of the selected photos are planned to be released.
Canon, with its kyosei philosophy, certainly knows the importance of the big picture. Canon, a truly global company, takes seriously the fulfilment of social responsibilities. It looks to the future with the noble goal of contributing to world prosperity and the well-being of mankind.

By Pip de Rouvray

By Pip de Rouvray
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