Toshiba Chief Focuses on Environmental Technology
Akihiro Okada; Ayuhiko Sasaki, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
TOKYO -- Toshiba Corp. is looking to strengthen its nuclear power operations by setting up partnerships with other companies in the field of uranium fuel processing and the production of nuclear power plants, the company's president and chief executive officer, Atsutoshi Nishida, told The Yomiuri Shimbun in a recent interview.
Nishida, 64, indicated that Toshiba will concentrate on environmental technology, using fuel cells for computers and cell phones next year that generate electricity from the energy produced when hydrogen and oxygen are combined.
Q. Could you tell us about the new 10 trillion yen ($95 billion) sales target you announced for fiscal 2010 on May 8?
A. People say this is ambitious, but I don't think so. Social infrastructure operations, such as nuclear power generation, have to date been regarded as stable, but it's become a growth field to be competed for in the global market. I hope we can increase our overseas sales ratio from 52 percent to 60 percent over the next three years.
Q. While many companies are focusing on profits, can you explain why Toshiba is pursuing (an increase) in sales?
A. A major issue for Japanese firms in the future will be how they can grow in the global market. Moreover, if you define a commodity as "a product that competing companies have," 90 percent of our products are commodities in every respect. Even thermal power stations are considered commodities now.
With this in mind, we won't be able to survive if we don't aim to increase the level of sales while retaining a certain level of profit. It's necessary to get a good balance between market share, growth and profit.
Q. Why is Toshiba focusing on management resources for operations related to nuclear power generation?
A. We hope to concentrate on front-end businesses, such as the production of uranium and (nuclear) fuel. I think we can develop various kinds of partnerships centered on countries such as Kazakhstan and Russia. We also wish to accumulate expertise in back- end businesses, such as the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Q. Could you tell us about your core business of constructing nuclear power plants?
A. We have 16 prospective orders from U.S. electricity companies for nuclear reactors from Westinghouse (Electric Co. …