MOL looks beyond 125

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines marks its 125th anniversary this year, and MOL President Akimitsuu Ashida used the occasion to provide some historical perspective on the current economic downturn.

"The world economy is currently in what has been called a once-in-a-century criris, but in its lifetime MOL has ovecome many serious ordeals and difficulties — the Great Depression of the early thirties, World War II, the oil crisis of the seventies, the sharp appreciation of the Japanese yen after the Plaza Accord in 1985, and others," Ashida said in a speech to employees.

He noted that 20 years ago, the soaring yen forced MOL to replace Japanese seafarers with lower-cost seagoing labor — a wrenching change.

Ashida said the challenge now is to maximize cash flow while seeking growth opportunities that he said will eventually surface.

"When the international shipping industry returns to the growth track, we can expect the lineup of major players to be quite different from today," he said. "Only shipping companies operating with reinforced cost competitiveness will be able to survive."

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