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2008年12月15日 (月)

社説:ソニー大リストラ 雇用への北風が吹きすさぶ

(Mainichi Japan) December 14, 2008

Sony's major restructuring plan casts chill over employment outlook

社説:ソニー大リストラ 雇用への北風が吹きすさぶ

Sony has announced a large-scale restructuring plan that will include the layoff of more than 16,000 workers worldwide from its various electronics businesses, including its liquid crystal display TV and digital camera divisions.


The U.S.-triggered financial crisis has profoundly shaken the global economy. Without a government bailout, U.S. automobile manufacturers are facing inevitable bankruptcy. And Japanese automakers, led by Toyota, are drastically revising their sales outlooks downward.


In the consumer electronics sector, Panasonic and Sony have already made downward adjustments; their Christmas sales wars in the U.S. and Europe have been disappointing, demand for their goods is expected to continue to fall, and a quick recovery is not likely.


Sony has probably decided that protecting its corporation under these circumstances requires a major restructuring that includes cutbacks in personnel and plant investment.


Sony has 57 production sites in Japan and abroad, and plans to close five or six of them. It will eliminate the jobs of 8,000, or 5 percent, of its 160,000 regular employees in its electronics businesses, as well as the jobs of 8,000 or more temporary or non-regular employees.


Given the severe financial conditions, Sony appears to be taking steps to keep its finances in a healthy state. While its layoff plans for within Japan are unclear, other corporations have already fired temporary or contract workers, and it is worrisome that many of these people who use company housing will be left without a place to live.


In order to prevent an increase in the ranks of Internet cafe refugees and the homeless, the government needs to address this problem immediately. We also urge corporations to adopt flexible responses to the crisis.


In April 2003, Sony's announcement that it revised its sales outlook downward triggered a steep decline in its stock price and caused the "Sony shock." In 2005, Sony revamped its management, and pushed ahead with a restructuring plan in order to rejuvenate its electronics businesses.


Sony had aimed to return its flat-screen TV division to the black by March 2009. However, price competition has been intense, and the economic downturn is likely to keep it mired in the red. The current large-scale restructuring has been forced upon the company by declining revenues from digital and video cameras.


The management of Sony has also been hobbled by the fact that the company has not been able to come up with hit products that drove sales in the past.


While Sony's video game hardware offers superior performance, Nintendo, popular for its pairing of software titles with its game consoles, leads the market. And Sony has ceded the lead in the portable music player market to Apple's iPod.


The rapid cooling of the global economy is the proximate cause of Sony's latest retrenchment measures. Needless to say, Sony is not the only company suffering from declining revenues.


The current global recession may serve to promote the consolidation and restructuring of the Japanese consumer electronics sector, which in the past had been looked upon as having an excess of manufacturers. We hope that the Japanese consumer electronics industry will use this crisis as a springboard to recovery.


毎日新聞 20081211日 東京朝刊


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