Japan Press Conference and igus Social Responsibility

This morning we officially kicked off the Japanese leg of “iglide on tour!” igus Japan hosted a press conference at the luxurious Palace Hotel Tokyo, and 32 journalists came to get an up close look at our car and hear about our plans for the tour.

Kunihiko Kitagawa,  or Kenny, which is easier for us non-Japanese speakers, is the Country Manager for igus Japan. Kenny gave the journalists an overview of igus history, our line of iglide materials and products, and the plans for the Japanese leg of the tour.

Japan Press Conference and igus Social Responsibility

A highlight of the conference was the speech from a representative of the German Embassy to Japan, Mr. Sickert. He and the embassy helped us with the complicated registration process of the car.

Sickert referred to igus as a highly innovative company that represents the German “Mittlestand” business model. The Mittlestand is comprised of mid-sized companies that are considered to be the economic backbone of the German economy. Mr. Sickert went on, saying that “With its highly specialized products, sales, and production on several continents, and obvious knack for marketing, igus is a prime example of a successful Mittlestand.”

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After Mr. Sickert’s speech, the press had their chance to ask questions, as well as walk around and take a look at a wide range of igus products on display with information about their uses and applications.

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Following the press conference, we left Tokyo for Iseasaki, where we will begin three weeks of driving and customer visits tomorrow. We are going to explore the entire island, planning on completing a full lap along the coast of the island, about 2,800 miles. For each mile, igus will donate one Euro to a Japanese charity that is helping children affected by the 2011 tsunami.

igus has been coupling with a new charity organization in each country along the tour. While in Taiwan, we partnered with two organizations that help developmentally disabled children and their families, especially regarding education.  One of the organizations, Maria Social Welfare Foundation, came to visit at our Taiwanese Press conference.

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In Korea and China, we donated aid in the form of rice, giving 1 kg (2.2 lbs) for every kilometer driven.  The donations from the Korean leg weighed in at almost 4,500 pounds – almost 4 times as heavy as the iglide car!

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Each local igus branch decides how to best give back to their communities. We like to think that igus stands for not only high quality, but social responsibility as well!

I’ll keep you up to date on our Japanese adventures!

-Sascha

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch

Classical music, chandeliers, and delicious food… I’m not talking about a romantic 5-star restaurant, but the Press Conference for the iglide tour in South Korea!

Moving North, and The South Korean Press Launch

Ernie Kim, the Country Manager, welcomed journalists, and kicked off the fourth conference for “iglide on tour.”  Only 3 speakers were scheduled; Hyungtea Kim, the iglide bearings Product Manager, followed Ernie, introducing several applications in the iglide car, as well as presenting our igus range of products. Last but not least, I spoke about the retrofitting of the car, and shared my experiences over the past 3 months (three months already?!?). All in all, it was a great press conference, with even more journalists than expected.

We traveled to the traditional port city of Donghea – home to a beautiful white sand beach that stretches for miles, and many small seafood restaurants lined up along the shore. All our bearings are corrosion-resistant and can stand salty sea water, and we had a lovely view of Korea’s famously pretty seashore.

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From Donghea, we headed North along the coast. The landscape gradually changed, getting more and more mountainous. We stopped to take in some of the most beautiful mountain views I have ever seen at the Taebaek mountain range, located inside a National Park. The distinct shape of the mountains, dozens of waterfalls, and diversity of wildlife makes this area a major travel destination from all over Korea. We climbed more than a mile up the Seoraksan Mountain, one of the most famous in Korea.

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Surely, I don’t need to tell you that the Korean penninsula is split in half by the most heavily armed border in the world; North and South Korea are still at “open war” with one another. After the Korean War in the 1950’s, a mile wide strip of land was established as a buffer zone. Also called the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, the buffer was worked out between the Koreas, China, and the United Nations as part of an agreement. We were allowed to enter the DMZ with the iglide car after a lengthy registration process.

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In the photo above, the barbed wire fence is what marks the border between South and North Korea. Being this close to the fence – such a focus of International Relations and politics – has been one of the highlights for me on the trip so far.

We are currently in Seoul, where you do not get the feeling that there is any threat of an attack from the North. Look a little closer, and you can see that the situation really is quite serious. Just look at this rocket launcher, located on a hill above Seoul, likely serving to intercept rockets incoming from the North.

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That’s all from me at the moment, I will be back with more updates soon.

-Sascha