OSAKA: Saving face (as opposed to changing face) is an important element in the psyche of the Land of the Rising Sun.

Japanese electronics conglomerate Matsushita Electric Industrial Company yesterday (Wednesday) reversed that belief by acknowledging itself as over-reliant on its stagnant home market and changing its corporate name to that of its best-known global brand – Panasonic.

Admits president Fumio Ohtsubo: "We can't compete against our rivals in growth if we stay dependent on Japan for half of our business."

The change is significant in another respect too. Given the honor attached to matters ancestral, the dumping of the name of the firm's revered founder, Konosuke Matsushita, signals a break with tradition.

The company has already ventured beyond its Japan-focused perspective, holding a monthly executive meeting in China in May – the first ever beyond Japanese shores.

Moreover, president Ohtsubo (63) now makes overseas business trips eight or nine times annually. He's also encouraging more employees to take similar forays into the wider world.

Although admitting that these are small steps, Ohtsubo insists it is just the beginning. "We are going to change very fast," he avers. "We have to."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff