Monthly Archives: September 2015

Living without Financial Capitalism

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When you read this column’s title, you must be screaming, “NO. It’s impossible!” Of course, there seems to be any more room where you can’t find even a tiny fragment of financial capitalism. At least outside Japan, this is quite the case.

I’m now writing this column in NAOSHIMA, a beautiful small island in the Inlands Sea in Japan (Setonai-kai), which is famous for being decorated with plenty of contemporary arta. Enjoying unforgettable landscape with an insular bay and a distant view of the City of Takamatsu, where I was born by the way, I’m trying to write down my ideas and thoughts on the future world without financial capitalism.

Actually, this is extremely paradoxical, because this fantastic landscape here in Naoshima is one of the results brought about by financial capitalism. It was Soichiro FUKUTAKE, former CEO of Benesse corporation, that managed to understand how both significant and essential gathering contemporary arts in the global market is for his own success in business. From my viewpoint, it’s not “beaute” as such but business that mattered for him. Contemporary arts are the key, with which you will be welcomed by western business leaders, however, only few Japanese business leaders are capable of getting this common sense in the global community. In this regard, I really respect Soichiro FUKUTAKE’s foresight and insight, that obviously has been leading to his company’s tremendous success.

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Having said that, I sometimes feel there could be only few fragments of financial capitalism in local cities and regions in Japan, where I’m used to be invited to deliver speeches. The typical examples for that are small and middle sized cities in the Shikoku Island. Except for big cities such as Takamatsu and Matsuyama, you can find there only cities without any real estate built up after the 21st century. What you usually face there, is a series of old-fashioned buildings from 1960s and 70s, when the Japanese economy enjoyed the peak of rapid economic growth after the WWII. Now, you may wonder how poor and miserable the local people are. Nevertheless, those who encounter you in the cities, are always smiling quite contrary to such a preoccupation. Heaving a breath, you say to yourself: “Well, this is the very enigma in Japan.”

There are two reasons for this typical local-Japanese phenomenon as follows: First of all, “object economy” still survives there. Without paying a single dime, you can live it up there, conditioned that you manage to maintain very close relationship and human network with the local community you belong to. You work on something, which you’ll give to your neighbors, who will then give back something you need to you. That’s all. Particularly being rich in diversity of natural resources, it’s possible in Japanese local regions such as the Shikoku-Island. Compared with British “moor”, where you can find nothing for survival, the difference is quite obvious.

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Secondly, however, local tycoons exist in Japan, due to the shadow economy closely related with (financial) capitalism. It’s industrial wastes in big cities full of consumers that enabled them to enjoy luxurious life. Thanks to accelerating consumption in urban areas such as Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, the tycoons connected to local leadership and even criminal organizations called “YAKUZA”, import industrial with a huge amount of subsidies. Local banks in Japan strictly keep it secret, because the tycoons hold deposits in the banks’ accounts. This is the very reason why you sometimes find out gorgeous villas of tycoons in local cities and regions, where any single industry doesn’t exist.

The irony of history is the fact that these tycoons are being dead because of declining population in Japan. Furthermore, China, our neighbor country, regards our “wastes” as “resources to be recycled”, and has begun to massively import them. Plenty of industrial waste treatment plants isn’t needed in Japan any more. This is the true reason for slow death of Japanese local cities and communities.

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Money always goes around, and there isn’t any eternal business model in our human society. Living without financial capitalism is really hard, but must be possible. This tiny island, “NAOSHIMA”, as a paradoxical mixture of contemporary arts and natural beauty inspires me to this direction.

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way.

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This week, I and my colleague in charge held meetings with METI and MOF, two of the most influential ministries in the Government of Japan. The reason why I held these meetings was quite simple: I wanted to show them how significant to be get involved in B20 process much deeper than they ever had done. From now on, I skip MOFA, which I once belonged to, because its guys don’t have any sense on what economy and business are.

During the meetings, I was totally disappointed to find out METI’s and MOF’s counterparts, who are usually known as “best and brightest” in the Japanese society, never understand the distinction between “domestic/nation-statewide” and “global”. From their viewpoint I shared when I was a member of MOFA till 2005, something “global” always tries to invade Japan’s system, where they are willing to fight against the cultural and economic invasion. They never think of the necessity even the Japanese can and shall make intellectual contributions to make frameworks for the better world in the future. To do so, they urgently need to get connected to those who have been settings frameworks for the world behind the door. “B20” which I belong to is one of tools they make use of for such a purpose.

As soon as the meetings ended, I got in touch with both Accenture team and World SME Forum. “Accenture”, because the global consulting firm obviously lead the discussion in terms of SME & Entrepreneurship in the B20 process. “World SME Forum”, because it will soon upload an online platform where ambitious SMEs from all over the world can be registered to get crowd funding globally. They are indeed “game changers”, which the ordinary Japanese leadership never knows, while I, as an active member of B20, know them quite well and can contact them whenever I need. My counterparts of both of Accenture in Paris and WSF immediately responded to the eMail I had sent them on behalf of the GOJ.

The point is METI’s guys still think of whom they should instruct to meet them. I’m terribly afraid that they can never understand how essential it is to communicate with each other in an accelerated manner in the digitalized world. Nevertheless, an old proverb says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. I’ll never give up to push the Japanese bureaucrats into the genuine global context. Of course, this is only for the better world in our common future.

Heavy Rain and Japan’s Default

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This week, Japanese media have been focusing on catastrophe caused by lasting heavy rain. Even though it had been terribly hot in this year’s summer, the climate was suddenly changed into autumn. Everybody became aware of the fact that something is wrong with the climate due to unknown reasons. The point is the Japanese still seem to believe that this is just an adventitious phenomenon and have originally nothing to do with what’s been going on in the Japanese society. Nevertheless, this is not the case.

Make sure Japan has been controlled by traditional arcanum based on Yin-Yang philosophy from the ancient time. Of course, our modern political system is driven by democracy and liberalism, which never allow these ambiguous thoughts to come in Japanese society’s front stage. However, this is not the proof for that Japan’s still dependent on legacy of arcanum.

Now, you must wonder what it is. It is gestures of the Japanese imperial house that matter. Why? Recently, we experienced installations of deities in new shrines both in ISE and IZUMO, where two of the most important shrines in the Japanese Shintoism are located. And in ISE, the transfer of tiny shrines was conducted, while the prioritization among gods was changed from the god of “fire” to another of “water”. The public concentrated rather on transfer of bigger and much more famous shrines with glaring celebration. However, the true shrines’ transfer, or “SENGU” were done without such a dramatized celebration.

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Why from “fire” to “water”? By doing so, the Japanese imperial house declares to the whole world that a period of “liquidity” has just begun. In this regard, “liquidity” includes both water and money. According to the Japanese imperial arcanum, a period of “liquidity” is interpreted as a season when so much “liquidity” are to be poured into the human society. That means, from the viewpoint of natural phenomena, it begins to rain heavily one after another, while the economy enjoys a series of “quantitative easing (QE)”. Both of them will cause “floods”, as we just experienced the one in Japan these days. A flood in the economy simply means our human society is to stand on the edge. Without boosting the economy by either grand wars or unprecedented innovations, our economy will be forced to face hyperinflation sooner or later. That will destruct everything without any exception, while something new will finally start to grow up.

In terms of another leading shrine, or “IZUMO TAISHA”, another arcanum covers. It’s strictly forbidden to explain to you as outsiders what it truly is. I’m terribly sorry. What I can tell you is only the fact that the combination of these two shrines’ transfers does indicate what future is waiting for us. Don’t forget it.

Japan remains an enigma because it’s reigned outside the conventional framework of western style. The Japanese imperial house never gives us detailed explanation on such a arcanum. Instead of doing so expressis verbis, the house always tries to makes us feel and understand the “right” direction of the human society. Well, this is Japan, my mother country.

Pragmatism and the Islam.

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This week, I attended B20 Summit hosted by Turkey. From the last March, I’ve been actively participated in the B20 process, particularly in terms of SME & Entrepreneurship. Besides energetic discussions with my colleagues from G20 countries, I’ve been making enormous effort to make the GOJ and leadership of Japanese business people understand how significant B20 is. Thanks to assistance of some smart leaders in various fields, at least METI slowly began to pick up this issue. After my return to Tokyo, a brainstorming session with METI guys is to be held to think together about how to prepare for B20/G20 process.

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Of course, I really enjoyed discussions and dialogues in the venue, however, not talks as such but serendipity and synchronicity that mattered to me again like during previous B20 meetings. Among colleagues I met this time, there was an Iranian colleague in charge of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Because he also jumped out from brilliant diplomatic career and then into a new world voluntarily, we could somehow understand each other from the very beginning.

What he explained to me in terms of the Islam inspired me extremely. Having listened to my question whether Iran and Israel would declare a war in the very near future, he smiled and simply ruled out such a possibility, by saying that it’s the both countries which are well known as the nations of pragmatists in the Middle East. “Don’t believe antagonisms reported by western mass media and always get to know the reality in the ME. Even Sunnis and Shiites have been lived peacefully together for more than 1300 years.” From his viewpoint, only a series of terrorism caused by so-called “Islamic State” has been created another dimension in the ME. Apart from that, it’s hardly possible to find out any single cause which could lead ME to a warfare. Even the Saudis, which traditionally feel hostility vis-à-vis the Iranian, know how meaningless and disastrous a regional war could be. “The fact I, a former Iranian diplomat”, am now posted in the management of OIC in Jeddah, obviously shows the reality”, he laughingly said.

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Sometimes, relying on OSINT let us shut our eyes to the reality. This is exactly why I’m always traveling around the world while analyzing global affairs to make future scenarios. Cheers.