Sustainability is NOT Conservatism.


Yesterday, I had an opportunity to enjoy a luncheon with a high ranking guest from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). I’ve been personally invited to the G20 CEO Advisory Group of the ICC, which discusses recommendations to the G-level on behalf of the global business community. This time, my colleague, who’s by the way an Australian, paid a visit to Tokyo to consult with his partners in Japan in terms of the Japanese presidency of G20 from the forthcoming December.

What he kindoy explained to me surprised me extremely. Within the framework of the B20, we’re used to organize task forces besides “plenary session”, which pick up global issues specifically for gathering collective wisdom of the global business community. However, based on his explanation, the Japanaese secretariat of B20 obviously intends to abandon task forces and hold just a plenary session called “B20 summit” on 14 and 15 March 2019. In addition, Japan never invites global consulting firms such as McKinsey and Co. to discussions under her B20/G20 presidency, which usually play signicant roles to hand over “narratives” of the global issues to the presidency every year. Without their intellectual assistance, Japan and her secretariat for B20 presidency, the Keidanren, obviously cut off any external “noises” to their own economic policies. This is exactly what the Abe Ministration has been doing for protectiong its own political and economic interest vis-a-vis any outsiders including the public.

“To my surprise”, my colleague from the ICC said, “the word ‘sustainability’ my Japanese counterparts enthusiastically used in his presentation seems to have other meaning and connotation than our usual understanding”. Even though his counterpart of the Keidanren enthusiastically pointed out to him that the Japanese B20 presidency will highlight the SDGs, he couldn’t fully grasp what the guy meant to say.

Having heard that, I spontaneously asked him a question: “The word ‘sustainability’, or ‘持続可能性’ in Japanese, only means ‘maintaining what is done’. But I’m wondering whether original meaning of ‘sustainability’ does have any other connotations.”

Laughing abruptly, my colleague from Paris knidly gave me a short explanation in this regard: “Sustainability doesn’t mean conservatism. To sustain a certain situation, we also need an improvement. Something innovative has to be done, so that the status quo remains. I’m afraid the Japanese misunderstand the word ‘sustainability'”. With a smile, I nicked.

The next year, 2019, will show you completely parallel worlds on the globe. The one is Japan where every interest and structure since 1945 still remains. Another one is the rest of the world under the western leadership, where everything has to be improved for the sustanability. Under the B20/G20 Presidency of Japan, this dichotomy will reveal dramatically, which will surely lead us to a fatal crash between Japan and other countries, particularly US and Europe. This will be the end of the conventional world order and kick off the new era with complete destruction of the “world of yesterday”. The battlefield ahead will not be in any other countries and regions, but Japan. Don’t forget it. Stay tuned.

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