Chairman, Nippon Keidanren
This issue of Keizai Trend presents our new vision for Japan in detail. Our vision is a call to action. And we have done everything possible to articulate our proposals in a manner that will prove meaningful to Japanese. Our hope is to stimulate debate and build momentum for efforts toward revitalizing our nation.
Setting a good example is crucial. Leaders in all sectors of Japanese society need to put forth compelling agendas and demonstrate a commitment to fulfilling their goals. That is the most effective way to mobilize people in worthwhile endeavors.
A good example is a remarkable initiative that is beautifying several islands in Japan's Inland Sea. I heard about that initiative from the internationally renowned architect Tadao Ando. We appeared together on a special television program that aired in Japan to mark the new year.
The Inland Sea is an exquisite, sheltered body of water that stretches between Japan's main island of Honshu on the north and the island of Shikoku on the south. Scattered across its quiet waters are hundreds of picturesque islets-some inhabited, some hardly more than a rocky projection topped with a tree or two.
Sadly, extensive dumping of industrial waste has blighted several of the Inland Sea islands. Ando and the lawyer Kohei Nakabo inaugurated a campaign to reforest the affected islands. They solicited thousand-yen (eight-dollar) donations to fund the planting.
The reforestation campaign captured the imagination of school children and teachers on the islands. Elementary and junior high school students began gathering acorns. The children plant the acorns and place nametags beside the nascent oaks, which they water and care for. Their schools use the monetary donations to plant cherry trees.
As the children grow up, they get to see greenery and flowers return to their islands. They will always be able to take pride in their efforts and in their birthplaces. That sense of pride will remain with them always, even if and after they move away.
This impressive campaign in the Inland Sea is inspirational and instructive. Someone took the initiative. People recognized an opportunity --unrelated to any financial incentive-- to improve their habitat.
They joined in.
It can happen elsewhere.