Vice Chairman, Nippon Keidanren
Representative Director and President, Nippon Steel Corporation
It is April once again -- the season of the young and hopeful, readying themselves to take the first step forward in school and office with cherry blossoms coming into blooms. These days, while many talented young people bring exciting performances to the world of sports, go and shogi often make their way into the headlines as well, as more and more young people seem to be at a loss to find meaning in life, idling their time away. Problems with discipline at home and education at schools, and the situation is further compounded by the continued recession, an uncertain future, a prevailing sense of helplessness, and many other complications. Given all this, it's hard for young people to feel that a fulfilling life is waiting for them up ahead. But, here, as a small hint at a solution to such a situation, I would like to say that there are certainly some good things going on in the world of sports.
Mr. Shinzo Koizumi, when he was president of Keio University, said that, in sports, young people can find three treasures: the lesson learned early on that practice makes perfect, the spirit of fair play, and lifelong friends. Since I used to be a boy whose heart and soul were fully immersed in judo, I might have more of an inclination than most to feel empathy for the advantages of involvement in sports; however, as found in the old adage, "A sound mind in a sound body", the unquestionable importance of toughening young people in mind and body through hard training in sports might well be common to all ages in all countries.
In today's volatile society, in order to have a fulfilling life, it is necessary to possess flexibility with which to speedily respond to changes. At the same time, however, in my belief, it is also of overriding importance to have honest determination in the pursuit of one's aspirations and objectives, unperturbed by distracting changes taking place all around. This unwavering resolve will develop when people, while young, take part in sports and experience the hardships and joys of training with a single, definite purpose in mind and, in the process, learn that practice indeed makes perfect. This experience should become a remarkably treasured asset to them throughout life.
Naturally, some young people will be drawn to academic studies and others to artistic pursuits. In whichever way, the important thing in youth is to try and find something worth pursuing with purpose and passion. And I feel that for us, senior citizens, a necessary and responsible task will be to direct all our energies to building a society in which more opportunities will be made available to young people who, even after initial failures and setbacks, will still be open to challenge as many times as desired.
As I begin to view the cherry blossoms coming into full bloom again this year, I hope and pray that young people discover good fortune as they begin their start in life.