[ Keidanren ] [ Journal ]
Messages from "Economic Trend", May/June 2011

Like hardy grass weathering the storm

Atsutoshi NISHIDA
Vice Chairman, Keidanren
Chairman of the Board, Toshiba Corporation

I cannot help but feel a deep sadness for the great number of irreplaceable lives which were lost on March 11th in the Great East Japan Earthquake. I would like to express my sincere sympathies to all those who were affected by the disaster and also to wish for every happiness in the next life for all those who lost their lives.

At the present time, as the search for missing people continues in the disaster hit areas, and as every effort continues to be made at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, I believe that the rest of us have the responsibility of drawing up blueprints for the future of Japan.

The composure of the Japanese people, the orderly behavior and the display of ethics immediately after the earthquake, made a deep impression across the world. While this disaster has left Japan facing a national crisis, I believe that the keen sense of ethics and morals and strong sense of perseverance shown by the Japanese people once again offered proof that Japan's strengths do not lie only in science and technology. And at the same time, seeing the breadth of support Japan has received from around the world, I once more realized that increased cooperation with the international community is necessary for national security.

To secure Japan's revival, and even more than that, to achieve the country's rebirth, we must, as soon as possible, restore economic activity and, at the same time, we must plan the revitalization of local areas, starting with promotion of the tourism industry. More than ever before, each of us must continue to cultivate a "crisis mindset", as this allows us to take a long hard look at the change in our situation and to respond quickly; it particularly raises our ability to reinvent ourselves, and for the public and private sectors to unite as one and build new foundations.

With regards to the impending issue of electricity supply and demand in the Tohoku and Kanto regions this summer, businesses and households must work together to reduce electricity consumption and save energy. However I expect that a top down reconstruction of Japan's energy network will prove to be necessary, including the introduction of distributed storage systems and the construction of a highly autonomous energy network.

The Japanese economy lacks natural resources, and if we are to achieve sustainable growth, we must cooperate with the international community in order to secure resources. Here in Japan, alongside planning further improvements in energy efficiency, we must ensure a stable energy supply and energy security by having an energy mix that adds renewable energy sources to the traditional fossil fuels used to generate energy. In these circumstances, I think that in the mid to long-term we need to make the Pacific coast areas of Tohoku and Kanto into a model region, and to build a Smart Community that incorporates solar energy and other natural sources of energy.

Like a hardy grass that can weather the storm, I believe that the people in the Tohoku region affected by the earthquake and tsunami can make use of the results of the last 100 years of training superior human resources and manpower. With this as a nucleus, they can facilitate the restructuring of Japanese industry through the creation of innovation and by possessing precisely the international competitive strengths needed by Japan in the 21st century.

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