AOI Joichi
Vice Chairman

Fifty years ago, amid the ruins of the war, Japan again set itself the challenge of catching up with the West. Today, Japan's per capita GDP exceeds that of the U.S. and most European countries. At this juncture, new challenges present themselves: developments in the international situation and structural changes in the Japanese economy make it imperative that Japan fundamentally reforms itself.

The matured state of several major industries and the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector that has accompanied the shift to overseas production, are symptomatic of the new environment in which Japan must operate. It is crucial that new industries and businesses are created to replace the traditional pillars of Japanese economy. Equally urgent is the need for creative people to establish these new industries and lead them to success. In this respect, the U.S. is much better placed than Japan. It generates an unending stream of dynamic venture businesses, trailblazing enterprises that are underpinned by a well-developed infrastructure. They draw strength from a culture that respects mold-breaking business ventures.

Creativity cannot be taught. It is, I believe, an attribute that resides within the individual. Each of us has to recognize our own creativity, cultivate it, bring it into full play. All we can do to help is to shape an environment in which creative people are evaluated appropriately, and then deploy those people where they may have the greatest impact. Japanese history is rich in examples of creativity. I am sure it is an attribute that is latent throughout Japanese society.

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