President's column Vol.8

President's column

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「常識からのハミ出しが新しいものを創造する」そう期待するなら… 「常識からのハミ出しが新しいものを創造する」そう期待するなら…

I have a confession to make; one that has already passed the statute of limitation. I believe Umihotaru, an artificial island floating on Tokyo Bay, is surrounded with possibly the highest number of fish in the Tokyo area. As most people know, fishing is strictly prohibited around the island.

I knew that climbing up the wall in an attempt to get closer to the ocean would set off an alarm or activate the revolving light. Still I could not shake off the urge to check the fish in the ocean. I somehow got around to the other side and shined a flash light at the ocean. What I saw was utterly appalling. There was a truly large school of fish swimming underneath. It is easy to see on the map that the area around Umihotaru is a perfect gathering spot for fish since the island faces Futtsu Cape, which is known for its shallow waters extending quite a way out from the beach, and the current constantly brings in fresh water. I’m sure there are other people besides me that have had the urge to make the extra effort to see suzuki (adult sea perch) and rockfish dancing in the waters. I admit that it was dangerous, but my passion for fish prevailed.

As much as I enjoy deep-sea fishing, I love spending time on snow-capped mountains. I enjoy skiing down the untouched slopes covered with powder snow. It has been over 10 years since I started visiting the ski resort in Asahidake, Hokkaido every winter. There is a big cable car that leaves from the foot of the mountain and carries up to 100 passengers all the way to the top. The powder snow on various slopes can be accessed by snowshoeing. As hard as it is to explain, the floating feeling is quite exhilarating and gives you a sense of riding on clouds. You can tell everyone on the cable car becomes ecstatic after it snows. The big mountain has two courses which are both about 7 meters (23 feet) wide and the slopes are compacted. At the entrance to the cable car, there is a sign clearly stating that skiers are to stay on the course at all times. However, most people ignore it. Asahidake is known for its powder snow and it does not make sense for most skiers not to enjoy it. It is not just the beauty and the magnificence of the snowy mountain, but also the sense of becoming one with the mountain by skiing down the power snow that makes me return to the place year after year. This is only possible because it is a real-world experience where risks are involved. I am not encouraging people to break rules. What drives us to pursue what we yearn for is an outpouring of emotion and passion. Such feelings can sometimes make people step outside of their safety zone by breaking the rules and deviating from common sense.

I personally feel that over the last ten years or so, the safety zone considered by Japanese people has become extremely narrow. The recent trend is to condemn light offenses and find those with administrative responsibilities at fault for something miniscule. The Japanese media now often uses the phrase “question the responsibility of…” without specifying who is questioning the said responsibility. They are probably implying that the public is the one casting doubt upon authority. But is that really true? Is everyone really that upset? Most of the time it seems like the expression comes from the subjective opinion of the reporter or the broadcaster. If that is true, how hypocritical is that?

Does everyone in the world really want society to be unforgiving?

The Chinese characters for the word “crime” in Japanese literally mean to commit a wrongdoing. People cannot live in a society where all wrongdoings are unforgiveable. I think so because humans cannot be free from sinful behavior from the day they are born. We eat by taking others’ lives, we compete to be ahead of others, we deceive and we betray. There is no getting away from it for us humans. That is why I think it is important that we forgive, recognize and show the need for each other. That is what brings vivacity and joy to life.

People start to avoid adventures in order to follow the strict rules and norms of society. It is only natural to want to live in a world where there is no risk and no one reprimands you. Virtual reality is what satisfies such a desire. The dynamism of computer-generated 3D images provides us with excitement for a fleeting moment, not just in games but also in virtual relationships.

I have a friend named Nobukazu Kuriki. On his website titled Share the Dream, he streams live broadcasts of his experiences of solo-climbing Mt. Everest without carrying an oxygen tank. He says that one of the best things that has happened as a result of the website is that he has received thank-you messages from young people suffering from social withdrawal. Various media has featured him on TV and public broadcasts has even run a special program devoted to covering his work. Some may wonder why and what for. But there is no definite answer to that question. There is reality in what he does, something that would never exist in a virtual world. People have the need to share their outpouring feelings and passion so they can recognize and encourage each other. This is why people are drawn together by such events.

I often hear the phrase “Japan power.” Splendors of life, a wonderful future and yearning. All those are created out of bounds of rules and common sense. But if people still expect those in real life, society must take care of the misfits.

May 2012

Author: Susumu Kawaguchi

Chairman & CEO

Nutri Co., Ltd.

Illustrator: Nakajo Junichi