Essay by Prof. Hiroi Published in the 1/1 /18 Edition of the Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper:
"It Is Time to Rediscover Richness and Creativity in the 'Steady-State'"
An essay by Prof. Yoshinori Hiroi was published in the January 1st edition of Kyoto Shimbun as part of its series “Things Japanese people have lost”.
The series features essays by experts on how to build society on solid foundation of traditional Japanese culture. In Prof. Hiroi article “It’s time to rediscover richness and creativity of the “steady-state”, he suggests that it is important to shift our focus from “economic expansion and growth” to “sustainability, circulation and mutual cooperation”. This idea was cultivated in Kyoto for a thousand years, indicating that the population remained mostly unchanged from the beginning of the Heian period(794 AD) to the end of the Edo Period(1868).
It’s time to rediscover richness and creativity in the “Steady-State”
Prof. Hiroi (Kyoto University Kokoro Research Center)
This might be a bit blunt for a New Year’s message, but our government debt has surpassed one thousand trillion yen(twice the GDP), which is a lot by international standards. Although this might be difficult to relate to, it means we are indifferent to the fact that we are passing on an enormous debt to the generations to come…
How has this happened? My understanding is that we do things based on short-term gains and a belief that economic growth is the solution to everything. You might be aware that corporate scandals have become an everyday occurrence, as we see their executives on TV bowing deeply in apology. These stem from the same root.
One wonders if this phenomenon is related to “things Japanese people lost”. Here are some examples of people who valued passing on social benefits to future generations, rather than short-term gains and expanded profits: Sontoku Ninomiya (a 19th century “community revitalization consultant”), Eiichi Shibusawa (an industrialist known as the father of Japanese capitalism who believed that ethics and economics are both necessary for successful business) and the Omi merchants and residents. They valued “sustainability”, “circulation” and “mutual support” rather than “expansion and growth”.
Excerpt from Kyoto Shimbun, 1/1/18
“Things Japanese people have lost”
Website for the wisdom conference: Pioneering the future of Kyoto