Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony as Secondary Matter

Nobel Prize-winning environmentalist Wangari Maathai has become somehow popular in Japan, for she adopted a Japanese expression “mottai-nai” to advertise and promote her work.

As she is an African lady, this EEreport might be for Africa-loving people.

Not English or French, but Japanese, especially with the expression “mottai-nai” she chose is an interesting fact. On the other hand, Japanese are unlikely to use any African language and its symbol to express a slogan for any cultural activity, so far, which is one sad thing for Japan. So, I am afraid that she must realize it and interpret it in some way when she visited Japan with full of English commercial signs.

The word “mottai-nai” is used with a sense of self-humility or recommendation of humility to one’s subordinates or juniors for an educational or disciplinary purpose. It is used to stress a view that you or I should not behave like a rich and arrogant human being who thinks he or she has so many abundant resources and so much money that she or he may be allowed to waste anything as he or she wishes.

However, the most important meaning is that you have to be thankful to the nature or a divine spirit that give you any little, valuable thing. Be humble to the great nature and divine spirits to which you are apparently inferior.

Literally or originally, “mottai-nai” is divided into “mottai” meaning sincerity, respect, or solemnity, and “nai” meaning non-existence of anything or anybody. It could be used when expressing adoration to a God or the God, in the manner that while I lack enough respect, what a blessing has been given to me by the holly one. It is just like what a friendship was given to a wretch, that is me, by Jesus.

The saddest thing about Africa is it has no tradition of a kind of science that has worked as a base of modern industry. Why Europe and not Africa developed basements of the modern industrial society might be still misunderstood. It is not because Africa lacked something but it had had enough. But, many Europeans thought they lacked ability; consequently Europeans didn’t respect Africans.

However if you live with presupposition that only Europeans have ability and are clever, so that they have a right to claim more, it simply proves that you have not and you are not.

It was not in a forest in ancient Europe that urban civilization began. It began in agricultural field in a region now called Iraq. Britain, France, and Germany were even not meaningful part of the Roman Empire. Their assumption was very biased to the degree that might be judged to be rather wrong.

Even a Chinese revolutionary leader said, in order to raise the morale of his comrades, that the four great inventions of the human history, that is, gun powder, paper, the compass, and printing, had been all invented by early or ancient Chinese.

But, there is also a sad thing about China. It has not developed a philosophy symbolized by the Japanese expression “mottai-nai.”

Descendants of old Europeans adventured into America and their descendants became main-stream Americans. They did so without a philosophy of “mottai-nai.”

From a Japan’s point of view, it is neither Europeans nor American mainstreams that have discovered the mentality represented by “mottai-nai.” But it is an African Lady Japanese would reasonably respect for this matter only.

Compared with her wisdom to choose a Japanese expression instead of any European one, the honor she received in a Nobel Prize awards ceremony is a secondary matter.

In 2001, a critical year in various ways, the U.S. accounted for roughly 26.1% of oil consumption of all the world, Asia except Japan and China accounted for 13.9%, Japan 7.2%, China 6.7%, The Middle East 5.7%, Germany 3.7%, Russia 3.3%, France 2.7%, Italy2.6%, the U.K. 2.2%, and the rest of the world 25.6% in certain statistics.

So, to whom did she direct her message with the choice of symbolic expression?


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Powerful Players to Poland

Though Mr. Okuda spoke for Japanese readers, this E-report is for Polish people and hard-working factory workers.

Hiroshi Okuda, the chairman of Toyota Motor Corp. and the chairman of the Federation of Economic Organizations of Japan, was interviewed for a monthly journal article.

Recently GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner visited Japan to talk with corporate leaders of Toyota for joint development of fuel-cell cars. But it is unknown if Mr. Wagoner had read the article in the journal prior to the meeting.

In the article, Mr. Okuda talked about his recollections of the time when he had served a president of Toyota Jihan (specialized in sale of Toyota cars but integrated into the current Toyota Motor Corp. in 1982) as a kind of young executive assistant.

Young Okuda asked his boss in the president’s room why there were so many statutes of the Buddha in office of the company. His boss kindly explained: “When you grow up you will understand it, too. Leader of a company is lonely. He has to make a big decision in the sheer loneliness. I have nobody to rely on and ask help for but the Buddha. So, I make every important decision sitting in front of these statutes.”

Mr. Okuda told that he had understood that ultimately man had to rely on the God, the Buddha, or his own principle or philosophy on life and death. But, it is also unknown how many Buddhist sculptures are now in Mr. Okuda’s office today. He might base his integrity on philosophy on life and death he acquired through his practice of Judo since his youth.

This kind of story is often heard in the Japan’s business world. At least, in the 20st century, there were many old executive officers in Japanese companies who seemed to love to tell how he had been able to stand the test in business successfully with spiritual support from tenets of Buddhism. The tradition might still survive in the 21st century.

When Lech Walesa visited Japan in 1981, first he praised hard and good work of Japanese workers and products they produced. But as days went by in Japan, it is said, he stopped to speak highly of industrial success of Japan. He might come to see simply robot-like workers building robots. Or he might see influence of Buddhism on every worker, in which he found something mysterious. In the same year, John-Paul II also visited Japan.

The 24 years have passed. Poland-born John-Paul II passed away and Mr. Walesa attended the funeral rites. A Japanese reporter wrote in a certain article that he was asked by a taxi driver in Rome during the Pope’s funeral if Japan had become a socialist country since its prime minister had not come to Rome. In fact, Japan sent to the funeral an Assistant to the Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs; she was a former foreign minister of Japan.

US President attended the funeral in Rome. It is reasonable for him to do so, because he had visited John-Paul II in the summer of 2004 when his reelection became very possible. He might understand Mr. Okuda very well. However, it is unknown how US President interpreted the absence of Japanese Prime Minister in Rome.

Now, Poland is a focus of some powerful players in the global market. US Motorola is beefing up its software R&D operation in Poland. US Intel is reportedly going to invest more in Poland. And Toyota has a plan to increase the number of employees in Poland from 1,100 to 1,800. Currently the number of Japanese-affiliated firms is about 130.

Pope of Rome won the Cold War. The U.S. won the Cold War. And Japan also won the Cold War. If any one of these powers had joined the Soviet Union, the result should have been unknown. Poland that caused disruption of the balance of power by having sent a Pope to Rome also contributed to the victory.

Anyway in the conventional meaning of the term religion, the U.S. is very religious, but Japan is also very religious in a very different manner, perhaps, with diagonally different views.

But if the next world war is not between atheists and believers, it would be very complicated. However, there are of course hopes. People in the Middle East does not seem to regard driving a Toyota or Nissan car as a sin or an inexcusable conduct, maybe, like people in Poland.


(Source of Information: Bungei Shunjyu)