Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

70 Years after WWII: My Thoughts: Inamori: 'Desire for Breakthrough' Led to Postwar Reconstruction

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

70 Years after WWII: My Thoughts: Inamori: 'Desire for Breakthrough' Led to Postwar Reconstruction

Article excerpt

In this second installment of the interview series, Kazuo Inamori talks about Japan's postwar economic reconstruction.


When the war ended, the destitute Japanese populace thronging the ruins of a devastated nation had only one thought in their minds: They had to survive. They were utterly determined to escape from their dire conditions and become more affluent.

When I founded Kyoto Ceramic Co. (the predecessor of Kyocera) in 1959 at the age of 27, I had a strong ambition to make it the top company in Kyoto, then in Japan and the world. I was researching and developing insulation materials, which was a very narrow field. The technology I had then was nothing extraordinary, but I worked harder than anybody else.

I worked hard day and night with unbending determination -- which turned out to be the very same factors that led to Japan's own rebuilding.

The Japanese are naturally deft and, in those days, they had phenomenal skills in producing woodcraft, metalwork and ceramics. Their outstanding talent in craftsmanship, ambition to make the nation grow, and efforts to make it happen all worked in synergy, allowing Japan to make massive strides in development and become the world's second-largest economy in terms of gross national product.

It's been about 25 years since the collapse of the bubble economy. Has the Japanese economy been battered during this period? No, it hasn't. It has ceased to develop in a significant way. It hasn't grown so much, but that doesn't mean we've become impoverished. Throughout these years, we've been enjoying an era of tranquillity -- for better or worse. Most leaders in Japanese society today are those who started their schooling and careers after Japan's economy was reconstructed and the nation became affluent.

Frogs will jump out of hot water, but they'll stay fixed in water that's gradually being heated because they can't recognize the change in temperature. People who grew up in lukewarm water didn't go through hardships similar to those experienced immediately after the war and have never possessed a burning desire to make a breakthrough. Even though they might have stellar minds, their accession to leadership positions has caused the stagnation we are experiencing now.

The distinct qualities of the Japanese -- diligence, persistence and meticulous craftsmanship -- have not withered away. Their thoughtfulness, which is filled with affection, is our nation's most valuable treasure. There was no looting or anything of that sort reported in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake. They don't think about profiting from and taking advantage of people in a predicament. People around the world respect Japan for such values, rather than its economic might or military power.

Emerging economies are making inroads into the global market. In Japan, the society is continuing to gray as the birthrate remains low. Complacency will ruin everything. I hope all Japanese people will stand up and say, "Let's work hard, everyone."

'This is not a difficult time to start a business'

The service industry should more actively demonstrate what has been valued as the Japanese spirit of hospitality. Such hearty hospitality means having a genuine desire to offer cordial service, and not just forcing a smile. The most important part of this kind of hospitality is to gladly give customers what they want.

In February 2010, I assumed the post of Japan Airlines chairman after the carrier's business failure. I had been asked to give a helping hand to the embattled company, and I accepted the JAL chairmanship -- but without knowing a thing about the airline business.

I had the notion that the airline industry was a sector in which each carrier possesses hundreds of planes, which are repaired and inspected at maintenance hangars, and safely operates these aircraft every day. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.