Yoroku: Forbearance as a requisite for wealth
Not far from the hustle and bustle of Kyobashi Station on the JR Osaka Kanjo train line, is the ancestral grave of the Ozasa family. Engraved on one side of the tombstone is a riddle that makes use of homonyms and the pictographic nature of kanji.
The message -- forbearance is most important for mankind -- is denoted through components of the kanji for money. Forbearance as a requirement for accumulating wealth is a basic tenet of business.
The legendary businessman Yoshigoro Ozasa, who was a Taisho-era stockbroker and a pyrotechnician, is said to have built the tombstone in 1914 as a lesson for his descendents. The point of a business, in which new generations are cultivated to sustain the public's confidence, lies in lasting prosperity.
Based on the lessons of our forefathers, we have prepared ourselves for a summer of forbearance, i.e. power conservation. So why has Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda decided to reactivate the stalled Oi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), claiming that Japanese society cannot function without nuclear energy? Why has he suggested, further, that a summer-only reactivation of the nuclear station would not be enough to "protect the lives of the Japanese people?"
The costs of nuclear power were at one time considered lower than other energy sources, but the damages and decontamination costs incurred from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) have been immeasurable. What's come crumbling down is not just the safety myth, but also the low-cost myth.
Both KEPCO and TEPCO will hold their general shareholders' meetings on June 27. The Osaka Municipal Government, which is KEPCO's largest stockholder, is seeking the utility's prompt abandonment of nuclear power. Both the Kobe and Kyoto municipal governments, also shareholders, will propose breaking away from nuclear power in the mid- to long-term. Whether or not KEPCO rejects such appeals from its shareholders, the public's eyes will be on its every move.
We can no longer hold off the development of solar and geothermal power generation. Energy conservation at the household level is now considered on par with power generation. Let us take the importance of forbearance to heart, and make appropriate changes in our lives. Doing so will lead to a society without nuclear power, and the lasting prosperity of our descendents. ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)
June 25, 2012(Mainichi Japan)