Things have been happening in the political world.

a Strangely enough, in the last issue I wrote about the “golden rule of politics,” and less than three weeks later Prime Minister Shinzo Abe suddenly announced his resignation. Once before I wrote about then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, and he stepped down a year later. It’s an odd coincidence.

Anyway, Abe’s resignation was very abrupt indeed. There had been high hopes of him as Koizumi’s successor, but he ended up burdened by Koizumi’s negative legacy. In this sense I can sympathize with him, but the real problem comes before that. Abe just did not understand the important duty of a prime minister. Indeed, that is precisely why he was able to bow out as he did.

At the time of Abe’s appointment as prime minister, Koizumi, without mentioning his caliber, commented, “We won’t know until he has a go.” Well, that is certainly true for anyone, but still caliber can surely be measured. It would be unheard of for a business leader to be given a go without first of all confirming his ability.

According to a newspaper report, Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, once said, “I am quite aware that Shinzo does not have what it takes to be prime minister.” Kishi went on to cite “sagacity” as a condition for a top leader. P. F. Drucker said that the secret of success for a top leader was to know not what you want to do but what you have to do. In the light of that proviso, it is clear that Abe did not possess the caliber. And remember, we are talking here about affairs of state.

A new prime minister has been appointed. His caliber is unquestionable, but nevertheless he is going to have to spend a lot of time clearing up Koizumi’s negative legacy. It makes you wonder when this country is really going to get well again.

Whatever the case, unless politics is conducted from the universal principle of fairness, the people will only suffer. At the same time, our industry also should see what has happened as an object lesson.

The Chinese scholar Wang Yangming (1472–1528) said that life is possible even without talent and knowledge as long as a person has virtue and feeling. Virtue is the trunk, he said, and talent is the branches and leaves. When virtue is greater than talent, you have a sage; when talent and virtue are combined, you have a saint.

At the very least, a top leader must be a sage.

The Japanese priest Dogen (1200–1253) said, “Life is an ephemeral state, and death is an ephemeral state, too. They are like winter and spring. Winter cannot become spring, just as spring cannot become summer.” He also said, “Mountains, rivers, and land; sun, moon, and stars; therein lies the heart.”

And Saigo Takamori (1827–77) taught us that “The way of humankind is the way of heaven. Human beings are the product of heaven, so the essential objective of people is to respect heaven. And since heaven loves others just as it loves itself, so you must love others just as you love yourself.” “Don’t take on other people,” he said, “take on heaven. Do your best against heaven, do not criticize others, and reflect on your own shortcomings. Loving yourself is the first evil. Failing in your studies, failing in business, being unable to correct mistakes, being boastful and arrogant, they are all the result of self-love.” Saigo also observed, “You cannot successfully make important decisions and negotiations unless you are the kind of person who does not need life, does not need a name, does not need rank, and does not need money.”

A top leader must have a philosophy. The root of that philosophy is surely the functioning of heaven and love for human beings. A firm root for looking at things and thinking about things is most important.