迭espect the Divine and Love People

My personal motto is “respect the divine and love people.” I think the phrase was coined by Takamori Saigo, the great nineteenth-century samurai. Saigo is still very popular even today. I was born in Oita Prefecture in Kyushu (Saigo was also from Kyushu), and I remember being scolded in my childhood whenever I spoke of Takamori Saigo without giving him an honorific title.

My adoption of “respect the divine and love people” as a personal motto, however, actually has nothing to do with Takamori Saigo. I arrived at it as the backbone of my thoughts expressed after taking over this column.

We are apt to think about things in a self-centered manner. Generally speaking, people understand things and take action from the things that they can see right now, but I wonder if that is really the right way. The phenomena that we see around us have a profound background, and it seems to me that understanding them after becoming aware of the origin and true character of their background is the correct way.

As I just said, I came to Tokyo from the remote countryside of Kyushu. I had a hard time grasping the true character of Tokyo, an enormous city. When my brothers happen to visit Tokyo, it is very interesting for others to hear their talk about the big city after their return home. They have seen and experienced Tokyo superficially for just a few days, but they talk about it as if they know everything. Listeners, for their part, mix what they hear with what they see on television and read in magazines and draw their own picture of the distant capital.

Edo was opened by the Tokugawa shogunate and grew steadily into present-day Tokyo. As long as the country of Japan exists, so Tokyo will exist while continuing to transform. Edo was created by cutting down the Ochanomizu hill in one corner of the Kanto Plain and filling in the surrounding marshes. Before that, it had been an area of grand nature. Nature watched warmly over the flow of history from Edo to Tokyo. The heavens, including the universe, are nature, and the business of humankind exists within nature. Cities, and audio and visual products, are the momentary results of business.

Nature exists, and people exist. That is the starting point, the essence. It is arrogant to take nature for granted and take people for granted, and I do not believe such thinking generates ideas that take us closer to the essence.

When we can understand the greatness of nature, the flow of water from high to low in nature, the peacefulness of nature, and the wonders of nature, and when we can deposit an indescribable love of people deep inside us, then I think the confidence to challenge reality and the potential for the future will come into view.

The top-class company Schlumberger stresses the importance of spirit in corporate management, and it has been said that this spirit, like a religion, is its greatest asset and unique strength. Kazuo Inamori, the founder of Kyocera, writes in a Japanese translation of Ken Auletta’s The Art of Corporate Success: The Story of Schlumberger, which he supervised, that the more he read, the more he felt that the Schlumberger spirit was rooted in “respect the divine and love people.” (The title of the Japanese translation is Perfect Company.)

In our industry also, customers go about their business surrounded by nature, and products are created accordingly. Products that customers naturally want sell the best, but that only becomes possible when we have a deep love for customers.