January 30(Sunday)

"Opening up Japan," "creating new bonds (kizuna)," and "a society with the least unhappiness" resonating with people in Davos


I am writing this entry on my way back to Japan from the Davos meeting (the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum).


Davos is a beautiful snow-covered town.  I spent a mere six hours there, but I had a very full program, delivering a Special Address as well as having various meetings and private talks with individuals.


In my address, I used, for the first time overseas, the phrase "opening up Japan," which I have been emphasizing since the start of the year.  I spoke of the spirit of opening up the nation, saying I wish Japan to have confidence in itself without becoming inward-looking.  In response many people, among the audience, at a lunch meeting I had with eminent persons, and elsewhere, expressed to me their great expectations toward Japan.  In addition, I introduced the idea of kizuna, or "creating new bonds," within my speech, using the Japanese word as is, because kizuna is really a wonderful word of which Japanese society can be proud.


Through this address I also unveiled outside Japan the expression "a society with the least unhappiness."  I had been somewhat worried whether or not people would understand the expression "the least unhappiness," as an expression not many people might be familiar with.  But having explained it thoroughly by citing Jeremy Bentham's "the greatest happiness for the greatest number" in the prelude to that idea, it really resonated well.  The expression "a society with the least unhappiness" is an original one I have been using since I was young, and it seems that it made a favorable impression on the audience just because of it.


There was a non-Japanese person who went out of his way to come talk to me in the lobby after the address, exclaiming, "That was a truly excellent speech," as he shook my hand.  Other people remarked that my address was quite philosophical.  I felt that I successfully demonstrated Japan's presence at Davos.


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