The following excerpts are from a speech by Eiichi Shibusawa sometime during the Taisho Period (1912-1926), entitled “Urgency Regarding the Promotion of Vigor.” After the Meiji Period (1867-1912), Japan was a new global economic as well as military power, and enjoyed an era of unprecedented wealth and comfort. Yet, as an active contributor to Japan’s emergence and successes, Eiichi saw many problems in the Japanese society.
“In recent days, vigor in every class of our society has disappeared, and where advancements that should have been made, we have become clearly stagnant.” It appears that, in a sense, Eiichi believed that success was the reason for the recent failings. “The reason appears to be that the society has become rather proper and orderly, and people behaviors have become careful and conservative.”
“Just hoping to spend day to day within the confinement of safety is a condition that is gravely deplorable for our country’s well-being.” Eiichi strongly believed that “Our present standing in the world does not afford us the luxury of an era that values calmness and cautiousness.”
“The way of our nation should not be to protect the work that we have achieved so far, and to carry out these tasks without any mistakes. Rather we need plan on a grander scale, progress further, in order to stay competitive with the mighty powers of this world.” The memories of the threat for Japan to become a target for western imperialism were still fresh in the hearts of those from the generation that were active from the Meiji Restoration Period. This was something that seems to have started to fade within the new younger generation of the Taisho period.