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「士魂にして商才がなければならぬ」

The Soul of Japan

2009年3月28日(土)

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 渋沢栄一の同年代で、交流のあった新渡戸稲造。彼が「武士道」という言葉で、日本の精神を西洋社会に訴えたのは20世紀の初めでした。私たちが暮らす21世紀では、何を指して日本の精神と言えるのでしょうか。

 In feudal Japan, the warrior was the ruling class. During the 270 years of order and peace of the Edo Period, their code of conduct developed and was refined into characteristics such as loyalty, morality, respect, and honor. Though they lived off of the fruits of labor of the agricultural and merchant class, talking about money-making was seen as a despicable act.

 With the Meiji Restoration, this class put their swords to rest, yet their pride lingered. Around the turn of the 20th century, scholar-diplomat, Inazo Nitobe created the word, “Bushido” (The way of the warrior) in order to appeal to the West that “the soul” of this emerging power shared some common traits of chivalry and knighthood in Western societies.

 However, perhaps inadvertently, “Bushido” further engrained the notion that money-making was something that should not be considered as a part of the soul of Japan. This thinking still exists even in the 21st century Japan. Yet, Eiichi Shibusawa, who was Nitobe’s contemporary and acquaintance knew better. He strongly believed that “shikon” (the spirit of the warrior) also needed a dose of “shosai” (business sense), if Japan were to truly emerge as a global power in the 20th century.

出社してもお茶をすするだけの“元武士”に憤った栄一

 士魂と商才は相容れない思想であるという、一般的な常識に渋沢栄一が異論を唱えたのは、当時の世界情勢において、日本の危機管理のためには経済的な発展によって国力を増すことが不可欠だと確信していたからではないでしょうか。

 Eiichi originated from the agricultural-merchant class, but was trained in the discipline of the warrior class. As a teenager, Eiichi was infuriated by the local lord demanding higher taxes even though he did not lift a finger to produce the goods. Later, as a young man in the new Meiji government, he was despondent that bureaucrats of the former warrior class just sat around drinking tea all day long, without being productive.

 He probably saw many instances where the warrior class had clung on to their status in form, but in substance, the “soul” was indeed empty. The world during Eiichi’s time was a dangerous place, and if this condition in the society were to persist, then Japan as a country was at risk.

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日本全体として若い世代にもっと所得の分配をしていくべきだと思う。

川野 幸夫 ヤオコー 会長