I recently attended a “Fukushima Revitalisation Seminar” organised by the Japan Local Government Centre (CLAIR) London hosted by the Japanese Ambassador. We heard Sir David Warren speak about his experiences as the British Ambassador in Japan at the time, from the Vice Governor of Fukushima Prefecture about the steps they are taking towards Revitalisation and also from Anne Kaneko, a business woman who ran her manufacturing company from there.
Of particular interest to potential investors was hearing about the stringent food safety inspections taking place on all products grown there making them “the safest food in Japan” plus Fukushima’s goal of making renewable energy the main focus of their energy mix for the future. The Fukushima Renewable Energy Institute opened in April 2014-a research hub to promote R & D in this area with international links.
It was also very poignant to see how many people are still displaced from their homes and very evident that Fukushima is still being equated with its nuclear legacy regardless of the hard scientific facts. We got a chance afterwards to taste the Award Winning Sake from Fukushima and see a wonderful display of Okiagari Koboshi dolls which had been decorated, amongst others, by Prime Minister Abe and several famous Japanese Premiership Footballers. These dolls, shaped in a way so they always come back up, are given at New Year to bring prosperity and luck and have since been used as a symbol of Fukushima’s perseverance and resilience-two qualities that are respected very highly in Japan. Symbolism is an important part of Japanese life as are their numerous good luck charms and rituals associated with them.
What moved me was Anne Kaneko’s story of how her business was in the process of being bought out at the time of the disaster. Although they lost many customers on the coast, the Japanese buyer still honoured the price agreement and the sale went through not long after the disaster struck. This, to me, captures an honourable aspect to business in Japan-once an agreement is made, it sticks even under such unendurable circumstances.