Japan is the world’s first “super-aging” society with the highest proportion of older adults in the world, and our senior citizens and their families face various issues and challenges. Our company provides a range of services to address those issues and challenges as well as the things those people and their families want to do or get done. This is a field that is now a major priority for Japan due to its growing proportion of senior citizens, longer life expectancies, and declining birth rate, as well as the resulting changes in family relations.
As our name implies, our company started out in publishing, but we have managed to survive to this day by gradually adapting our business portfolio and format to the changing times. One of the biggest examples of this is how we shifted our focus toward online business around the turn of the century.
It would be nice if I could say we calibrated our business in anticipation of the new era to come, but the truth is we did it because we were in trouble, and I knew that the company’s survival depended on reinventing ourselves by venturing in new directions (I owe it to my father for dragging me into a company that was underwater!). Thankfully, the business landscape started to improve with the spread of the internet, and in 2015 we made a successful IPO. Since our listing largely freed us from restraints on hiring and capital, we proactively recruited new talent, and our business, while not exactly “booming” perhaps, is doing pretty well for itself. It’s tempting to say this is the reward for the sweat and devotion of our workforce and management, but that’s not the whole story.
The most elemental reason for the steady growth of our business is the robust social infrastructure available in our society. If you think of business as car, the first and foremost reason we can enjoy driving is that we have paved roads.
Although perhaps not the best of the world, Japan nevertheless is a country with abundant social infrastructure. Plenty of countries around the world are not so fortunate. Take South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Haiti for example. These are some of the world’s poorest countries and owing to various circumstances, they do not have the kind of ample social resources we enjoy in Japan.
I think it’s accurate to say that we are the ones who built our business. But who was it who built this great social infrastructure?
It was our parents and grandparents, our ancestors born and raised here, that built them. The prosperity of our country was once devastated when it made the terrible decision of going to war. From there, we worked to rebuild and recover, and eventually attained the affluent society we enjoy today, but the country paid an awful price. The death toll from the war was immense. That tragedy surely helped fuel our determination to be a peaceful nation, and I think it is safe to say that it was the ardent will of the surviving generation and their children that shaped Japan into the prosperous nation it has become.
Thus, the lives we live today rest upon the infrastructure assembled by these forefathers of ours. So when we take pride in running a successful business, it’s important to remember that we aren’t the only ones to thank.
In that sense, we have a number of obligations to live up to. First, we need to be thankful to the previous generation who laid the foundation for that success (I don’t want to wander off topic so I won’t elaborate further on that point now). Next, we need to remember that, just our forebears did for us, we too need to build a prosperous social infrastructure for the next generation. Consider it a duty that we all bear.
Our company provides services for senior citizens and their families. And as Japan’s “super-aged” society continues to grow, we in fact have an imperative to build the infrastructure for addressing that critical social issue. That’s the message I constantly preach to my teammates.
This is the bedrock upon which our company’s mission and vision stand. Our company exists for the purpose of assembling the infrastructure for our children’s and grandchildren’s generations. Sales and profit are the means of reaching our goal (like gasoline for a car), not goals unto themselves. Perhaps it’s because my living expenses have come down now that my children are grown up, but I’m starting to sound like a fundamentalist! (LOL).
Chairman and CEO
Kamakura Shinsho, Ltd.