Post-postwar

More on Japan: I read a nice article in the Wall Street Journal on my flight back from Taipei; “Buffett seeks acquisitions: Berkshire Hathaway zeroes in on firms in Korea, U.S. and the U.K” (Tuesday March 22, 2011, Business and Finance, p18).

We love Mr. Buffett, because through Berkshire Hathaway he bought the company that Geshe MIchael used to work (Andin) for at a price of over 200 million dollars (not bad, considering Andin started out with a $30,000 loan : ). The article mentions that Berkshire has $38 billion (38 billion!) in cash and cash equivalents to invest from the end of 2010. But this is the part I liked:

But he said the catastrophe in Japan won’t derail the “economic future” of the country and said that he’ll continue to maintain his investment in the world’s third-largest economy.

“The nine-eleven in 2001… the horrible incident didn’t change the future of the U.S. I feel exactly the same way after what’s happened in Japan. People in Japan have the same energy, they have the same desire to move on and the same resources to rebuild,” he said. “So, I don’t look at them differently from 10 days ago… Frequently, extraordinary events really create a buying opportunity.”

Yay! I love it. 🙂 Instead of sowing the seeds of fear, or trying to further a panic, he realizes the emptiness of the situation—anything bad can also be experienced as something good.

I’ve spoken to a lot of my friends about what i see in Japan—we’re (DCI) going back to Japan later this year—that they feel to me as if they’re on the cusp of something, perhaps some monumental change.

I recently read another article in the International Herald Tribune (“Post-postwar,” by Genichiro Takahashi, Monday, March 21, 2011, Editorial Opinion, p 6) that told me that the Japanese themselves are aware that they are at a point of crisis:

This disaster is the war many Japanese have been dreading, and expecting, for a long time.

Four years ago, an article titled “War Is Our Only Hope” appeared in a political magazine… “We need something to break this asphyxiating stagnation and set things in motion. War is one possible solution.”

For those of you who don’t know, Japan is a very traditionalist, conservative society. It took their loss in World War II to force them into making changes. Out of that loss, they asked for help, and got it: D— came over and helped them establish the most successful car industry in the world.

I feel like perhaps Japan in on the brink of another series of monumental societal changes. Nothing has changed there in so long, but they know something needs to change:

The television showed endless images of demolished towns; the numbers of the dead and missing climbed mercilessly upward into five digits; and refugees in dark gymnasiums lay trembling in the freezing cold, waiting for help. These are scenes from a war.

For the first time in his reign, Emperor Akihito made a televised address to the Japanese people. This, too, reminded us of his father’s radio address at the end of World War II, 66 years ago.

And now we are transfixed by the images of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; they’re emitting flames, exploding. When the first small, brown mushroom cloud rose, memories we had sealed off deep inside suddenly surfaced.

For 66 years, we lived the “postwar” life. Periodically someone would point out that the postwar period must surely be over by now—but yet it wasn’t. We had no other word to describe the present.

But now, finally,”war” has arrived. I told one of my friends, in Tarot card reading, drawing the death card doesn’t mean that you will die—rather, it implies that there will be change. When sometimes dies, something new takes it’s place.

Now, amid the chaos of the battle we are waging, we feel a familiar sense of exhilaration in the air, an intense feeling of solidarity. We can only wonder what the new Japan will look like.

I have a vision for what the new Japan could look like: one which believes in planting seeds. One that believes that to make money, you must be generous. One that believes that to be at peace, you must be peaceful. One which believes that the best way to compete is to help your competition.

One that believes to be wise, you must teach: one that could lead the way, to where the rest of the world could follow.

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