Table Speech

“A lovable future by LOHAS ”

April 4, 2007

Mr. Kazumi Oguro,

Thirty years ago, when I was gathering data in Europe, as an editor of a magazine, I met creative people and I noticed these people went to Africa or Amazon in their travels. After visiting Africa and Amazon, I found Africa is not an underdeveloped area but is an advanced area.

Amazon was very humid and is still in very chaotic situation. The capitalistic developed countries in which we belong to are situated between Amazon and Africa, as Africa is a dry land of the future as depicted in Star Wars.

That is why there are men who study philosophy in the middle of the desert, and it is said that all religions started from the desert.

I thought there were a lot of things to learn, and though traveling, finally built a hotel in Africa at Masai Mara in the middle of savanna about an one hour flight from Nairobi by Cessna plane.

I was about 38-39 years old and had a hard time because I did not have any experience of managing hotels. Managers of the hotels nearby were not Kenyans but white people. Indians controlled the major interests of the area. Savanna is a sacred place for the Masai and they live with animals there.

Because of the settlement policy of the Kenyan government, Masai people had to change to becoming farmers from cattle raising. Masai women had a hard time trying to save the crops from being eaten by animals such as elephants and giraffes.

Foreign owners of the lodges wanted to remove Masai from the National Park to protect the animals but I could not agree to this as I though it is wonderful that Masai live with animals. I realized that the thinking of white people were different and I had to have my own approach to the environmental issues.

We, Japanese, think that we are a part of Nature. I call it “Environment Genri Principle”. You should not consider that all enterprises are bad because they cause environmental problems and people suffer from it.

“Sotokoto May issue” covers energy problem and analyzed the situation in Europe. France is in favor of electric power generation by atomic power.

Germany is against it. Germany plans to dismantle atomic power plant over the next 20 years or so, and purchase electric power generated in France by atomic power.

What I wanted to discuss in this article was “Did Japan ever think of energy problem as it’s own problem?” If you are against atomic power generation, how you do you get enough electricity?

I started to publish this magazine eight years ago. I wanted to take up environmental issues, which was my main concern. Until then no magazine took up environmental issues as a major issue.

I started to publish “Sotokoto” with the hope that environmental issues should be studied same way as fashion and music by young people. “Sotokoto” means tree shade by the language of Bantu tribe of Africa.

At the beginning, sales did not grow. Then I found out there was a movement of “Slow Food” in Italy. In 1982, Mr. Carlo Betolini, an Italian food expert, started a movement against opening of the first McDonalds hamburger shop in Rome saying “Children will be soaked in McDonalds and forget the taste of mother’s food.”

Slow Food is a philosophy. In Italy, Italians are proud of their own local specialty, ham and cheese in each local area. In Italy, there is a trend to respect food of each locality and Slow Food is a movement based upon this background.

When we took this up in “Sotokoto” we received very good reactions from the readers.

At that time, when you say environmental issues, the normal subject would be dioxin, environmental hormone, chemical substances and people tended to stay away from such matters. But if you talk about environmental issues as matters of safety of food, and the future environment for the next generations, people tended to pay more attention.

When we took up Slow Food Movement as a special subject in the magazine, we targeted the women of 34-35 years old with one or two children, but it attracted the interests of a wide range of women readers. Then I understood women are very much interested in environmental issues and other new things.

When I was looking for a word to express new concept which represent new thinking like Slow Food, but not limited to “food” or “slow”, I came across a word “LOHAS”. LOHAS means Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability. This is a lifestyle giving priority to protection of environment of the Earth and Healthy Life and people who wish to live such a lifestyle.

In 1998, Mr. Paul Ray, an American sociologist and Sherry Anderson, an American psychologist studied more than one hundred thousand American consumers for more than ten years and they confirmed that a completely new class of consumers who are neither traditional nor revolutionary are emerging. They are the people called “Cultural Creatives”, who are keenly conscious of environment and health. There is a magazine called “LOHAS MAGAZINE”. The publisher is in Boulder, which is located in the Rocky Mountains. Boulder is said to be one of the three best cities where Americans wish to retire. So I visited Boulder to investigate. In Boulder, pedestrians have the right of the way. Taxes are spent freely to make open spaces in the city. So the prices of land go up. But city government and citizens have good relationship and people are practicing new style of life.

Every year, “LOHAS MAGAZINE” sponsors conference for ventures who have LOHAS thinking and venture capitalists.

In Boulder, there is a think tank called Naturally Boulder. The Mayor of Boulder is 44 years old.

The theme of the city is to attract many organic makers, which are presently represented by Horizon Milk, Seventh Carnation, Raidis Organic Bakery and others. The policy is to encourage industry in the area with one key word of the current new generation. The management of the companies which join Naturally Boulder are called Social Entrepreneurs because they are considered to be entrepreneurs who promote social revolutions.

Our hotel provides water to the people of Masai and helps transporting expecting mothers to hospitals. We also built a primary school in the town. Probably because of this I am classified as a social entrepreneur. Thanks to the help of the Association of Protection of Nature of The Federation of Economic Organizations, we are building a road in this area of Africa by human power without relying on machineries.

In Masai, there are Japanese women who are building kitchens stoves and Japanese youths who are digging a water well for the people. I believe traditional Japanese technologies are very useful for a place like Africa. I believe that if you use the key word, LOHAS, effectively in various areas properly, anew era will be created, and Japan will become an even better country.