Table Speech

Powers of Vision

May 18, 2016

Mr. Soichi Shirayama
President, Tokyo Optical Co., Ltd.

 In Japanese language, there are more than 30 kanji characters with the reading “miru (to view).” There are also multiple terms and idioms that describe the action “to view” in other languages, including English, that proves its importance. Human beings are said to get 80% of information through their eyes.

 There are two types of visual acuity. Static visual acuity is the common measure used to assess how well we can distinguish detailed images on a stationary target, like the eye chart placed about five meters away. In our daily life, however, we spend much longer hours viewing something while our body is in motion. This is why we unconsciously use various different eye functions, including “accommodation” to maintain focus on an object as its distance varies and “convergence” to look at a closer object by rotating our eyes towards each other. Dynamic visual acuity defines the ability of the eye to discern fine detail in a moving object. Peripheral vision is another visual function that detects objects in the “visual field” outside the very center of gaze. My speech today focuses on “visual field” that might be a new topic for some of you.

 “Visual field” is the entire visible area when the eye is directed forward. Humans have 180-degree horizontal and 130-degree vertical range of visual field. We can distinguish detailed shapes and subtle shades of color in our “central visual field,” which is 5 degrees around the line of sight. In the wider “peripheral visual field,” we can only get a hazy vision.

 When we drive faster or around unfamiliar places, we tend to keep our eyes fixed on the road ahead and concentrate on the “central visual field.” We fail to focus on the “peripheral visual field” and this is why we feel our vision narrows as our speed increases. Pinhole glasses block all of the peripheral light so only the central light rays are seen. Now if we try to hit a target with a ball wearing pinhole glasses, we lose control of the ball and miss the target. This is because peripheral vision is vitally important to maintain our sense of balance. The old teachings in kendo (Japanese art of fencing) place utmost importance on the eyes. The great swordsman Miyamoto Musashi wrote Gorinsho (Book of Five Rings) and taught that you must step back and look at the whole picture from the smallest things to the largest to get true understanding. This exactly tells the importance of peripheral vision.

 Sports vision is a comprehensive term that combines the three elements of static visual acuity, dynamic visual acuity and peripheral vision. Current routine eyesight tests only assess static visual acuity through “central visual field.” I advise to introduce a more comprehensive sports vision test to contribute to anti-aging care and to improve our quality of life.

About Yunus Social Business

May 18, 2016

Mr. Akira Takahashi
Managing Partner, Avergence Inc.

 The primary objective of a social business is to solve social problems in a self-sustainable way. Dr. Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh advocates and promotes Yunus Social Business (NSB) under seven principles that aim to tackle social issues and to “do it with joy.” The third principle is characteristic in stipulating that “Investors get back their investment amount only. No dividend is given beyond investment money.” Investors therefore engage in social contributions and service activities.

 In NSB model, businesses do not have to focus exclusively on making profits for their shareholders nor provide dividends. They can reinvest their profits to achieve one or more social objectives and therefore, can concentrate on solving various social issues more promptly, effectively and consistently. It is a “non-loss, non-dividend” business model where investors renounce the acceptance of dividends as well as fund initiatives to tackle pressing social issues purely out of their sense of pride and joy.

 Dr. Yunus majored in economics, resolved to work towards poverty eradication for his homeland Bangladesh. After receiving his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in the U.S.A., he returned home where he met Sophia Khatoon in a tiny village of Jobra to witness livelihoods of many village mothers trapped in a cycle of poverty. Dr. Yunus suggested to provide interest-free and collateral-free loans to women in the village. 42 women responded and he lent 27 US dollars of his pocket money to them. This experience eventually led to the establishment of the Grameen Bank in 1983. Dr. Yunus expanded and institutionalized his microfinance operations exclusively for the poor. In 2006, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to lift millions out of poverty. The number of borrowers jumped from the initial 500 to 8 million (as of 2014), of which 97% are women.

 Dr. Yunus also launched a new business model to enhance poverty eradication through fostering major initiatives, especially in the fields of health, medical care, environment and education. Based on the lessons gained through the Grameen Bank, he developed the concept of “social business” and disseminated throughout the world to go beyond profit-seeking towards making significant contributions to the society, which later evolved into NSB. The Grameen family of organizations originated from the Bank to expand into a multi-faceted group of profitable and non-profit ventures. Its membership keeps growing, with participation of many large global companies.

 Also here in Japan, Professor Masaharu Okada of Kyushu University Yunus & Shiiki Social Business Research Center has been playing an instrumental role since 2009 in conducting research, education and information dissemination on NSB as well as assisting incubation of social business start-ups. Eight companies have been accredited as NSB by last year. We need to further improve recognition and understanding on NSB as well as expand financial supporters and investments. Dr. Yunus is familiar with the Japanese traditional Ohmi merchant philosophy of “sampoh-yoshi (three-way excellence)” that emphasizes the importance of satisfying the “sellers, buyers and the general public.” I think many Japanese people are receptive to the concept to live in coexistence with the society.