Fortune favours the brave
Pictured at the Japan Seminar are (l-r) Mr. Kimihiko Inaba- Executive Director - JETRO, Prof. Shujiro Urata - Waseda University, Mr Nauman Malik - CEO Kansai Plascon Africa, Mr Norihiko Manago- MD Toyota Tsusho Africa, Mr. Dries Lottering - Director Birdgestone South Africa, Mr Mike Whitfield MD Nissan South Africa and Mr Yoshiki Takizawa GM Mitsui & Co. Europe, Chairman of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industries in South Africa
by K Bhana
When Mr Soichiro Honda, a Japanese engineer and industrialist, set up his business in 1948 did he know that Honda would develop into a world renowned brand synonymous with motorcycles, cars and even boats among others?
He, as with many other brave Japanese innovators and entrepreneurs, created multinational businesses that more than monetary success, can be credited with developing technologies that required new skills and education and led to a plethora of dynamic employment opportunities and life long careers.
The time for courage is now, is the impression created by the seminar, ‘Local Industrialization in South Africa and the Contribution of Japanese Businesses – Lessons from the Far East’ hosted at the Gordon Institute for Business Sciences (GIBS) by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).
Japan is considered a leading economy in the world and was once ranked the second largest economy in the world. This is can be regarded as an extraordinary achievement for a nation that rose from the devastation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which ended WW2 and the humiliating defeat of Japan.
The current economic playing field is quite barren and fortune favours the brave, goes the adage. No guts no glory is another. Governments, with their well-intended policy making, have created just as many opportunities to find the loopholes and surreptitious practices that circumvent the system completely.
The consequences for a desperate soul that is caught stealing a loaf of bread is unfathomable when compared with the bailout a banker receives for flouting the regulations which drove entire nations into bankruptcy.
When creating policy or regulation, for example like BBBEE or localization, as was discussed at the seminar, does it impede or facilitate business, does it lead to collusive, anti-competitive and corrupt practices? Can regulation or policy be suspended until such time that enterprise grows to a point when regulation and policy become prudent and is beneficial to the wellbeing of the nation?
The policy of apartheid certainly left its scar on South Africa, a scar that is a reminder that inequality whether by race, gender or economic is unsustainable.
South Africa, like Japan, is ideally positioned to take the bold courageous steps to recreate their countries and allow the people the freedom to innovate and enterprise.
South Africa, in particular, is regarded as a modern nation just 20 years old. Its people had the courage to stand up to an evil dehumanising system and most of all had the courage to recognize that both the brutalized and brutalizer were victims.