In the news on the internet and television, it was reported that Japan's nominal GDP, measured in dollars, fell to the fourth position, overtaken by Germany. The primary reason cited is the consumer trend toward savings, with personal consumption not expanding. However, I feel some resistance to labeling the savings mentality as the main cause of the GDP decline. Am I not mistaken?

Having lived in the United States, I do agree that Japanese consumers tend to focus on savings. However, doesn't this seem like a positive trait? It makes sense not to pour money into unnecessary things. It is true that Japanese society, when compared to countries like the United States, tends to be more frugal overall. I believe this frugality has been a key factor in Japan's economic strength. Despite the failures in housing policies, the Japanese people have supported the country by working hard, even though they end up with modest accommodations. To label frugality as the villain is just not fair!

In reality, I believe the true reason for this fall to fourth place lies elsewhere. It seems to be a struggle similar to what I have felt as a sake brewer. There is a strong resistance to growth, similar to the pressure faced by growing breweries like Dassai. It feels like there is a constant "aversion to growth," with others always sensing negativity when a business expands.

I think this aversion to growth is the real reason behind Japan's stagnant GDP. If there is an underlying resistance to evolution in the depths of one's heart, growth is unlikely. I believe that the Japanese tendency toward "shrinking" is the issue. This sentiment is particularly pronounced in rural areas and traditional industries. The slower economic development in rural areas, compared to urban centers, may not only be due to scale but also to a fundamental difference in mindset.

The heyday of high economic growth was probably good. Japan's economy could be sustained by discarding the rural areas while large corporations prospered. However, in recent years, as Professor Kazuhiko Tomiyama also suggests, local economies are the ones supporting Japan. With this perspective, it is evident that we all need to work together to bring about change.

The challenge lies in the fact that this tendency to shrink is hidden behind the concept of "effort" that Dassai emphasizes. It involves praising inefficiency by spending time on tasks and pursuing complicated finishes without regard to results. In a sense, this is a flaw in Japan's rural society that I have been trying to overcome through Dassai.

In any case, rather than just thinking about stopping the savings mentality and spending, what's crucial now is increasing our earning power.

Therefore, in my opinion, instead of targeting the savings mentality, we should target the tendency to shrink. To all the men out there, let's aim for an income that's twice what we get scolded for by our mothers and wives. I misspoke; it's not something only men can do. Let's work hard, adults of Japan, to leave a wonderful Japan for the next  generation.