Rebuilding a Nation
They say that entrepreneurs can withstand most anything— economic downturns, industry crises, surging competitors. On 11 March, countless Japanese were faced with a crisis so unimaginable that it tested our will as a community. On a typical sunny afternoon, Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami, which pulverized cities and killed more than 20,000 people, many of whom are still under search.
Roughly 200,000 houses and buildings were destroyed, and many companies sustained catastrophic damage from the disaster. Due to the suspension of production in devastated areas, this disaster disrupted the supply chain of many Japanese businesses. At the same time, the politicians were repeating mistakes, and the administration quickly became unstable. Stock prices decreased sharply and world media announced a Japanese economic decline.
Still, hope abounded. EO Japan went above and beyond to support their community. Several Forums headed for devastated areas immediately after the disaster, supplying evacuees with goods needed to sustain daily life. Furthermore, EO members donated their time and money in support of relief efforts. The power of the EO network was on full display, and it made the recovery much easier.
As a chapter, we worked hard to address the economic issues that stemmed from the crises. We held a special meeting to discuss how we would survive the tough business conditions, and each idea for recovery was very good. We realized that the most important thing we could do is focus on our own businesses to contribute toward a faster economic recovery. We would “go global” using Japan’s competitive edges—like hospitality, good service and technology—and continue to make quality products. Furthermore, we would support one another as needed to ensure that all of us did our part in rebuilding not just our businesses or communities, but the nation.
Though we’re still working on recovery efforts, things are looking up. As of July, the Japanese economy has pulled around and stock prices have recovered. Looking back, this entire experience taught me how invaluable my EO community is, as well as how transient life can be. I realized that we should all live in the present, and that it is very important to be prepared for sudden crises, especially as it impacts employees and customers. As a country and people, Japan has always been resilient, and I’m confident we’ll continue to grow into a strong and united country.
Naoto Tomida is president and CEO of Innovation, Inc. Visit www.innovation.co.jp or e-mail Naoto at