Yoshito Hori speaks about leadership lessons with enthusiasm in a suit and tie

“What do you expect from young, private-sector entrepreneurs?”

I posed this question about a month ago to a politician over a meal―a man believed by some to be the next prime minister. He is nearly impossible to meet, and so I seized this opportunity to exchange opinions.

When I asked him this question, I thought he would expect election support, participation in the planning policy group for the party, or financial donations, things like that, but unexpectedly, he answered:

“I want people to speak up more. I want them to openly and publicly say what they are thinking. People in the business world tend to hold back too much when it comes to politics.”

Ever since hearing this reply, I have made it my business to be much more active in speaking up regarding politics. My opinion may be wrong, exposing my ignorance or arousing the antagonism of others, but I have simply decided as a Japanese person to speak my mind.

Just as I made this decision, two important things happened in the government: the rejection of a postal system bill and the dissolution of the lower house of parliament. I am viewing these events with the expectation that, finally, there will be forward movement in politics. Until now, the strength of the opposition has prevented reforms. Now that there is progress, I feel it is my duty to speak out as a citizen.

I am essentially for the privatization of Japan Post. If structural reform does not take place, Japan will falter. If the status quo is allowed to continue for our postal system―also the world’s largest bank and life insurance company―will continue to be run by government officials, and I just do not think this will work. Furthermore, if we do not stop the massive redirection of its funds into fiscal investment and loan programs without any accountability, the restructuring of Japan can never take place.

As the citizens of Japan toil away and make imaginative, creative efforts to revive the country, they can only be frustrated with the reality of government officials enjoying high salaries, their jobs secure while tax money is used inefficiently. There will be no tomorrow for Japan unless we cut deeply into the public sector and undertake civil service reform.

I endorse the concept of small government and agree with the shift from the public sector to the private sector.

After reforming the postal service, the next items on the list for reform are the civil service, government-related financial institutions, fiscal reform, tax reform, and the pension and welfare systems. Right now, the absolute best scenario would be for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to eliminate reform resistance, and for the election to be contested solely among diet members who endorse reform.

I think most of the population wants a new LDP whose members all support reform, and for Prime Minister Koizumi to push forward with additional reforms. I hope and pray that the main body of the new LDP system will be comprised of young people who think ahead, who will eliminate the irrational and deteriorating tax system that is oriented toward foreign investors, among other reforms.

I also have a lot of friends in the Democratic Party who want to see things change. If they’re serious, then let’s see it. They shouldn’t worry about the support base―they need to say what they think is right, put it into action, and suggest reform as a responsible political party.

One hears a lot of noise from journalists about the LDP being in crisis and the breakup of the LDP. The choice for voters is simple: do you or do you not want reform?

I intend to cultivate a political movement with my young entrepreneur associates. This does not mean, however, that we will be involved in any political party, nor will we support specific politicians.

We advocate the following three points:
(1) Vote.
(2) Promote reform.
(3) Speak up.

Perhaps we could name this group the Young Entrepreneurs’ Society―YES.

Today, a great many young entrepreneurs are blogging. They are starting to mobilize the genuine power of speech, and the people who read their blogs are the same generation that allegedly does not vote. We want to appeal to these people with the following three points:

Are you going to vote? YES!
Do you want reform? YES!
Do you want to speak out more? YES!

If people who have never voted before began to participate in politics, surely the world would become a different place. I believe it’s necessary to create opportunities for people like this to come into contact with lots of opinions and to present materials, as well, which they can judge for themselves.

We young entrepreneurs intend to continue sharing our opinions. I get the feeling that things could change if we take action right now. Japan must be changed by our own hands.

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