Statement by Takeshi Niinami, Chairman of Keizai Doyukai on Passing of Mr. Jiro Ushio, Former Chairman of Keizai Doyukai
June 21, 2023
Chairman, Keizai Doyukai
I offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Mr. Jiro Ushio, former chairman of Keizai Doyukai.
Mr. Ushio joined Keizai Doyukai in 1959. After supporting the three chairmen (Mr. Tadashi Sasaki, Mr. Takashi Ishihara, and Mr. Masaru Hayami) as a senior member in the 1970s and after, Mr. Ushio was appointed chairman of Keizai Doyukai in April 1995. Called as a "best person to take a leadership role in the time of change," he took office after Mr. Hayami, and had been advocating revitalization of Japanese economy in the 21st century, with a focus on "participation in international economic management" and "redesigning of the market."
Keizai Doyukai led by former Chairman Ushio saw a bubble burst in Japanese economy, with non-performing loans piling up at banks. Meanwhile, the world economy had geared up for its globalization, leading to a further market integration. In the times when Japanese unique economic system was requested to go through a drastic transformation, Mr. Ushio, with a strong sense of urgency and a commitment to reforms, stressed a need for a transition of the Japanese economic system to that of a transparent market economy, managed under the common rules of the advanced countries. He announced the "declaration of market principles," and sought corporate behavior based on the market principles as its most important foothold. His "principles" had drawn a big attention inside and outside Japan.
In his efforts to pursue structural reforms that incentivize private-sector initiatives, Mr. Ushio had positively supported and backed up the six-pillar full-fledged reforms--administrative, fiscal, social security, economic structure, financial system, and education--upheld by the administration of former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. In addition to publicizing proposals and opinions, Keizai Doyukai led by former Chairman Ushio had sent its key senior members to government's various councils, and they had assumed executive responsibility for the privatized institutions. Looking back on those days, Mr. Ushio once said, "These members had played an active role in the frontline of business liberalization in a collaborative manner, just like the actors and actresses of the popular musical Cats." Keizai Doyukai had shown its true worth, as a policy group leading the reforms.
His stance in the market principles--companies must break away from interdependence, and manage businesses with their own will and responsibilities in a creative manner--was a concept symbolic to Keizai Doyukai as a start of the new era. Indeed, Mr. Ushio wrote another important page in the history of Keizai Doyukai.
On the operations front, Mr. Ushio had placed significant emphasis on enabling young business managers, new members, and foreign members to actively join the discussions, as he believed it would foster them, and participations of diverse members would lead to in-depth discussions.
In public lectures, Mr. Ushio had often talked about the importance of (1) self-caution, quoting "To be good rather than to do good" and "Zokubō wo sute, gabō ni ikiyo" or "Live a life of nobleness, not of vulgarity" (2) a motto "Kiri no naka wo ayumeba, oboezaru ni koromo shimeru" or "You will be influenced by the environment without even recognizing it" and (3) encounter and bond with people. Mr. Ushio's such personal magnetism explains why he had attracted so many people within and beyond business and political community, across the generations.
Today, the Ukraine crisis has placed the international order and the world economies in a challenging situation. Meanwhile, Japanese economy has faced a last opportunity for its transformation. The chairman of Keizai Doyukai is now requested to pursue innovative disruption and break away from common knowledge, as Mr. Ushio had done during the times of great change. We will endeavor to build sustainable society by overcoming the crisis, empowered by Mr. Ushio's will. Keeping his memories alive, we vow to the will of Mr. Ushio, who had contributed to the development of Japanese economy, that we renew our commitment to make lifelong efforts and contribute to building new Japan, by continuing to resolutely take on the challenges of the reforms.
May the soul of Mr. Ushio rest in peace.