ブログ

Vol.7 Koji Shimizu

□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■

Talk for Recovery

Talk #7 – Koji Shimizu

Director and Sales Manager, Marutoyo Food Company

■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□■□

 

1. An improbable sight through a window of my company

Komori: I really appreciate you taking your busy time. The series of talks about a recovery from Tohoku earthquake are approach to interview with people who are dedicatedly involved in activities for the recovery and to record their memories. The talks also deliver information about a real situation and difficulty as well as a direction of the recovery. Thank you for your help.

Shimizu: Thank you, too. Welcome to Kesennuma. I heard you come to our town every month.

 

tfr07-01

  

Komori: Yes. I provide an English class called“Komo’s English Reading-aloud Club ” in Rikuzentakata every month. Enjoying lunch together in Kesennuma on the way to Rikuzentakata is one of the pleasures for our staff. It was September in 2011 when I first visited Shishiori district. I remember there were scars by the earthquake even when a half year passed since the earthquake occurred.

Shimizu: I know. It’s been a year and 9 month since the disaster, but the situation is not good as you can see. Though debris is cleared, many foundations of destroyed buildings still remain and damage of subsidence is severe. The recovery seems to need more time.

Komori: Where were you when the earthquake and tsunami occurred?

Shimizu: I was on the third floor of this building (company building). I was sure that tsunami will come because the earthquake was so big. I wondered whether I should stay here or not. At the moment, I saw a stream of river near here flew back from sea. I decided to stay here because I thought this building might be safer than other places. After that, tsunami attacked this building rapidly.

Komori: You stood here looking at the town devastated by the tsunami from this window for a while, didn’t you?

Shimizu: Yes. The tsunami hit the first floor of this building. You can still see a brown scar caused by the tsunami on the outside wall between the first floor and the second floor. I was just hopelessly looking at the disaster which was happening right in front of me. I could not really believe that. It was beyond “scare for dread.”

tfr07-02

 

Komori: A big fire broke out in Shishiori district after the tsunami, didn’t it? I was one of the stranded commuters due to a stop of train in Tokyo at that night. So, I had to stay at my office. I watched the fire in Shishiori district through the internet TV. That was just a scene from hell. That was just an unimaginable scene. I never forget that. The fire fortunately did not come to this building, did it?

Shimizu: It was really by the turn of a hair. It burnt down a neighboring house. The fire came close at hand. We feared for our lives because of the fire and escaped from here to a safer place. It was really a horrible scene. On the next day, we came back here with fear.

tfr07-03

Komori: I cannot imagine how you felt when you saw Shishiori district just after the tragedy.

Shimizu: It was terrible. The district was littered with dead bodies in the devastated buildings and cars, or on the broken trees. Human dignity was completely lost. I carried many bodies. I can remember the weight of the bodies. It was an unbelievable tragedy.

Komori: I can’t find any words for it. All I can do is to pray for the victims of the disaster.

 

2. Fading memories of the disaster

Komori: It’s been a year and 9 months. I think it will take more time to recover in Shishiori district. What do you think of current situation?

Shimizu: Umm… I feel the memories of earthquake begin to fade. Though I recall the memories when I am asked, I usually don’t think of the disaster, because I can’t afford to think due to difficult livings and destroyed buildings have been taken away.

Komori: Indeed, I heard of words like “they couldn’t recall” everywhere. Not only people in other areas but also people in the devastated area said their memories began to fade while the debris was cleared. In the first place, there are many people who don’t want to recall the memories.

Shimizu: Scars which indicate that “tsunami came here” also have been cleared. Because a ship “The 18th Kyoutokumaru,”which climbed onto the ground in Shishiori district by the tsunami, is still there, people can remember the tragedy. But, the disposal of it has not been decided yet. Actually, there is a strong call against the conservation.

Komori: It is a delicate problem whether so-called “Remains of the earthquake disaster”should be disposed or conserved. Finally, there are more cases of disposal than conservation, because the local government gives a consideration to voices that “people don’t want to recall it,”and takes into account both costs for the conservation and risks for accidents.

Shimizu: It is true, but, I think something should be conserved. If it is not, there are no chances to give images of the great tsunami to people in other areas, because even we become to forget it. The remains also stimulate people in other areas to visit here.

 

tfr07-04

 

Komori: I heard local people got upset about heartless behaviors of visitors to the remains. They just got off buses, took photos and then went away without a pray for the victims. No offense, but local people have mixed feelings about it.

Shimizu: It is right. However, the fact “People in other areas visit our town” is very important for the recovery in the disaster areas. More importantly, they can have firsthand information about “what happened.” We should decide to conserve some symbolic things, while we should take into account local people’s feelings. I heard there were many adverse opinions against Hiroshima Peace Memorial(Genbaku Dome) was very big at first.

Komori: It is very difficult for all local people to agree on the treatment of the remains. Someone must take leadership to decide whether conserved or not. We have two choices, whether we will promote the reconstruction with the remains of disaster or we will challenge a creation of new value without the remains.
3. Tough reality “Competition under the equal condition”

Komori: To change the subject to a normal life, how about a business reconstruction of Marutoyo Food Company you run? I think it is very difficult for your company to recover by itself because it is categorized in a marine product processing industry which is influenced by the degree of recovery in whole Kesennuma’s marine industry.

Shimizu: The industry in Kesennuma is still sinking in a very low level. Sometimes, we have some good news about a good landing of fish. But, it takes more time to return to a pre-disaster level, including industrial refrigerators around a harbor. Our future is in uncertainty, though we slowly restart to produce.

Komori: I understand a slowdown of marine industry in Kesennuma influences heavily Marutoyo’s future.

Shimizu: More seriously, a competition in the industry is very hard.

Komori: So, sales for customers are very tough.

Shimizu: Negative impact from a blank period after the earthquake disaster is very serious. Our business is mainly B to B (Business to Business) wholesale. Retailers have been silently changing their partners to other wholesalers during our stop of produce. We have no chances, because retailers have to do business and our competitors do hard work to fill the blank. After all, we can’t find any spaces for us in “B to B” market.

Komori: It is really tough.

Shimizu: Competition is a market principle even for companies in the disaster areas. We should go into the market and compete under the equal condition. And we must win the competition. This is essential for a process of recovery. This is reality.

 

tfr07-05

 

Komori: You have to compete with rivals under the equal condition, even when you are suffered. Moreover, in this situation, you can never recover lost sales, even when you reproduce values you produced before. I can understand what you said, because my company also competes in “B to B” business in a different industry. Do you have any supports from the local government?

Shimizu: It is natural that we want to use property whatever we can get, though individual company should compete with rivals. However, a system of granted supports is sometimes uneasy to use.

Komori: What does it mean?

Shimizu: For example, we have a support that sufferers pay in advance before they get subsidy. In reality, there are many cases that they don’t have enough cash for payment at first. We have several programs for subsidy, but it is a dilemma that few can use them. Against such circumstances, we struggle with documents for subsidy very hard. We think that necessity knows no laws. So, we basically thank for the subsidy.

Komori: A local government may prepare a strict process in order to prevent from illegal recipients due to an abuse of the system. However, I think there are some problems, when I think of an origin point that only using subsidy serves a purpose. It is a serious problem because time can’t wait.

Shimizu: At one side, we have to put up with a slow pace for the recovery, at the other side, we are forced to compete with rivals in the equal condition. Against these two burdens, we struggle to proceed forward very hard. We must go forward, because complaints can produce nothing.

4. Transmitting information toward people in the other areas with entrepreneurship

Komori: Against that situation, you sometimes hold events in Tokyo. I found it in Facebook.

Shimizu: We try to hold a sales event in Tokyo several times. We are planning to hold it in Kobe where our many supporters live. We have already held them 8 times, recently in Higashimurayama and Meguro.

Komori: How was the reaction?

Shimizu: Thankfully, many people visited the events. I really appreciate it. Now, our company is groping for a way to do “B to C” business (Business to Customer) through a trial and error process, though our company mainly does business in “B to B”.

Komori: You have shown a strong entrepreneurship under heavy adverse circumstances.

Shimizu: We have yet realized a possibility for success in “B to C” business in Tokyo. But, this process is getting important as to delivering information at least. It is not enough to hope only to remember the devastated areas, because a memory of the disaster is fading over the time. We need to go and tell a current situation as well as plant a seed for business.

Komori: You try to find something thorough a communication, and a trial and error process, don’t you?

Shimizu: Yes. I think that delivering of information via SNS (Social Networking Service), such as Facebook, is getting important. I am glad to build a relationship with many people through Facebook. In addition, Facebook has a strong possibility, as it can provide the opportunity to stimulate people outside to go to Kesennnuma, visit a company and see someone.

Komori: Indeed, our connection between you and me is brought by Facebook. I really want to see and communicate with you, as I saw your posting information and commented it. It was last month to visit you for the first time. I have a good opportunity to see you again, today. But, I feel sorry, because my visit doesn’t directly mean a starting for business.

Shimizu: We feel it is really important to have visitors who are interested in our town. A new encounter cheers us up. I hope many people will visit us.

Komori: Do you find any seeds for the future?

Shimizu: In reality, it is all at sea. We continue to provide information via Facebook, etc. and hold exhibitions in big consuming cities, such as Tokyo. Yet, we are not sure it is getting better. Even under the uncertainty, we have to do something, believing our effort for recovery will bear fruits. We have to find something, believing our action will bear fruits.

 

tfr07-06

 

Komori: It is a creation of new value in a fair competition under the adverse circumstance, isn’t it?

Shimizu: Yes. We should do our best.

Komori: I am truly going to support you. I continue to think of what to do, while I visit here every month. I have decided to come here every month for at least ten years. I hope our efforts will bear fruits.

Oh, I should end the today’s meeting, as I will bother you in busy afternoon. Thank you very much for exchanging the honest opinions and true feelings. I shall come again.

(End)
Translation by Yoshinori Kamiya.  Administrative support by Yumi Shimono.

  • このエントリーをはてなブックマークに追加

関連記事

アーカイブ

ページ上部へ戻る