Market Principles Are Not Always Right

Last month, the Ministry of the Environment announced that a butterfly species (shown in the above image) endemic to Japan might have been extinct. The butterflies inhabited only in the southern islands of Japan, and a massive decrease in their population has been seen for these 30 years due to predation by alien species of lizards brought in as a pet. This news is so depressing because I always feel like seeing ourselves in extinction creatures. It could happen to any of Japanese furniture manufacturers in the near future. Extinction businesses, different from creatures, may have to be ignored, being regarded just as the results of free market principles, but let me have my say with an example of insects.

In Japan in Heian period (794 – 1185), it was a hobby or art among aristocracy to listen to insect voices. Good grasshoppers, crickets, etc. were selected and gifted to the then Emperors, and there were people who made a living by catching insects to meet such a demand. Even now, we Japanese enjoy insect voices changing according to the four seasons, but currently it’s not that popular, and there’s no such industry (insect-catching) any more.

According to the domestic industrial stats, the production amount of the furniture industry dropped and has never returned to the previous level after the financial crisis in 2008, and now the same situation is happening due to the COVID.

Insect voices were replaced with many other hobbies after that time; furniture with craftsmanship is being replaced with mass-produced furniture. According to the free market principles, these are right things to happen, but can you be sure our lives get better? I can’t help but feel like we may just be losing a sense of appreciation for good things.

By Shungo Ijima 2020/09/09


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