Essentials for Life

One of the biggest reasons why I was back to my hometown is a summer music festival held in Hokkaido, but this summer is ending without the fest due to the COVID, the same as last year. I don’t intend to complain about it but am just worried about people working in the entertainment industry, not only musicians but also sound mixers, light controllers, stage arrangers, etc. in the case of music fests. Their field is more like the world of artisans, different from what many people imagine, and it’s very difficult to get back lost techniques. During the COVID pandemic, the present Japanese government leaves us to our fate in the name of self-help, and is cruel especially to the entertainment industry. It seems that things other than basics of life are thought to be unnecessary.

On the other hand, the measures of the German government are so good that I feel ashamed of my own country. They have earmarked 50 billion euros for small businesses and freelancers, including those from the cultural, creative, and media sectors; Japanese supplementary budget for cultural affairs last year was only 3 billion euros. The German Culture Minister, Monika Grütters said “Artists are bulwarks to protect democracy from totalitarianism and a sense of political helplessness by always asking “why” and pointing out any inconsistency from their rich imagination and spirit of experimentation.”

Furniture may be regarded as one of basic goods and a target industry of government support, but high-quality and rich-design furniture like our products would not. The same as the entertainment industry mentioned above (let’s leave aside the issue if our furniture is art or not), wooden furniture manufacturing industry is the world of artisans. There are still many manufacturing processes that can’t be taken over by machines. As the coronavirus recession continues, many small businesses including furniture manufacturers are fading away, and many skills of craftspeople will be lost forever in Japan.

Shungo Ijima

He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.

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