Tsuruta’s Blog (April 2024)

Ladies and gentlemen,

How is everyone doing? The cherry blossoms have begun to bloom, and it’s become warmer. Taking my dog for a walk in the park every morning is a daily routine, but there are difficult days, especially when it rains. However, overcoming these hardships allows us to spend each day energetically. Recently, more foreigners have been coming to Japan to buy Japanese swords due to the significantly lower yen, making purchases easier. Some are even buying in the market alongside Japanese dealers, which makes me feel that it will become harder to buy good items in the future.

I found a sword dealer’s catalog the other day. It was over 30 years old, but filled with expensive items, which surprised me. These masterpieces will rapidly disappear, with foreigners taking them abroad for sale. Staring at a Japanese sword and soaking in its serene aura is quite ordinary. The sight of foreigners admiring Japanese swords is in no way inferior to that of the Japanese.

A foreigner asked me, “Mr. Turuta, what is ‘Jikei’? What about ‘Utsuri’ and ‘Tsukare Utsuri’? What is ‘Sunagashi’ and ‘Kinsuji’?” They inquire in detail, which is surprising. They ask about the differences between Kamakura and Heian period works, their shapes, and more. They study these diligently and make purchases seriously. This inquisitive attitude is impressive. It might differ from how Japanese interact among friends, but it seems to yield good results. More art pieces will flow from Japan to foreign countries. Recently, a complete set of Katsushika Hokusai’s works was auctioned for 500 million yen. The weaker yen and stronger dollar have made Japanese art cheaper.

Mr. Nikai of the Liberal Democratic Party announced he would not run in the next election due to political distrust from a factional funding issue, with a reported missing amount of 35.26 million yen over five years. This could lead to more distrust within the LDP, but it’s crucial for us to understand this misconduct and express our will clearly in the next election. Despite a temporary shift to opposition governance, the LDP has returned to power. The careless management of elections has led Japan into turmoil once again, now with controversy over party tickets.

What is happening to Japan? The current inactivity of the opposition is due to a lack of confidence in their action. Since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power, Mr. Ozawa took many politicians to China, but the purpose remains unclear. Various administrations have changed without fulfilling expectations, leading to confusion. Japan faces numerous critical issues, yet nothing seems to be resolved.

Previously, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries wasted 400 billion yen on a joint government project to build airplanes, including massive subsequent government and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry funding. Mitsubishi and other companies are planning to launch new ventures, despite past failures with nuclear ships and space development. The government should allow more freedom and avoid repeating these failures. For instance, Japan Airlines was pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by following government directives. Government involvement without understanding corporate performance can lead to significant mistakes. Various enterprises must take the initiative to avoid failure.

With the country’s declining population, it would be better to produce at lower costs with international participation. There’s no need for government-led national production of passenger planes, which tends to incur unexpected expenses and inefficiency. Previous efforts have resulted in deficits. Matters should be approached gradually, with the accumulation of effort being crucial.

Japan has missed opportunities in the jet age since 1973, with past joint passenger plane ventures between Mitsubishi and the government failing. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is proposing to start national passenger plane production, but I fear it might end up like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries if not handled carefully. Japan’s aviation industry could succeed without excessive government intervention, requiring proper design plans.

As Japan’s population declines, fewer people are working as hard as before. Recently, the price of Japanese swords has been rising, with foreigners buying and selling them abroad. Notably, individually famous swordsmiths, pieces with mountings, and tested items are being sold. My shop sees foreigners daily, now coming with correct knowledge and studying diligently. Purchasing a sword involves showing it to their children, explaining its significance, and discussing its future value appreciation. Currently, sword polishing and repair are extremely busy, making it difficult to undertake repairs.

I wish everyone well. Grandfathers and grandmothers, are you doing well? The cherry blossoms are nearly in full bloom. Fathers and mothers, please take your children to see the cherry blossoms in this lovely weather. Girls and boys, enjoy your play and be interested in everything. Be kind, lively, and strong children who don’t lose to others. Let’s create great politicians as citizens. Think carefully when voting in elections. Let’s improve politics together.

Don Quixote, Chairman Tsuruta Kazunari

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