by K.S., ARUN Office in Tokyo
Ura no Kido wa Aiteiru from a collection of short stories Hitogoroshi, by Yamamoto Shugoro, Published in 1972
When I looked for some books to introduce on this blog that are helpful to know about social investment, the historical novel by Shugoro Yamatomo, ‘Ura no Kido wa Aiteiru’ came to my mind.
This short story is about a samurai, Takabayashi Kihee; a chief cashier in an imaginary feudal domain in the Edo period. It was firstly published in Kodan Kurabu magazine, in 1955.
-I am now in a patrol so I would like to check with you briefly, but is it true that you are secretly doing something like lending money? That is claimed by several letters posted in a complaints box placed in front of the Supreme Court.
This ‘something like lending money’ seems to be like microfinance, but as it is not expecting any profit, it is not like that, and it also seems to be like donation, but as the persons who borrow money recognize the necessity of its return, it is not like that. So perhaps does this mean social investment? Then I read the book again.
-Why are you doing this? Gozaemon asks. Why did you start such a thing?
-That’s because… Kihee speaks in a low voice; I was thinking that it is better to give stopgap measures to people who are starving even that day to stave off hunger pains.
-That’s a shallow idea. Saburoemon warns him. Your action is seemingly helping out those people, but actually it promotes them not to work. If they know that you are helping out to stave off hunger pains even though they are reduced to poverty, such law ranked people tend to be lazy, but even so your action encourages them to lose their guts to work hard. Let’s say not all the people, but I strongly believe that at least some people, one or two people out of ten, will do that .
In addition, Gozaemon continues, if they are both expected either returning money or not, some will gradually think that they will be allowed not to return their money.
-What do you think about that? Saburoemon asks. Have you thought that your action based on a shallow idea has some possibilities to be harmful against your will?
In my opinion, the interesting point of this story is; this Kihee DOES NOT have a view that humans are inherently good.
He believes humans are hopelessly weak, and actually he perceives human nature from the similar masculine point of view to Gozaemon and Saburoemon that; those weak people should be leaded and adopted a right one. The only difference should be that, like Gozaemon and Saburoemon, they conclude that to overcome the weakness of humans, there needs to be this, and based on that they take action. On the other hand, like Kihee, he does not draw a conclusion and thinks that his action is only a hypothesis of his idea.
As a member of ARUN, which has been doing many experiments, searching for the ‘ideal form’ or ’absolute right answer’ of social investment, I feel familiar with this story.
The keyword of the social investment of ARUN is ‘sustainability’.
Why investment, not donation? My brief answer is; investment requires that both investors and investees keep committing each other and that is the merit of the investment. From this point of view, I judge that the action of the Takabayashi Kihee; lending his own money without any expectations of return, has less sustainability as an investment and is not the professional way. But the Kihee himself thinks that I will keep doing this as long as possible. He seems to recognize the importance of sustainability.
Another important keyword of ARUN is ‘independence’ and from the point of view Kihee’s action is not satisfactory; that even after the investment from ARUN ends, whether the investees can be independent or ARUN stops investing in them, they have an ability to search another investor to get necessary funds.
The evidence is that, he was disliked by people in higher ranks like Gozaemon and Saburomon. Also he was scolded by his wife, and what is more…, Oh, I will not be a spoiler.
Comparing this story, we realize how good the scheme of today’s social investment is, which did not exist when Takebayashi Kihee was alive.
I recommend the historical novel by Yamamoto Shugoro. It looks back on the era when the concept of social investment did not exist, and shows you the importance of social investment.