Son Urges Solar-Powered Japan
Son Urges Solar-Powered Japan

Son Urges Solar-Powered Japan

Son Urges Solar-Powered Japan

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son article on the future of solar energy in post-quake Japan, and beyond – Agreed!

Our vote of confidence for the inspirational example being set here – trust Corp. Japan is watching too! [Eds]

Tsunami Clears Way for Solar-Powered Japan

I was shocked by the Great East Japan Earthquake. These days I carry a Geiger counter wherever I go, and I was surprised when I went to the Kansai area [southwest of Tokyo] last week and the device registered double digits like I had seen in Tokyo. Radiation now spreads beyond Tohoku and Kanto to the west as well.

One thing that I, as an operator of a cell-phone business, was reminded from this earthquake and tsunami is that although cell phones are wireless, stations are wired with optical fiber cables, and when these are broken or power fails, cell phones do not work at all. When we lose electricity and the network is crippled, cell phones are completely out of service.

Softbank phones also lacked sufficient functioning for receiving earthquake early warnings, so I have decided to equip nearly every phone in the future with this function.

In terms of recovery support, we are preparing to establish a foundation to aid and support disaster-hit areas, in hopes of bringing together the goodwill of the entire nation.

While I was wondering if there is anything I could do as an individual citizen in fields that do not necessarily have direct relation with my primary business, I launched a portal site specializing in recovery assistance in an effort to create a system that collaborates with local autonomies and non-profit organizations (NPOs).

The site joins forces with volunteers to develop tools to manage insufficient supplies to eliminate the imbalance of accumulated supplies not reaching those who truly need them, or a system that allows individual supporters to support individual evacuees in ways such as a certain volunteer visiting a certain evacuation camp to report on what supplies are needed. The site also provides information on evacuee reception, evacuation camps, NPOs and donations. The site is being accessed two million times a day, or 60 million a month, and that has made me feel the enormous demand for this service.

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred in 1995, which was when Yahoo! launched and the Internet was in its early stages. Cell phones had only spread to about 10% of the population and the ability to access the Internet from them was very limited. I had not yet entered the cell-phone business and in a sense considered it none of my business. But seeing cell-phone networks fail before my very eyes this time around, I was deeply shocked. Lives may have been saved had cell phones worked.

And looking at questionnaires filled out at disaster-hit areas, I found that many people wanted cell phones to work, more than they wanted food or anything else. This made me again think of my responsibility and my powerless was indescribably frustrating.

So I resolved that Softbank will offer earthquake orphans free cell-phone service until they turn 18 years old; all disaster-hit areas and evacuation camps will be given free public iPads; and I personally will donate 10 billion yen (US$130 million) together with my executive pay.

This Full Article by Softbank chief executive Son Masayoshi outlines the thinking of one of Japan’s most innovative capitalists and public-spirited citizens. Having helped create a competitive market in telecommunications, Son is seeking to liberate and “green” Japan’s 16 trillion yen electricity industry. He inaugurated his Japan Renewable Energy Foundation on September 12. The foundation, to be led by Tomas Kaberger, the former director general of the Swedish Energy Agency, includes a cast of international experts on renewable energy, associated support policies (especially the feed in tariff), and other aspects of the energy revolution.