Photo of Mike Hayashi

Jodie Chiemi Ching
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Call it a business manager’s “dojo (practice hall) of life.” Seiwajyuku Hawai‘i integrates gratitude, karma and the development of a beautiful mind prioritized through marketing, policies and procedures and financial goals.

Seiwajyuku, which, translated, means “school of prosperity and harmony,” was established in 1983 by Japanese philanthropist and entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori, founder of one of Japan’s major businesses, Kyocera Corporation (previously known as Kyoto Ceramic Co., Ltd.). In 2015, Inamori was awarded an honorary doctorate by the EMLYON Business School, a leading business school in France. There are currently 80 Seiwajyuku schools worldwide — in Japan, Hawai‘i, Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Chicago, New York, China and Brazil — with a combined membership of 10,000.

In 1983, six young business owners in Kyöto approached Inamori, wanting to learn his philosophy of life and management. In no time, business owners from Ösaka were traveling to Kyöto to learn from Inamori. The group grew to 50 members.

The establishment of Seiwajyuku spawned new branches across Japan. Study groups began sprouting up in Köbe, Shiga, Kagoshima and Tökyö. The growth prompted Inamori to establish Seiwajyuku’s headquarters within Kyocera in 1988.

At the core of Seiwajyuku is Inamori’s belief that developing business managers with kokoro (heart) will help make the world a better place in which to live. He also believed that living “the right way”as a human being would bring happiness to the employees and prosperity to the company. Based on those basic beliefs, he developed his “12 Management Principles.” They are:

1) Clearly state the purpose and mission of your business. Set high objectives that are noble, just and fair.

2) Set specific goals. Once targets are set, share them with all of your employees.

3) Keep a passionate desire in your heart. Your desire must be strong and persistent to penetrate into your subconscious mind.

4) Strive harder than anyone else. Work steadily and diligently, one step at a time, never relenting in tedious tasks.

5) Maximize revenues and minimize expense. Measure your inflow and control your outflow; don’t chase profit, but let it follow your effort.

6) Pricing is management. Pricing is top management’s responsibility. Find that one point where customers are happy and the company is most profitable.

7) Success is determined by will power. Business management requires persistent “rock-piercing” will.

8) Possess a fighting spirit. Management requires a more combative mentality than any martial art.

9) Face every challenge with courage. Be fair and never deceive others.

10) Always be creative in your work. Innovate and improve continuously. Today should be better than yesterday, tomorrow better than today.

11) Be kind and sincere. Business is based on partnerships and must bring happiness to all parties.

12) Always be cheerful and positive. Hold great dreams and hopes in the pureness of your heart.

Seiwajyuku made its way to Hawai‘i in 2009, thanks to the perseverance of Takae Okuma-Johnson, who had previously worked for DDI (now KDDI) in Japan, a Japanese telecommunications company that Inamori had founded. After leaving DDI, Okuma-Johnson had settled in San Diego, where she was doing some publishing work. In 2004, she met Inamori for dinner in San Diego, where they discussed numerous subjects, including the progress being made with Seiwajyuku. Okuma-Johnson was impressed with Seiwajyuku’s infinite possibilities.

Fast-forward to 2008 and America’s “Great Recession,” which Hawai‘i was feeling in its own way. The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce’s International Committee was discussing ways it could help revive Waikïkï’s visitor-driven economy. By then, Okuma-Johnson and her husband had settled in Hawai‘i. She suggested that the chamber invite Inamori to Hawai‘i to share his business philosophy. She even flew to Kyöto to meet with him and to personally ask him to share his Seiwajyuku philosophy with Hawai‘i’s business people.

Inamori was no stranger to Hawai‘i — he had enjoyed his vacations in the Islands. But he did not see Hawai‘i as a place where business leaders would embrace his philosophy.

“Hawai‘i is not a place for me to teach,” he said. He didn’t think Hawai‘i companies and their employees would follow a philosophy that required diligence and hard work. Okuma-Johnson refused to give up. She told him about the many small businesses, especially local mom and pop establishments, which were in danger of closing. Inamori, however, was firm in his decision and they parted with Okuma-Johnson deeply disappointed.

The next day, he invited her to sit in on a meeting at Kyocera with DDI founding members and a national newspaper. After the meeting, he told Okuma-Johnson that he might be able to stop in Hawai‘i on his way back to Japan following a talk and meeting with business people at the University of California at Berkeley. He asked her to assemble a group of business people and to organize a forum. Okuma-Johnson was elated!

She immediately got to work after returning to Honolulu. With the assistance of the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Richard Matsu, then-executive vice-president of Marukai Corporation USA, they began planning for the first Inamori Forum. The businesses involved in that first study session in late 2008 included Sun Noodle, Aloha Tofu and The Cherry Company. They set a goal of recruiting 20 small businesses for the first Inamori Forum.

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