July 19, 2011


De-Ownership, De-Materialization, De-Monetization -- Junko Edahiro's Message to Today's '3-De' Generation (TEDxTokyo, May 2011)

Keywords: Newsletter 

JFS Newsletter No.106 (June 2011)

On May 21, 2011, JFS chief executive Junko Edahiro delivered a short speech at an event called TEDxTokyo, held in Tokyo, Japan.

Since 1984 the TED Conference (originally for Technology, Entertainment and Design) has been held annually in Monterey, California, with guest speakers who are frontrunners in various fields, including scientists, entertainers, designers, and more. Under the slogan "Ideas Worth Spreading" the TED events are expanding worldwide. The local versions of TED events are called TEDx and hosted by a local community of volunteers. Today, TEDx events are being held in over 60 countries around the world. Since 2006, speeches at TED-related events have been made available online via the TED website and YouTube, and through other channels.


TEDxTokyo, has been held annually since 2009, for a total of three times so far. TEDxTokyo 2011 was held after the devastating March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. The event's focus was altered to respond to the tragedy, with the theme being "to explore practical and inventive ways of rebuilding and renewing Japan, and uplifting the spirits of its people." Junko Edahiro delivered a speech as a message to a younger generation of people who would live in the aftermath of the earthquake and shape the future of Japan. Here below, we share Junko's message, especially for younger readers of the JFS newsletter. But really, this message is for everyone!

TEDxTokyo 2011: Enter the Unknown


We sometimes hear senior citizens say that the younger generation these days has neither the guts nor ambition for promotion or success. No passion, no samurai spirit.

That may be true of some, of course, but actually there are young people who are working hard to achieve their goals, but with a different purpose and ambition compared to older generations.

A young Japanese man named Naoki Shiomi is one of them. He imagined what it would be like to devote almost his entire life to a company and to receive a salary in exchange -- the ultimate trade-off between time and money. Without giving most of his time to an employer, it would not be possible to secure enough income to support his family. Even though many adults accept such a choice, he wondered for himself, how can I live my life in the most fulfilling way?

Now Shiomi lives a new lifestyle he calls "Half-farmer, Half-X." His ideas and lifestyle have inspired many people and attracted followers. The concept is that people pursue farming to grow food not for sale but for their family, while spending the rest of their time on their life's mission, or what is most important to them. Living such a life may decrease your income, but it will increase the time to spend with family and doing what you really want to do. This choice has the potential to really fill lives with satisfaction. I personally know a "half-farmer, half-singer," a "half-farmer, half-writer" and a "half-farmer, half-NGO worker."

Japan's Growing Trend: Part-Time Farmers Half Farmer, Half Something Else: "New" Lifestyles for an Eco-Friendly 21st Century

Copyright TEDxTokyo

I have been involved in the sustainability movement in Japan for over 12 years and I have seen changes in people's thinking and, particularly, I have witnessed an increasing number of young people who support new values and lifestyles that are different from their elders. They value connecting with others and nature and finding peace and happiness in doing so, rather than buying and owing "stuff."

I started the "Candle Night" movement with my colleagues nine years ago, inviting people to turn off the electric lights and enjoy spending time at a slower pace with friends and families by candle light. It is said that ten million people all over Japan now join our annual "candle night" events.

Also, agriculture is becoming a boom among young people who are willing to reduce their working time and money for shopping and spend time and money in taking care of rice paddies and small vegetable farms. And more and more young people enjoy hiking and outdoor activities, and they have created a new word, "Yama-girls," for girls who love hiking on mountain trails in fashionable outdoor clothes. For them, connecting with nature is something trendy!

By watching such movements and trends, I feel that three important ideas can be expressed with words beginning with "d...e.." So I declare that "an era of De" has come. The first De is what I call "De-ownership" -- the shift from owning things, to sharing things. Car dealers in Japan are desperately trying to sell cars to young people but young people are quite happy with car-sharing, saying "owning a car is not cool." The second "De" trend is the "De-materialization" of happiness -- instead of seeking happiness by buying and owning material goods, people find the happiness in person-to-person relationships, contact with nature, and being in harmony with themselves. The third "De" is "De-monetization" of life -- creating happiness in our own lives without being ruled by the monetary economy. Examples include "Half-farmer, half-X" type of lifestyles. This lifestyle evolution is spreading quietly in Japan.

Many people in the older generation cannot understand the "De" generation and are worried about future economic growth in Japan with so many young people not working to the point of exhaustion for their company. They simply don't understand that now we are entering a new era.

"De" generation people are not working passionately for money. They are not so interested in moving up the corporate ladder. Instead, they may prefer moving up a ladder to pick apples! They have observed the older generation working hard for economic efficiency, GDP growth, corporate profits, and higher salaries without any time for themselves. Younger people also feel that this GDP-centered society has created so much hurt in people's lives such as loneliness, mental health problems, and even suicides as well as huge damage to the Earth including devastation of local areas, climate change, and biodiversity loss.

The "De" generation is working passionately to prove it is possible to live a happy and satisfactory life without burdening people in developing nations, other creatures on the Earth and future generations. They are trying to establish "De" lifestyle which is truly sustainable for people, and sustainable for the Earth.

Do you feel your life is truly sustainable, not only for yourselves but also for others, and the Earth? Why don't you join the "De" generation and find what you want to change to make your own "De" lifestyle? This is for all generations, for people who are seeking sustainability, harmony and happiness in their life. Nowadays, everybody talks about sustainability, but you can "be" sustainable by letting old mental models go and focusing on what really matters to you.

Welcome to the era of "De"!

Written by Junko Edahiro

See also: TEDxTokyo - Junko Edahiro - "De" Generation - [English]