In December 2019, I went to Japan with a delegation of entrepreneurs from Wuhan. On the bus from Kyoto to Mt. Fuji, in order to liven up the atmosphere, the tour guide asked each person to introduce themselves and talk about their knowledge of Japan.
When it was my turn, I said, "Let's tell three stories.
The first story took place in 663 A.D., when Japan and the Tang Dynasty were at the White River in Korea. Japan and the Tang Dynasty fought a battle at the mouth of the Paekje River in Korea. The Tang navy had more than 7,000 men and 170 ships, while the Japanese navy had more than 10,000 men and 1,000 ships. After the war, Japan determined to "Sinicize" and sent Tang envoys to China on a large scale to introduce the political system, culture and technology of the Tang dynasty, even including writing. NHK TV once did a program about the dangers of studying in China. The Tang envoy sat on a ship that was 33.6 meters long and 9.2 meters wide, and there were usually four ships with 600 people going to China at a time, but only one ship could eventually reach China, which meant that only 150 people could reach China, and 3/4 of them would die at sea. NHK said the envoys brought China back to Japan.
The second story happened in 1863, when the British and American fleets passing through the Shimonoseki Strait of the then Choshu Clan were shelled by the Choshu Clan garrison. However, the defender's artillery could only fire 200 meters and the shells fell to the sea, while the British could fire 600 meters and the shells all hit the defender's batteries. As a result of the war, the British easily captured the fort, and the Changzhou clan paid $440,000 in compensation. After the war was over, the lord of the Changzhou clan did not think of revenge, but raised silver and sent five young men to England to study and figure out why British artillery could shoot so far. After studying in the British naval arsenal, they discovered that the inside of the barrel of a British artillery gun was helical, which accelerated the firing of a shell. These five men studied the British political, economic and cultural systems, and later became the main driving force behind Japan's Meiji Restoration. One of them, Hirobumi Ito, later became prime minister and introduced the parliamentary and cabinet systems to Japan, and is known as the father of Japanese democracy. This study was also the second time after 600 years of Japan's isolation that Japan learned from the outside world on a large scale.
The third story takes place after World War II and is a very familiar history. After being defeated by the U.S. military, Japan once again began to look for the reasons for its own failure in its enemies, and once again began to learn from them in earnest. This time they learned new manufacturing from the U.S. They bought all the new products of the 20th century, such as automobiles, motorcycles, televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and toilet seats, back to Japan, dismantled and copied them, improved them, and enhanced them. After 20 years, Japan became a manufacturing power, Japanese products became synonymous with high-end manufacturing, and Japan became the second most powerful country in the world.
I said how to manage failure and learn from it is the most valuable thing that Japan has taught me.
After the three stories were told, the car slowly drove under Mount Fuji. In my heart, I couldn't help but hear my favorite Eason song, "Everyone only has those hands, but it's hard to have them even if you embrace them.