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  • Writer's pictureHirokazu Kobayashi

Improving the quality of life for the elderly!

Updated: May 20

Hirokazu Kobayashi

CEO, Green Insight Japan, Inc.

Professor Emeritus and Visiting Professor, University of Shizuoka

My granddaughter lives with me and is now in first grade at elementary school. As human life is limited, I remember those days when I was a child, and I feel happy that a new life was passed on to her. I was seven years older than my younger sister, so I was overprotective as an only child during my childhood. When I was in the older classes at nursery school, a boy could get haircuts by himself, but I couldn't do it as I felt uneasy about not being accompanied by my mother. Also, although a girl went to nursery school with books, I hated nursery school and had no interest in learning how to write. This boy and girl are former classmates I will reunite with at a 70-year-old alumni gathering. It was a reminder that the alumni I connect with are lifelong friends.

The quality of life is subjective and belongs to the individual. Furthermore, the subjectivity is influenced by the environment. I like the European atmosphere more than the United States, where I lived for a little over two years. The contrast between England and France is interesting in terms of the differences in temperament and culture between countries. Subject to individual exceptions, I feel that British people “eat to live''. On the other hand, I get the impression that French people “live to enjoy eating.'' Specifically, British food is simple, bland, and does not take much time to eat. In France, it is the opposite; they love to talk about food. If we are invited to a meal in France, it will last from the evening until late at night, and we will deepen our friendships while enjoying food and drink. Personally, I find it easier to accept French values than British ones. In my case, it is not so much that I love food, but I grew old doing what I love. I want to call this "Latin optimism," and I am grateful for my good fortune. A certain musician once said, ”There is nothing more valuable in life than music.'' To me, there is nothing more enjoyable than “research.'' My occupation is “researcher,'' and my hobby is “research.'' Although I was too involved in managing universities, my motto was “Curiosity and Mistaken Confidence.''

The British concept of working to live is like that of the Japanese. Japan has entered a super-aging society since 2007. A super-aging society is defined as 21% or more of the population aged 65 or older. Japan is now at the forefront of the world. Although the retirement age in Japan is being extended, the mainstream age is still 60, and there are cases in which people work as part-time workers until they are around 70. Therefore, when we are in good health and have some savings after age, we can do what we like. People who want to be useful to the world, people who want to enjoy their hobbies, people who want to cherish time with their families, people who still want to earn money, etc. A friend of mine from university calls every day "Sunday every day." There is a weekly magazine in Japan called “Sunday Mainichi,'' and this is a joke that only Japanese people understand. He and his wife spend their summers in Hokkaido and winters in Thailand. As for me, I decided to continue my favorite research, and if I could do it, I would be able to help the world and make money, so I started a company after I retired from a university. The advantage of this is that there is no retirement age. I am working on developing and commercializing plant biotechnology while receiving grants from public and private foundations.


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