The dramatist and poet Shuji Terayama (1935-1983) once observed that real gamblers enjoy gambling on the "inevitablitily of losing," not on winning by a fluke. Losing is said to give them a sense of reassurance because it confirms their understanding that they were not going to win, according to Terayama. "Gambling gives you a taste of defeat you'll never get in real life," he wrote.
I wonder how the "inveitability of losing" must feel to Mototaka Ikawa, the 47-year-old former chairman of Daio Paper Corp. Ikawa may face a charge of special breach of trust for personally borrowing more than 10.6 billion yen from Daio's subsidiaries. He has yet to pay back about 6 billion yen, much of which is reported to have disappeared in casinos abroad---the "table-top wilderness," as Terayama would have put it.
Daio, which was started by Ikawa's grandfather in Shikoku, is Japan's leading maker of facial tissues and toilet rolls of the Elleair brand. But the grandson reportedly treated the Daio group's accountant officials as his personal automated teller machine.
I recall a financial industry maverick I interviewed years ago. A self-made man, he told me with a completely straight face, "People make a big deal of bank owners treating their banks as private property, but banks are essentially their private property."
And there was a paper company owner, known for his autocratic ways, who went on a shopping spree for van Goghs and Renoirs. He came under fire for remarking, "I'm taking them to my grave when I die."
Daio's rehabilitation hinges on ceasing to be a "family-run business." But the president, who obviously doesn't want to see it that way, noted, "Removing the Ikawa family from the equation is out of the question." The grime that has accumulated from years of the Ikawa family running this company is apparently too tough to be tissued off.
The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office will find out how the disgraced chairman gambled and lost.
"No loss comes as a surprise," goes an old saying. Daio's third-generation chairman kept winning the first half of life's roulette game. Now that he is about to play the second half penniless, I wonder how it will go.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 30
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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