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Musings / May 3, 2019

The Yomiuri ShimbunAs one of the measures to strengthen the national soccer team ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, German coach Dettmar Cramer was invited to Japan. He must have studied the traditional culture of Japan, for he told his players there was a word “tsanshin.”

Some wondered if he meant “sanshin” (strikeout). However, Cramer actually wanted to convey the importance of “zanshin,” a term that has been passed down in Japanese martial arts. It is a formal of mental preparation in which one maintains a sense of tension even after completing a move. I learned this story about Cramer from sports writer Kiwamu Kabe’s work “Yamato Damashii no Modern Soccer” (Modern soccer of Japanese spirit).

I reflect once again on the word left by Cramer, who is known as the “father of Japanese soccer.” It applies to fields other than sports.

Probably because of the news in recent years, the defense of our nation came to my mind. Just because Japan has been safe so far, that does not mean we can relax our guard. This issue needs to be dealt with steadily, by carefully watching changes in the situation.

Thinking about the preciousness of peace on Constitution Day, I take a look at the neighbors on our archipelago. There is a reckless player who has developed nuclear weapons, ignoring calls to stop by the United Nations, which serves as a referee. There was a player who trained radar on us even though he’s a member of our team. Unlike a ball game, the rules are not being fully implemented. We cannot afford to lose our concentration.

(This is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun’s May 3 issue.)Speech

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