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When they finished eating their lunch, Takumi left home saying, "I'm meeting my friend. Let me know what happened to the game later."

Shota returned to the PC. "I have to deliver water and food to the people in the town," he muttered. "I thought you were studying. Are you playing a game?" His mother said behind him when Shota was about to click the text <<Supporting safe, secure and convenient life>>. "I'm not playing. I have a homework assignment, and I'm learning what a 'sogo-shosha' does on this Web site," Shota explained.

"Oh, so you were studying. What does a sogo-shosha do, then?" Shota answered with confidence, "For example, they dig up liquefied natural gas in Russia for decades and build special ships to transport it." Shota's mother laughed and said, "A sogo-shosha does a great job, doesn't it? Bur for me, washing the clothes you and your brother stained is much harder! Besides, there is a work being carried out on the mains water pipes in the neighborhood, so I can't use water for a while." His mother looked at the PC screen, where she could read the words <<Supporting safe, secure and convenient life>>. "For me, it's a handful just to make our family life safe, secure and convenient. I have so much to do now."

Shota sighed as his mother left his room in a hurry and clicked the text <<Supporting safe, secure and convenient life>>. A quiz appeared on the screen as usual.

<<What is necessary to obtain safe drinking water?>>

"What is necessary to obtain safe drinking water? Water service, of course," Shota muttered casually and a voice replied from the monitor, "There is something you need to do before that." Shota looked at the screen, and there was a slim shadow of a person standing near the river that ran through the middle of town, waving to Shota. Shota clicked the person, and a female Bussan-jin appeared.

"I am the water Bussan-jin. You can ask me anything about water."

Shota asked her rather bluntly, "As long as there's no maintenance work, we can get safe drinking water by turning on the tap. Besides, drinking water is always safe!" "You take it for granted that safe drinking water comes out of a tap. However, there are still many countries and regions where people don't have access to safe drinking water," the water Bussan-jin said and showed a graph.

"Why do so many people not have access to safe drinking water?" To Shota's question, the water Bussan-jin answered gently. "There are three major reasons: water pollution, global warming and delay in infrastructure development." "Does global warming cause a shortage of safe water?" Shota asked. The water Bussan-jin said with a serious face. "If global warming accelerates, there will be more regions that suffer from heavy rainfall and drought. 'Climate change', which has a detrimental influence on water resources, becomes more likely to occur. When the climate is not stable, floods and landslide disasters occur more often, and changes in the rainfall level and increase in water temperature can cause deterioration of water in rivers and lakes."

Shota said in a loud voice, "That's why infrastructure must be developed by building water purification plants. But I haven't heard people complaining about lack of water purification plants." "That's because you've only seen Japan. On the global level, shortage of safe water is a very serious problem." She said firmly and continued.

"The major factors of the water issues are population growth in developing countries and improvement of living standards in emerging countries. The world population, which was about 2.5 billion in 1950, has increased about 2.8 times more and reached seven billion in 2011. It is predicted that by 2050, the population will reach 9.15 billion. About 70% of water is used for food production such as agriculture, which means water shortage is directly linked to food shortage. As the population grows, more water is required to increase food production, and as the living standard is improved, the amount of water for domestic uses also increase, and as industrialization and advancement of technology progress, more industrial water is needed. The demand for wastewater treatment and sewage treatment increases as the amount of water supply increases. Currently, the biggest problem is that stable safe water supply is not secured in regions like Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and South America."

"Well, we have to build more and more water supply and wastewater facilities!" Shota said in an even louder voice. The water Bussan-jin said with her eyes filled with excitement, "We Bussan-jin help build them." "How do you help?" Shota asked. The water Bussan-jin showed a familiar-looking report with a gentle smile.

*Job titles and organization names as of March 2012

©2011-2012 Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. Nikkei Business Online Special, Translated by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

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