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©Kunihiko Aoyama

Prologue

What happens in the world of 2050?

"Dad, what does a 'sogo-shosha' do?", tenth-grade student Daiki asked his father Hiroshi as soon as the boy came home from school.

Daiki

Daiki's father

"What's this all about?"

"Well, my teacher told me to join a sogo-shosha to make my dream come true."
"What is your dream?"

"To protect the future of mankind."

"That is a very big dream."

"Well, the world's population will be over 9 billion in 2050, won't it?"

"Researchers don't agree on the exact figure, but thereabouts."

As he spoke, Hiroshi picked up a tablet that was lying on the table in the living room.
"For example, look at this graph. According to the United Nation's statistics, the world's population will reach 9.3 billion in 2050. "

Hiroshi opened a graph on the tablet and showed it to Daiki.

Changes in world population (Unit: 100 million)
世界人口の推移
Source:The United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, created based on the 2011 Revision

"Yes! This is the kind of information I saw in the news. If the population grew that much, we won't have sufficient food and energy, and far from living in prosperity, a lot of people will starve to death, and there will be wars to fight over food and energy around the world. Such a dreadful time may come after only thirty odd years, when I am your age."

"Undoubtedly, there will be a shortage of food and energy in the not-so-distant future, due to the explosive increase in population."

Daiki looked at his father with earnest eyes and said, "My dream is to get a job that contributes to solving the severe food and energy problems. A sogo-shosha would have such a job, handling food and energy at the global level." Daiki looked at Hiroshi, his eyes shining with excitement. "My teacher said to me, 'Your father is a professor of international economics and should be knowledgeable about sogo-shosha.'"

"Of course, 'sogo-shosha' is an important topic of my research. Indeed, a sogo-shosha may be a perfect place to find a job that helps the future of mankind," said Hiroshi.
He came up with an idea, quickly typed and sent an e-mail, and looked at Daiki with a smile.

"A while ago, I met a man in a workshop who works for a sogo-shosha. When we were chatting, he was saying enthusiastically that he wanted the young people to know about the work of sogo-shosha. I think he will be of help to you."

The tablet made a sound, notifying of a received e-mail. Hiroshi read the screen and said, "A reply came already. He says he has time and can meet the day after tomorrow. How about you visit him after school?"

"Who is he?"

"It is a Bussan-jin, who works for the Food Resources Department at the sogo-shosha Mitsui & Co."

"What is a Bussan-jin?"

"The employees of Mitsui & Co. have long been called Bussan-jin with affection and respect."

"I see."

"This is a great opportunity to find out as much as you can about how a sogo-shosha contributes to solving food problems."

"Thanks, Dad!"

©2013-2014 Nikkei Business Publications, Inc. Nikkei Business Online Special, Translated by Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
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