(Originally published on LinkedIn on December 30, 2022)

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of visiting Japan on an official business mission with 50 extraordinary female business leaders. It was my first time, but hopefully not my last, visiting this fascinating country and culture.

While enjoying a Japanese breakfast, I read the local newspaper, and my eyes caught this short but powerful article that summed up 2022 for Japan and so many countries and individuals. As it might be difficult to read based on my picture, let me share the text below:

Newspaper clipping from The Yomiuri Shimbu newspaper that includes a picture of Two elderly Japanese men paint the Japanese character ikusa.
The Yomiuri Shimbu

 December 13, 2022

TOKYO – The kanji for “battle” is rendered by Seihan Mori, head priest of Kiyomizudera temple, in Kyoto on Monday. The character, read as “sen” or “ikusa,” was chosen as the most appropriate kanji to symbolize this year. It was chosen also for 2001, when the United States was hit by terrorist attacks. An annual, open-ended poll by the Kyoto-based Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation has solicited the public’s opinion on the best kanji for the year since 1995. The kanji meaning “gold” was selected last year due to the Tokyo Games.”

While reading, I remembered where I was on 9/11-2001 and where I was on February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. You might also clearly remember where you were.
The article also made me think about the battles we as humans are fighting, either with ourselves, each other, or nature, and the biodiversity we all depend on. But also the many people fighting for a better future for themselves, their loved ones, and generations to come.
We all won a significant victory on December 20th when 200 countries agreed to halt and reverse biodiversity loss at the UN biodiversity summit in Montreal. That victory gave hope to many, especially younger people. Hope for a better future.

We can not fight battles without having hope, and I’m very grateful for the many leaders who care and act as Stewards – Stewards of the Future! You bring hope with your leadership. Thank you!

I hope the kanji we choose for 2023 will be the same as for 2005 ai-itō shī … Love.

All my best wishes for a peaceful and joyous 2023!

Happy New Year!
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