Inamori said the Kyoto Prizes represent his belief that human beings have no higher calling than to strive for the greater good of humankind and for world peace.
"Today we are rushing ahead with incredible scientific and technological achievements, while understanding of our emotional and psychological development lags deplorably," he said. "It is my hope that the Kyoto Prizes will encourage balanced development of both our scientific and our spiritual sides, and hence provide new impetus toward the structuring of new philosophical paradigms."
Asked if the collapse of Enron was indicative of a widespread decline in business ethics, Inamori said: "As industrialists, we have to make sure that we are not deviating from the paths allowed to us, which is to do the right thing.
"This is the alarm I would like to sounda call to every business leader to go back to fundamentals and do the right thing by rebuilding their businesses in the right way," he said.
"New Paradigms of Morality"
Inamori mused on why the world appears to be losing its way spiritually while making dramatic advances in science and technology.
"I may not be right, but I have started to wonder if it's somehow due to the fact that we are becoming agnostic," he said. "In both the West and the East, people are leaving religion, and with that they are abandoning the old paradigms and models of morality and ethics.
"I think that if we are to walk away from religion," he continued, "we should at least use our intelligence and develop a new paradigm of behavior, or else humankind is sure to destroy itself."
A deeply religious and spiritual man, Inamori has written several books about business ethics and personal growth and excellence. A few years ago he took time from his business duties to become a Buddhist monk. He regularly teaches Japanese and other business leaders around the world his secrets of corporate success.
At 70, Inamori said he feels he still has at least a decade remaining to help people, particularly through philanthropy. Apart from his volunteer activities, which include efforts to help children in need, he hopes to boost the Inamori Foundation and the Kyoto Prizes. He has already donated U.S. $500 million to the foundation.
Each Kyoto laureate receives academic honors, a gold medal, and a cash gift totaling up to 50 million Japanese yen (about $400,000). The prizes are awarded every year in November.
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