September 4, 2023
It was about 20 years ago. I happened to see a flyer for an event that said “Demonstration by the winner of the WorldSkills Competition!” and I was intrigued. I was a novice reporter at that time, and I went to the venue without making any arrangements for an interview, thinking that if it looked interesting, I could write an article about it, and if it was not interesting, I could just leave without telling anyone. In the beginning, I had no idea what the WorldSkills Competition was all about.
I was stunned…. I was young then, but the two world champions were even younger. They must have been about 20 years old. One of them, a young boy (he looked like a boy), used the springs in his knees and back to swing his whole body to file the lump of metal, and he could get it exactly right, without any excess or deficiency, in a single stroke. Another boy, also a boy, struck the sheet with a hammer, and a sheet of metal became a smooth cylinder in an instant, and it was L-shaped. Although the demonstration event was not long, not more than half an hour, I completely became a fan of them. As soon as the event was over, I took full advantage of my reporter’s privilege and ran up to them and asked, “How do you feel about reaching the top of the world at such a young age?” They looked at me a little embarrassed and said, “The training was tight, so hard. It’s really tough,” they said shyly. “I work a normal job during the day and practice at night, but now I don’t have to do it anymore.” In fact, even though they are at the top of the world, it is not a big enough competition to make a living. It was a natural thing to say, but I was a little shocked. I was ashamed of myself for asking such a stupid question. Even though I had never heard of WorldSkills until I got there, what a selfish jerk.
I still sometimes wonder where they are now and what kind of work they are creating. Have they left the field? Well, it is even possible that they are no longer in the manufacturing industry. No matter how hard they worked to acquire their skills or how good they are at what they do, there is no guarantee of their future path. Even these boys are now well into their 40s. It would be wonderful if they became leaders of their peers, but they may have clung to their old skills and become a burden to everyone else. Life can go either way.
However, when I come across a workpiece that has a deep, taut, and profound flavor, I sometimes feel the presence and personality of the “creator” on the other side of the workpiece. I wonder if a skilled craftsman, like the boys I met 20 years ago, worked hard at his craft and could have made this work of art. That is how I feel. I am sure, that they are still out there somewhere, mastering the machines and tools at their will.
MECHATRONICS TECHNOLOGY JAPAN2023 will be held in Nagoya City, Japan, starting October 18. All three companies that will play a leading role in the special program planned by the organizer in the Concept Zone at the venue are companies where you would expect to find “those people”. And it’s certainly “those people” who are actually grinding the workpieces. I hope you will enjoy the essence of their craftsmanship and the heights of their skill at the venue.
SEISANZAI Japan will also feature MECHATRONICS TECHNOLOGY JAPAN 2023, so please look forward to it.
Shu Yasumi, Editor-in-Chief