This aphorism was written in the Edo period by the Zen monk Tōrei Enji in a book titled Shūmon Mujintō Ron (Treatise on the Inexhaustible Lamp of Zen). Teigo Iba, the second Director-General of Sumitomo, made it his personal motto because he believed, “A man of noble character esteems wealth. A company is a profit-making enterprise, and to work for a company is to work for profit and nothing shameful. This is an important truth. However, there is an ethical way of earning profits. Profit must be earned in accordance with moral principles, and the money gained must be used for proper purposes.”
It was this belief that prompted Iba to relocate Sumitomo’s smelting operation to Shisakajima to solve the smoke pollution problem. On this uninhabited island with no fresh water supply, Sumitomo developed housing, a school, a hospital, and other essential infrastructure. Starting a business enterprise by first building a new settlement for the workers and their families was an extraordinary undertaking at the time.