6 Years of HLAB – Helping To Open Doorways to the Future, for the Future, By the Future

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HLAB is an initiative that was set up and subsequently maintained by a youthful group of motivated people ( 1, 2, 3).

The founder, Mr. Kobayashi, had shown tremendous grit and determination to bring this organization to where it is now and his achievements over the past six years, particularly in inspiring young people, are note-worthy. And he is eyeing even more success.

This year, they received the Good Design Award (1). Congratulations!!

Although their ambitions are hampered to a degree by limited funds, they find themselves busy all the time.

This summer, for example, they organized a group of university students from around the globe to provide a splendid opportunity for 250 high school students to learn first-hand experiences, while also working on a project to build an experimental greenhouse in Tokyo that maintains a constant climate setting.

The HLAB website is well-designed, offering information in both Japanese and in English. I would like to urge my readers to visit their site and spread the word about their efforts and widen the net of support.

They are also savvy marketers, appealing to a global audience by inviting a group of journalist from abroad to record (scroll down for English) their views and insights into Japan, while also mentioning their activities.

I was also invited to contribute a piece about HLAB, given my involvement from the inception stages.

I firmly feel that is if by supporting such promising initiatives by young people that our generation and the new generation can contribute to changing Japanese society for the better.

I hope you are in, and I look forward to your support!

 

Information

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I will give a lecture at HGPI breakfast meeting on January 20, 2017 (Fri).

More information and registration
http://www.hgpi.org/en/report_events.html?article=597

 

Congratulations! The Success of Mr. Tamesue and Mr. Endo of Xiborg

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Recently, Ken Endo (1, 2, Wikipedia in Japanese) of Xiborg is attracting a lot of attention for his brilliant work. I have known him from when he was a PhD candidate at MIT. After successfully getting one, he came back to Japan and started working for the SONY Computer Science Laboratory (CSL). He started a company in collaboration with Dai Tamesue, an Olympian and medalists in World Competitions, who is director of the organisation, and they unveiled a new experimental running arena, the Brilla Running Stadium (in Japanese) on the 10th of December (press release in Japanese) at the now infamous Toyosu (because of the scandals and problems unearthed by Tokyo Governor Ms. Koike).

The stadium boasts a wide variety of tracks, with some of the tracks using materials slated for use in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and through this innovative location, they aim to help disabled people feel like Superman!

With audacious goals, these young people seek to leave an impact on the global scene, carefully preparing and planning, overcoming the inevitable setbacks and painful situations. I am always inspired by such young people, and feel encouraged by them.

They will shake things up, I am sure, and inject new life into a gradually stagnating Japan. Let’s go for Gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!

 

Information

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“Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize” Video is published on the Japanese Government InternetTV.

http://nettv.gov-online.go.jp/eng/prg/prg5103.html

A column of the “Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize” in this year is HERE.

 

The Dismal State of Japanese Agriculture and the New Generation of Change-Makers

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The TTP agreement notwithstanding, agriculture in Japan is in dire need of reform in order to harness the potential and the value of this sector.

It may be surprising, but on the list of countries (in Japanese) that earn through agricultural exports, a list led by The U.S, The Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, and France, Japan comes in at a distant around 45th. I believe this is a typical example of Japan’s failure to sell its high-quality products on the world stage.

Some reforms have been kick-started into life by Shinjiro Koizumi (in Japanese), but the resistance of organizations like the JA (known locally as Nokyo) (in Japanese) persists, and lawmakers in the ruling party are loathe to call for reforms, fearing the alienation of the rural vote-bank.

In order to gain a better understanding of the situation, I attended a two-day town hall meeting organised by the responsible ministry departments.

It is true that people involved in agriculture are very hard-working, but it remains a fact that the wage rate when calculated per hour is a measly sum somewhere between 450 and 500 yen (4.5-5 dollars) . I think you will agree that the situation is unacceptable.

The second day of the meeting was led by Mr. Takashima of Oisix (in Japanese), and Mr. Kurita from SeakYuruyasai (in Japanese), two ‘outsiders’ who have started successful farming enterprises. They explained their business models, and Yuruyasai for example, is still relatively new (2.5 years) but salaries for participating farmers are 2000 yen (20 dollars) per hour, and they are aiming to increase the hourly wage to 2500 yen in the third year.

They are doing their best to harness the amazing asset that agriculture in Japan can be, an their reports seemed to have some effect on the public officials in attendance.

I knew Takashima personally for some years. He is a very capable person with a keen sense for business, having already floated stocks of his enterprise on the market. I had also invited Mr Kurita to attend this meeting with me.

I know Kurita from his days on the management team at WHILL, but it seems he has moved on to agriculture. I as well as others in attandence in this meeting, was very impressed by the thoughtfulness of his business model and execution.

These young entrepreneurs will be the driving force that will help change Japan, and I hope we can all support them in their endeavors!