Doha, Qatar -1: Museum of Islamic Art and Qatar Foundation

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From Narita via Kansai Airport by Qatar Airline I arrived atDoha, the capital of Qatar early in the morning of 29th.  The purpose of my visit is to participate in the ‘Global Redesign Summit’

After taking a short rest at the hotel, I headed to the Museum of Islamic Art (資料1)I have learned that many pieces of art objects in exhibition were purchased for this museum and the total cost amounted up to 300 million yen.

The Museum was designed byleoh Ming Pei, broadly known as one of the masters of architecture; the museum opened in 2008.  He is 93 years old now, meaning that he was nearly 90 at the time he accepted this work, which is quite extraordinary.  He visited many places to learn about the culture of Islam.

The museum exhibits various arts from various ages in Islamic nations and region so you will never get bored by the exhibition.  Islamic patterns, as you know, are very sophisticated and geometric.  I wonder how they make those patterns.  Such delicate complex crafts make you humbly aware of the great potentials of human talents but at the same time makes you fear the possibility of great harms in the future that can be done by the very same humans.

Next morning, I visited the Qatar Foundation(Ref.1) and exchanged views with the Vice President of Research and Science for one hour, and visited Cornell University ‘Qatar campus’  (Ref.1) located within the premise.  Quite a number of young scientists from all over the world were conducting research in this great facility (opened in 2004).

I was looking forward to directly seeing this place because I was pretty aware of the fact that Qatar was very devoted to enhancing education and research through this foundation.  Merely less than half of the plans were accomplished, but I had a gut feeling that this visit was very worthwhile.

It made me very proud to know that the overall design of this campus was done by Mr. Arata Isozaki (Ref.1).  He also designed several architectures including this Cornell Qatar campus (the hall is round shaped which allows much better acoustincs? as you can see in the top photos).

 

Geniuses and Super-Talents of the SONY Computer Science Laboratory

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I went to the ‘Open House 2010’ of ‘SONY Computer Science Laboratory (CSL)’  known as ‘Sony’s magic lab ? a place where geniuses and super-talents pop up’.

After the presentations of very interesting fijndings by both Sakurada-san and Rekimoto-san, Kitano-san and Tokoro-san joined to host a panel with these two.  Being requested to make comments, I asked what they thought about recent reports of ‘Craig Venter having succeeded in making artificial life in laboratory’ in relation to their (Sakurada san’s and Rekimoto san’s) research themes.  After all what Venter accomplished is truly ‘extraordinary’ and ‘outrageous’.

Next was unique presentations by young researchers.  Hasegawa-san at Tomato (London) proposing ‘Process Design’, Tobita san in Comic Computing, and Owada san known for ‘Toirel, Moe (Toilet, Sprout); are all very ‘strange’, ‘Otaku-fu (somewhat Nerd or geek)’ but definitely have some big energy.  At a panel after their presentations, Kenichiro Mogi-san tried hard in various ways to provoke them, but these three wouldn’t be provoked so easily, which was in a way surprising.

In the end, Kansai Yamamoto-san sitting at the front row of the room boosted all by saying “Maybe the key is to keep on going, being ‘strange’…..”  and I very much agree.

Kitano san, the Director himself, is quite a character who was awarded the ‘Mentor Award’ http://www.kiyoshikurokawa.com/en/2009/12/mentor-award-of-nature-the-crazy-ones.html of the Nature magazine by his motto ‘The Crazy Ones’ though he never have worked in Japanese Universities.

I think that you must be a ‘misfit’, ‘out of box’, to develop a new field, new idea, produce outcomes big enough to change old dogma or to pursue something with energy strong enough to change the society.  It has always been so in history.

This is the entrepreneur mind, the father of innovation, and the idea or value lying at the base of the activities of GEW (Ref.1), TEDxTokyo, and D-Lab.

SONY CSL‘Demonstration’ was scheduled 2 days after, but to my regret I have to miss it.

I spent a great, satisfying half day at the Open House 2010 of SONY CSL.

Japan, UK, US, Korea ? Cancer Clinical Trials International Symposium

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On May 25th, in a very pleasant weather, Japan, UK, US and Korea held an international symposium on cancer clinical trials at the British Embassy. At the opening, British Ambassador H.E. Warren, American Ambassador H.E. Roos (see May 27th article of ‘News from the Embassy’, the web site of the American Embassy in Japan), and Minister Hwang, Soon-Taik of Korean Embassy gave speech.  I made remarks as the Chairman of Health Policy Institute of Japan followed by Dr. Agnes Chan  who closed the ceremony as the Goodwill Ambassador of Japan Cancer Society.

Regarding clinical trials, trilateral conference (ICH: International Conference on Harnomization) continued for 20 years. In these years Japan tried to respond to the constant requests by US and Europe to speed up its work, and until just recently the problem of ‘Drug Lag’ was also being called to attention within Japan.
 
Nowadays, world affairs are changing rapidly with increasing participation of Asia and fast growing markets as the background.  FDA of the United States has been sending their staff to China and India for many years to provide training and education so as to make common bases for clinical trials or the common system of approval of new drugs in these emerging markets. This is precisely what I call a strategic action and thinking based on good visions.  Europe is also speeding its participation, and all are working restlessly to become the ‘core of Asia’.

Korea’s rapid change was again clear from their presentation at this conference.   UK, US, and Korea sent their specialists and Japanese participants included President of PMDA and Ministry of Health.  I understand that Japanese government has launched a growth strategy, ‘Life Innovation’, and I am curious to know what sort of strategic policies they would craft.

The programs, participants, references, and reports of the symposium and action plans recommendation to our government and other stakeholders will be uploaded on the web site of ‘Health Policy Institute, Japan’, so I will report to you once they are available.

The ‘7 Samurais?’ at the Asia Vision 21

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I have recently posted a report on this web site about the ‘Asia Vision21’  which was held in Singapore under the auspices of Harvard University and National University of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew School of Public Policy.


Number of participants from Japan was seven (7), including a member of House of Representative Yoshimasa Hayashi of Liberal Democratic Party (former Minister of Defense, etc.), Ambassador to the UNESCO, H.E. Yamamoto, former Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs and current President and CEO of JBIC, Mr. Watanabe.  Everyone spoke up actively on various issues and I was told that hosts from Harvard welcomed it saying that the presence of Japanese participants were quite high this time.  I was so glad to hear it.


In relation to this event, I had an opportunity to meetMr. Jun Kurihara (photo), a Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government who has rather unusual career (though it is not unusual at all outside of Japan…)  He was also appointed to a Non-resident Research Director at Canon Institute for Global Studies  last year.  Mr. Kurihara is quite an ‘Out of Box’ type researcher, an earnest learner, and is involved in various activities independently. He writes reports ‘Cambridge Gazett’ at Canon Institute for Global Studies , and is also delivering Newsletters by the same name (Ref.1,2) (in Japanese)


Asia Vision21Mr.Kurihara and myself


I was impressed by the rich content of the reports and newsletters which apparently indicates his deep insights and width of research he goes through.


Such networks of Kurihara-san’s based on local activities as an individual could not have been build unless he/she succeeds in gaining personal trust between the people he/she encounters.  They are truly the individual’s personal ability and achievements which has nothing to do with his/her social status and institutions he belongs


Here, I will post a link to his report commenting on the report of ‘Asia Vision 21’ (Ref.1, 2) (in Japanese). I was flattered to know that he thought my comments interesting.  He also comments on activities of others.


I sincerely wish to see more people with respectable positions emerge who are able to get more and more actively involved in heated discussions in global arena.



 

‘Invictus’: The Will, Decision, Strategy, and Action of the Leader

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Responsibility of the head of a nation is naturally greater then the top of an enterprise.

Among the heads of nations during these 40-50 years, not many are remembered as historical figures.  But Nelson Mandela of the South Africa is without doubt one of those remembered in our history.  In the midst of that Apartheid, he began his engagement in political activities from around 1950 as a lawyer, had been imprisoned for 27 years, spent a life which is hard for us even to imagine.  He was released from the prison in the 1990s reflecting the change in political climate and was elected the first president in the fully representative democratic election of 1994 after the abolition of the Apartheid.  It is beyond our imagination the pressure and stress he had to endure as the top of a nation in such a difficult time.  I understand that he respected Gandhi as a leader in politics.

However, what I want to write in this posting is not about his life, but about the 1995 Rugby World Cup  held in South Africa.  All games were played in South Africa and believe it or not, South Africa gained a victory over the undefeatable New Zealand – precisely the case of ‘fact is stranger than fiction’.

Recently a film on this story was released (in Japanese) (Ref.1).  The title is ‘Invictus’ (taken from the poem by William E Henley) ) The film is based on the book ‘Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation’  by John Carlin, a journalist who was residing in South Africa at the time when Mandela was elected president.

It is truly a moving story.  The will, decision, strategy, and action of the leader who was bestowed responsibility to take leadership of a country in an extremely complicated and difficult situation even to imagine.  Clint Eastwood, the director, did a wonderful job again.  As always, his point of view is great.  By all means, please see this film.

The time changes, but the responsibility of the leader of a nation is not in the least getting lighter than the old ages.  It is more and more difficult to tell where we are  heading to in this global world.  The key is the ability to see things in a large historical context, philosophical mind, practical wisdom, and the power to touch people’s heart.

Dr. Laurie Gallett, my friend and a journalist, keeps a life sized photo of President Mandela in her office.  Indeed, Nelson Mandela is a great leader respected by the world.

In the age of great changes, how are our leaders of Japan doing?  It appears to me that they are wandering around.  Oh, come out, the leaders of Japan (though it is not just about political arena….)!

 

Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Vibrant China

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I came to Shenzhen via Hong Kong.  There were lots of cars running so naturally it took a long time to enter Mainland China via Hong Kong.  New buildings and roads were being built in a great speed.

One of the purposes of my visit this time was to play golf at the ‘Mission Hills’.  It is a huge piece of development with twelve 18-hole courses.  I understand that the Mission Hills is the largest golf resort in the world.  You may have seen this place on TV since the World Cup was opened in 1995 as the official introduction of this facility to the world.  It was in 1997 when Hong Kong was returned to China from the Great Britain.  I played at the World Cup Course.  It was quite a fascinating course.  Please enjoy the place at their web site.

Surrounding the golf course stood many classy huge housings (I was told that a single house was at least 600 square meters large…I wondered what sort of people were going to live in such places), and I saw signs calling for new members.  Memberships and houses must cost a fortune, but I presume that most of them are for investments ? I could see only a handful of people in these many houses. …. The view reminded me of Japan 20 years ago but apparently the scale is of no comparison.  I had an impression that the interiors of hotels (built more than 10 years ago) somewhat lacked closer attention in  details compared to Japanese hotels, but it doesn’t matter because what matters is energy.  They don’t worry about small details.   It’s meaningless to point out trivial flaws here and there.

The players from China were four from Beijing, one of them is an executive of a company that purchases mineral resources in Africa, and he just returned from Congo.  Another person was in a ship cargo business – all of them were in their late 40’s and full of energy.

I was invited to a restaurant in downtown Shenzhen but was overwhelmed by the speed in which the facilities and roads were being built.  What was this place like 10 or 20 years ago, I wonder?  And how would it be 10, 20 years from now?

Upon my return to Tokyo, I stayed overnight at the Shangri-La Hotel in Hong Kong.  It is one of my favorite hotels.  Gazing the raining Hong Kong Island lying across the sea, I relaxed for a half day.

Although the weather was a mere rainfall in Hong Kong, I understand that the southern China had a very heavy rain.  I do hope that the rain did not cause much damage.

‘JUSTICE’, a series of lectures by Professor Michael Sandel

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You may have noted that a lecture series on ‘JUSTICE’ by Professor Michael Sandel  of Harvard University has been on-aired at NHK at its Educational Channel every Sunday evening 6-7pm, and aired again some late hours on BS channel. I have also mentioned on this program in my recent blog posting.

This lecture series is apparently very popular at Harvard University attracting sometime 1,000 students and the University has released this series for the first time ‘On-line’. If you have viewed some on this NHK programs, you see and feel as you are in the auditorium.

I enjoy this series and try to learn how to manage lectures like this.

Several amazing things on this series.  First, Professor Sandel is the author of several books on this matter, thus I immediately purchased his book ‘JUSTICE’ electronically via Kindle, which is much faster than purchasing a copy from Amazon.  A major progress on book reading. Thus, I could follow some details of arguments, reinforcing his lecture.

Second is his style of lectures; start with students interactive involvement, and always building questions on the issue with students.

Third, although the theme and the content deal very difficult and critical issues of our daily life, each session lasts only 30 minutes. The skills of management of lecture is superb and I wonder how I could be that effective and maintain that richness and excitements. I must try it.

Forth is his obvious depth of knowledge and ability to link it to contemporary issues and conflicts.

And Fifth is the ability to remember the name of students who reply his questions. Such style must have some good memories to such students on this course and encourage asking questions.

Fortunately, you can see this lecture series on the web thus everyone can enjoy, think and be inspired. In contract to NHK which provides its Japanese translation version as well as original English version, the web ‘On-line’ version provides only original English version. I suggest more and more students watch On-line, and view and listen it in English.

Further, Japanese students should see this lecture series, and sense a class and the lectures of Harvard University. In global world, lectures of world top universities and professors would be a good reference to see the world students exposed, quality of professors, and the content and style of lectures, and the ambience of the class.

Faculty and educators can learn a lot to reflect on yourself and your classes   and students can see the differences. By promoting such open education like this, digital-age could enhance the quality of higher education and change the way education may become of  (Ref.1)  in coming decades in the world.

I love it.

2010 TEDxTokyo; A Very Exciting Day

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Click here for Photos.

On May 15th, TEDxTokyo 2010, the 2nd event following the TEDxTokyo in 2009 which I introduced to you last year opened at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Rinkai Fukutoshin (Water Front City), Tokyo.

Beautiful month of May sunshine, fresh sea breeze, stylish venue, nice entrepreneurial action-oriented people…..

This is an event aiming to nurture ‘Shinsyu no Kisyo (entrepreneurship)’ and promote vibrant movements to bring up ‘Deru Kui (Nails that Stick Out)’ (Ref.1, 2)   through a variety of activities with TEDxTokyo as one of the ‘Main’ event.  The TED main headquarter, the host, and many people worked hard together to organize various related events and programs for these couple of years.

The activities of TED is spreading rapidly throughout the world and focusing more on youth in recent years.

Details of the programs, speakers and wonderful performers are at TEDxTokyo2010, but the point is that this is a global On-line Live event and is expanding worldwide in an enormous speed via various media such as blog, twitter, YouTube.

The great ukulele player Jake Shimabukuro (YouTube here), Ms. Kanae Doi of the Human Right Watch and many, many more people shared lots of excitements, moving experiences, laughter, tears, and ‘thrills’.  It was definitely a very refreshing, good day – even better than the wonderful weather we had.

And, of course, we must not forget that this event was made possible by the wonderful works of Todd, Patrick and other organizers, about 100 volunteers, as well as the help and support from many partners and people involved.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this truly wonderful one day event.

By the way, one ‘Telsa’ (Red), the hot topic, was brought here for test rides (Cool !), but to my great disappointment, I have totally forgotten about it!  Hummmmmm…

Lecture at the Bank of Japan: ‘Stagnant Japan Economy and its Way-out’

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On May 14th, I was at the Bank of Japan to give a lecture.  It was a bit surprising that I was invited, but I was given 2 hours.  Unfortunately, Mr. Shirakawa, the Governor, could not join due to some unexpected duty, but there were about 50 people including Deputy Governor Nishimura. They all must be smart and brilliant people (I am sure), but I regret to say that all of them were men (actually there were 2 women sitting at the side….)

The theme given to me was ‘Japan’s Stagnant Economy; How We Find the Wayout’.  I brought my outline, charts, references, and several copies of ‘Sekai kyu kyaria no tsukurikata (How to build a global career)’ which I co-authored with Professor Yoko Ishikura, and ‘Inovation Shiko-Ho (How to Make an Innovative Mind)’ as a gift.

As you may know, Harvard University recently has made ‘On-line’ a series of lectures by Professor Michael Sandel on ‘Justice’ to the public for the first time in its history; it is because of its tremendous popularity among the students. The lecture captures the listener’s mind right from the start- it’s such a series of wonderful lecture- and the series are being broadcasted on the NHK Education TV channel every Sunday evening (and also late at night…).

So, I started my seminar at the Bank of Japan in a similar style, first asking questions.  Perhaps, I surprised the audience?  After all, it is ‘Bank’ and of course its atmosphere would make such kind of experiment a bit difficult… So, especially young people might have been somewhat startled.  I do understand that it is not easy to speak up in front of all those people.

There was some kind of ambience in the air especially discouraging open and interactive discussion and exchange.  But this ambience precisely is the reason, the cause of the ‘oppressing and discouraging young people to speak out’ feelings that prevail in our (Japanese) society today.  I, of course, pointed this out, too, as a very reason of stagnant economy of Japan.

Japanese society is unique in its mind-set and inherent value perhaps in the last 400 years- taking for granted their male-centered hierarchial organizations, seniority based promotion, social hierarchy that starts with the rank of university entrance exams-scores of the university you were admitted to ? and this uniqueness is very much the basic cause of our nation’s inability in adjusting to the rapid changes of this flattening global world- in one word, lack of flexibility.  To take advantage of the nation’s ‘strength’, our lack of ability to recognize our ‘weakness’ or to take actions – these themes also run throughout my blog postings as one of my ‘core messages’.

I would say that the typical examples that dramatically represented such themes were the ‘Toyota Problems’  and competition of the nuclear power plant bid at the United Arab Emirates won by Korean team. 

Giving a lecture at such prestigious place is a valuable opportunity.  I was honored just to be invited.  I would be very happy to have another opportunity for challenge.

A New Program of Canada

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On May 3rd, the Canadian government announced the launch of the new 5 year ‘Global Challenges Canada’ program. 

While this program collaborates with the ‘Grand Challenge Explorations’ program of the Gates Foundation, its major objective is to have Canadian researchers (though not limited) contribute to the improvement of poverty, health, public health, health care of the developing countries that participate in this program.

The program is limited to 5 years but it is an approach to construct a ‘Win-Win’ relationship with the developing countries through new form of scientific technology diplomacy. With and through the outcomes of this program, Canada is apparently trying to strengthen its presence in international agenda.

I am supporting this program as a member of the scientific advisory board,  but in Japan also, I am happy to report that cooperation with the World Bank will possibly be enhanced, Japan’s ongoing aids to African countries were recognized and approved, JICA and JST are continuing its collaborations in a number of projects.

Promoting multi dimensional effort toward MDG and other goals to fulfill the different needs of the developing countries ? from the poorest to the fairly developed ? together with many ongoing bilateral cooperation or multi nation organizations such as the World Bank is very helpful for the good of human security and the realization of MDG.

Also, it will be important than ever before to collaborate with other nations, and exchange information.

There are still many, many things that Japan can do to help solve the problems of the world.

Think for yourself what each one of you can do to contribute. The point is how you see “the world from Japan and Japan from the world”.