“This is Liberal Arts: Summer Course 2011” by Harvard College students

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I noted in previous blog articles (Ref 1 in Japanese) that the number of students from Japanese going to top universities in the United States is dropping which caused quite a stir. This drop is a fact but it is different from the problem that the youth of today do not want to venture into the outside world. 

I have pointed this out a countless number of times (Ref. 1 2) and explained the reasons why. I look forward to picking up this topic for further discussion at a later time. 

I think you all know from the contents of this site that I make as much effort as possible to interact with the Japanese youth when I go abroad.  As you know, I get together with a lot of youth who are engaged in research in Boston, primarily in Harvard and MIT. 

The planning of this summer course on the liberal arts started as part of these interactions when Ryosuke Kobayashi, who was a sophomore at Harvard College last year came to the realization that liberal arts education is extremely important and he felt the need to convey this importance to Japanese high school students.

We discussed how to concretely get this message across in the course of emails and meetings when he visited Japan, and finally an actual course entitled “This is Liberal Arts: Summer School 2011” will be offered for one week at the end of August from the 20th to the 27th.

The main sponsor is Impact Japan which was launched last year.  The Summer Camp receives support from many individuals and groups. This Summer Camp will be attended by 25 students from Harvard, 30 students from Japanese universities and target approximately 80 high school students.  You can take a look here for more information. 

We are looking for highly motivated high school students to join us.

The Camp is scheduled to be held at GRIPS which I am affiliated with and other locations around Roppongi.

We are currently putting together what promises to be a great curriculum that will address the questions such as “why the liberal arts?” and “what are the liberal arts?” and more.

All in all, it should be a very enjoyable experience.

 

An Interview with NBR

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My opinions on the response of Japan to the 3.11 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster and the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been posted on the NBR website. This interview is entitled “Moving Forward: Relief Efforts, Health System Reforms, and Japan’s Role in Global Aid”.

Among the things that I discuss in the this interview is the establishment of an independent, international task force, to examine Fukushima nuclear disaster, which also serves to halt the loss of confidence and damaging rumor mongering in Japan.  The establishment of such task force is critically important, thus the government must take immediate action, and adopt a stance designed to learn from the mistakes of the past and share those lessons learned with the rest of the world.

I just want to ask you, dear readers, what message did you take away from this interview?

Interviews of a number of other friends (ref.1)and acquaintance have also been posted, and I encourage you to take a look.  Not an awful lot of news in English gets out of Japan, so many in the general public overseas look upon Japan with uncertainty because they are unsure of what is going on. 

However, we are in an age of new tools and venues for communication.  I, myself, have decided to try to send out at least half of my messages on Twitter in English.

 

 

An Invitation to a Dialogue with Yoko Ishikura

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The 16th International Conference for Women in Business will be held on Saturday July 23rd at the Grand Pacific Le Daiba. The theme of this conference is “Acting and connecting beyond borders.”

This event is the brainchild of Kaori Sasaki who is the CEO of eWoman, Inc.  Keeping in mind the need to save electricity, the doors to the conference rooms will open at 7:00 a.m. and the conference itself will start bright and early at 8:00 a.m.  There will be a networking lunch with the conference ending at 2:00 p.m.

You can take a look at the program here. The conference itself promises to be extremely thought provoking and I will be participating in the form of a dialogue with Yoko Ishikura in a session entitled “Connecting beyond borders”.  She has recently published a book entitled Global Careers (in Japanese). She has also moved over to Keio University in April and is taking on new challenges.  I anticipate that my dialogue with Professor Ishikura will be fun and lively.

Participation is not restricted to women and Japanese/English simultaneous interpretation will be provided.  I look forward to seeing you there!

You can sign up via the conference website.  However, I must say that the conference fee is just a little on the high side.

 

An Essential Condition for Education in the Age of Globalization: The Importance of Real Life Experience in the “Outside” World

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One thing that I am prone to repeat persistently in this site and other arenas as well is that the young (and particularly the youth of Japan) should take the leap and leave the comfort of their home ground behind! The world is becoming flatter in a figurative sense, and it is important for the youth of Japan to actually see it up close and experience for themselves what it is to see the outside world and also Japan from the outside looking in.

One thing that I am prone to repeat persistently in this site and other arenas as well is that the young (and particularly the youth of Japan) should take the leap and leave the comfort of their home ground behind! The world is becoming flatter in a figurative sense, and it is important for the youth of Japan to actually see it up close and experience for themselves what it is to see the outside world and also Japan from the outside looking in.

The network of friends and relationships that a person makes when he or she is young is a valuable asset, and those connections established with others in the course of overseas experiences when young will serve to become great assets and a treasure with global value in the years to come.

However, myself and many others like Yoko Ishikura (see her book in Japanese) who push the idea of studying overseas during high school or college or even taking time off from studies to get a taste of what it is like to live overseas.  Unfortunately, while many in Japanese society promote the idea of things like a “gap year”, the reality is that measures and reforms have yet to be put into place that ensure ‘ordinary’ employment for those individuals who decide to “take off” two to three years after http://kiyoshikurokawa.com/wp-content/uploads/typepad/201105131044.pdfgraduation from university.

I recently have written several papers related to this subject: Reforming the Healthcare Personnel Education System – Social System and Personnel Resource Innovations(in Japanese) which was published in IDE, a journal read widely by educators  and Push the Young Out of the Nest: Why Is International Exchange Important? which was published in Chemistry and Chemical Industry, a journal read widely by academics and company employees in the field of chemistry.

While others may not agree with my opinion, those who offer up reasons for not leaving Japan are doing a disservice to youth of Japan who are our future. Youth should have the option to embark on these experiences and it is the duty of adults to support and facilitate these choices.

However, as I have pointed out again and again on this site (in Japanese), (Ref. 1, 2, 3, 4) the events of ‘3.11’ have made the weaknesses of the Japanese social structure painfully obvious.

The only real path that Japan has for its own future is to nurture and educate as many individuals as possible who have the desire to spread their wings and experience the new global world.

 

 

An Invitation to a Dialogue with Professor Ikujiro Nonaka

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The University of California (UC) is system of universities with 10 campuses located throughout the state of California and it is one of the leading university systems in the United States. The schools in Berkeley and Los Angeles have the largest numbers of Japanese alumni. 

How would you like to attend a conversation between myself and Professor Ikujiro Nonaka on the topic of “Japanese Innovation in the Aftermath of the Recent Disaster ? What Will It Take?” sponsored by the joint secretariat of the UCLA Japan Alumni Association and UC Berkeley Japan Alumni. This Dialogue will be held on July 1st from 6:30 pm at the Tokyo 21c Club.

You do not need to be a member of the UC alumni association.  I would really love to have a chance to meet and talk with everyone and anyone who follows this blog.

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The 4th Berkeley Arena of Wisdom

“Japanese Innovation in the Aftermath of the Recent Disaster ? What Will It Take?”

UC Berkeley Japan Alumni Chairman: Ikujiro Nonaka

UCLA Japan Alumni Chairman: Kiyoshi Kurokawa

 

■ Date: July 1st, 2011 (Fri) 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

■ Location: Tokyo 21c Club (Shin-Marunouchi Bldg 10F)

■ Fee: UCB・UCLA members 3,000 yen (Food included but beverages separate)

            UCB・UCLA non-members 4,000 yen (Food included but beverages separate)

Professors Nonaka and Kurokawa will both participate in the reception to be held after the seminar. (Drinks are to be paid for at the time of receipt.)

■ The language of the Dialogue will be Japanese in principle with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation in English (however, questions in English are more than welcomed).

■ RSVP (deadline for registration): Please fill out the registration form by June 28th.

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A summary of this upcoming event.

●    The 4th Berkeley Arena of Wisdom will be jointly sponsored by the UCLA and Berkeley Alumni Associations.

●    We asked the alumni chairmen to host Kiyoshi Kurokawa who is a past Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Ikujiro Nonaka who is the Fuji-Xerox Professor of Knowledge at Berkeley and these two individuals are internationally recognized scholars in the area of innovation.

●    We will be able to become better acquainted with SECI model as proposed by Professor Nonaka, based on spirals formed by tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge if there are substantial contributions to the creation of science and technology policies through the use of state funds on one hand and innovation by well-positioned corporations which are sitting on a wealth of R&D. 

●    Japan will be unable to rebuild in the wake of the recent  disaster without innovation. The secretariat of the alumni association aims to expand the Berkeley Arena of Wisdom through this talk on Japanese innovation in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami by the two guests. 

●    The two speakers have made their views known in the media on the overwhelming scale of the local disaster and problems surrounding leadership. The events surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactor have made it clear that the concepts of “phronesis” as espoused by Professor Nonaka and "out-of-the-box" thinking by Professor Kurokawa as extremely relevant to the issues related to leadership in a knowledge-based society.

●    The two speakers plan on keeping their remarks brief with each speaker talking for about 30 minutes while raising and commenting on important issues. The hope is that the talk can develop into a deep discussion with attendees (however, all should be warned that given Professor Kurokawa’s love of a good debate who knows what could develop!!)

●    The language of the Talk will be in Japanese (but we may switch to English on occasion to accommodate inquiries from attendees).

●    A reception with food will be held after the seminar which will allow time for attendees to talk and get to know each other.  However, drinks are not included and should be paid for at the time of receipt. 

●    All funds collected for the seminar will be donated to disaster relief for the victims of the Tohoku Earthquake.

Mavericks Moving into New Frontiers

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I departed from Kuala Lumpur and arrived at Narita early on the morning of the 17th. 

The Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) has entered in the final stage of preparations to be certified as an official graduate school.  Meetings of the executive committee were held on the 16th and 17th.  I was unable to effectively participate in because the teleconferencing connection from Kuala Lumpur was bad and the connection wasn’t much better during the final morning session on the 17th after I returned to Tokyo. So unfortunately my input during these meetings was minimal.

OIST may very well become an international research facility that leads us into a new era. This type of approach qualifies as “going rogue” in Japan, but the OIST represents a hugely important project as we move into the future. This endeavor is, without question, deserving of our support.

I sat down in the afternoon for a talk with Dr. Robert W. Conn, CEO of the Kavli Foundation, Hitoshi Murayama of the IPMU at the University of Tokyo (which is a global research institute in the real sense of the word) and a few others. Dr. Murayama (Ref. 1) is one of only a handful of truly global leaders in opening new science frontiers. The IPMU is an institute which has become well known throughout the world over the past several year for its superior and, one could even say, unique approach, and has received the global “stamp of approval.” Dr. Murayama also gave a presentation at TEDxTokyo2010

Drs. Kalvi  and Conn are true “mavericks.” They had just met ten days before with President Obama at the White House with the 2010 Kavli Laureates. 

Dr. Conn and I crossed paths at UCLA and he often reads this blog. We are kindred spirits and our conversations are quickly became very lively. Since the mission of the Kalvi Foundation is to provide backup for leading university research labs around the world and support research in the areas of space, nanoscience, and neuroscience, we had plenty to talk about. I really hope that we can work together here in Japan. 

Dr. Maruyama is cut from the same mold as Joi Ito, the newly appointed head of the MIT Media Lab, whom I introduced on this blog, and I was pleased to be able to engage him, as he happened to be in Tokyo, in stimulating conversation.

I really hope that we can also send more graduate students from Japan to the Media Lab.

Murayama-san and Ito-san are both Japanese mavericks of the global world. I think it is essential for the revitalization of Japan, that we see more of these mavericks in Japan.

 

Kuala Lumpur – Pacific Science Congress

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I had the honor of being appointed eight years ago to the Presidency of the Pacific Science Association (PSA) and we held the 2007 Pacific Science Congress in Okinawa and then the 2009 Inter-Congress in Tahiti (Ref 1, 2, 3).  I have already, as you may know, talked about these gatherings on this site.

The Pacific Science Congress also has a committee within the Japan Science Council and belongs to the International Council of Science (ICSU).  This organization has a long and illustrious history of 98 years.

The Congress was held this year in Kuala Lumpur from June 14th to June 17th, and as the Immediate Past-President, I was invited to give a Keynote address.  I departed on the 13th for Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia is a country that is vibrant and growing and it is pouring its energies into policies designed to promote education along with scientific and technological innovation.  Many local researchers who receive backing from the government were in attendance at the conference making for a really excellent gathering.

The title of my Keynote address was “Age of Uncertainty: Have We Become Wiser?” and my objective was to be as stimulating and thought provoking as possible.  Of course, many in the audience also expressed their support, concern and condolences regarding the recent tsunami and the subsequent events in Fukushima.

Everyone present seemed to find my address interesting and it prompted numerous questions from the audience.  The next day I even sat down for a live TV interview that lasted approximately 25 minutes. I was pleased to find out that Greg-san from Nagasaki University observed on his blog that the spirt in the room during my address heightened.

The Japan Science Council’s Hatai Medal was awarded this year to Professor Katsumi Tsukamoto (Ref. 1) for his research on the origin and migration of Pacific eels.  Professor Tsukamoto picked up his award in the company of his wife and I want to offer him my heartfelt congratulations on receiving this honor. 

I also was able to meet up with Dr. Robert Underwood (left photo below) who is the President of the University of Guam and had served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2003.  He talked about the far-flung Pacific Islands including the problems they grapple with in the areas of education and health care as well as their unique relationship with the United States from an extremely interesting perspective. He extended an invitation to me to visit Guam and I think that I would like to take him up on his offer sometime within the next year.  The Congress was an overall enjoyable experience which allowed me to see many old friends, make some new ones and meet young up-and-coming researchers.

With underwood Group photo 

I have previously talked about the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) which operates under the Malaysian Prime Minister, and I also had the opportunity to meet for around an hour with Dr. Zakri, who is the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor, and his staff. The members were truly an impressive lot and I was honored to be able to participate in this confab.

The next Inter-Congress meeting is scheduled to be held two years from now at the University of the South Pacific (Fiji).  How about joining us then??

 

 

Transparency of Information is the Basis of Trust: What is PM Kan’s Cabinet Doing?

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Ever since the Fukushima nuclear power plant breakdown, I have been pointing out in my web site that openness and transparency of information is the basis of trust for any organizations, be it government or enterprises. And in the case of Fukushima I regret to say that this openness and transparency lacked to a fatal degree especially in the initial stage.
 
The fall of trust in Japan’s government and authority seems clear to the world, and this openness is the risk shared by all Japan Enterprises in this global world.  Unfavorable rumors or misinformation about agricultural produce or industrial products, thus harming credibility of Japan (‘Fuhyo Higai’ in Japanese), basically originates from this mistrust in Japan.

To address this issue, I pointed out as the “Next Step” (Ref.1,2,3) the importance of launching a Commission/Task Force consisting of independent, international members.

I understand that some legislators recognize the importance of such processes, and their number seems to be increasing.
 
At this challenging timing, domestic politics is seemingly occupied by the ‘storm in a cup’, and I fear that the world is gradually spreading the notion that governance of Japan’s authority is really no good.

IAEA issued a report on the result of its investigation of Fukushima pointing out that the transparency of information and speed of briefing was fatally unsatisfactory.  It is no surprise that they say so.

Such tendency of Japan was being observed internationally for some time at many arenas, but it so seems that they thought it, understandably, was a domestic problem.

However, now, people are being more aware of this weakness as they were pointed out in relation to the response of Japanese authorities to Fukushima and the investigation of that followed.

Below are the recent commentaries for your reference.  I think people involved are well aware of these issues.
1.Comments by Bruno Pellaud, former Director General of IAEA (in Japanese)
2.Credibility of Yukiya Amano, Director General, IAEA , questioned (in Japanese)
3.Comments on the weakness of the Government of Japan (in Japanese)

We must swiftly move on to the next “Step” to regain trust.  No matter what we do, it takes a long time to regain the trust once lost.

 

Geneve; Todai President Council at the WEF Head Quarter -1

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The President Council of Todai is held in early June annually.  This year’s meeting, by the invitation of Professor Klaus Schwab, our member and also the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF, popular as the Davos Meeting), was set at the WEF Head Quarter (HQ) in Geneva.  By the way, last year’s meeting was held in New York City.

As I landed in Geneva via Paris, I found the weather cold and rainy.  After a short break, I headed to Cologny, one of the most prestigious area in Geneva where the WEF HQ is located, and as I gazed at the mountains across the lake, behind the UN and other buildings, I noticed them covered with new snow.  I was told that the weather was very hot only last week, like 30℃/86?.  It was a pity.

I enjoyed reunions with many friends working at the WEF HQ, having lunch together, talking about the agenda.  So many young people from various backgrounds, various nationalities are working here.  There were several Japanese, too.  Most of them, including the Japanese, are here temporarily for some years, as a part of their career paths, but the work presents them opportunities to get in touch with the leaders of the world, making friends, and expanding networks.

The next day was a national holiday here, and most of the places were closed.  However, the reception at the WEF HQ from the evening was full and cheerful with the presence of President Hamada of Todai, the Council members, and OB/OG of Todai working in Geneva and its adjacent areas.  There I met Dr Suwa, introduced several years ago by Dr. Ito.  He is a graduate of Todai, Department of Science, earned Master’s degree at Duke University, PhD at Princeton University, and taught in Rwanda for about 3 years.  Dr Suwa is currently working at the World Meteorological Organization and hopes to return to Rwanda to teach after his term at WMO is over.  I introduced him to President Hamada right away.  I also had the pleasure of greeting HE Suganuma, the Ambassador of Japan to Swiss.  Here in Geneva, many are related to governmental organizations, so I had opportunities to meet many friends (though most of them were much younger than I….)

In the evening, I had dinner with the Council members at the Hotel.  Professor Kobayashi  (Ref.1) the head of Japan team at CERN was of course invited, too.  I was seated next to Mr Bill Emmott and we talked mostly over Fukushima.  I think many of you know him.  He was the head of Tokyo office and then editor of the Economist, and authored many books on Japan (please search at Amazon).  I understand that he is recently writing on Italy.

There were lots of topics to talk about; Japan after 3.11, how journalisms or scientists should be, businesses, politices….. I felt that concerns and attentions to Japan are high after 3.11.

Mr. Emmott told me that he plans to visit Tokyo in June.

 

Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government Visits GRIPS

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I have written several times here(in Japanese)(Ref.1)on the Chief Science Advisors to the UK Government.  As the representatives of the scientists of the United Kingdom, they are well trusted by the science community and have great responsibilities to the government in giving advices in their policy makings.  

This post is currently served by Sir John Beddington from three years ago, if I remember correctly.  He is a wonderful person.  I happen to be especially close to his predecessors Sir David King, and Robert May (later the President of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford); we trust each other and get along quite well.

This is one of the most highly respected positions in the British Government (Ref.1) (both links are in Japanese), and therefore a person is carefully and well selected to assume the responsibility.  This background is observed clearly in the healthy relations between the science community and legislators – particularly the Prime Minister (although the distance varies depending on the Prime Minister of the time.  Tony Blair, for example, is said to have been quite eager and used to have discussions with the Chief Scientific Adviser almost weekly… I think that, in the end, it is a matter of the level of insights of the top of the administration how they use these wonderful advisors….)

Taking the opportunity of Sir Beddington’s visit to Japan, GRIPS invited him to give a lecture and a panel, and the event was moderated by Mr. Akira Ikegami, a well known journalist/TV broadcaster. The main topic was “3.11 and Fukushima”.  It was a quite nice conference, with lots of participants, good Q&As from the audience and twitter.

I was invited to ask first question to Sir Beddington after his speech.  Its video record is uploaded on Youtube (part 1)(part 2) and summary document is available at these links (Ref.1 in Japanese) (Ref.2 in English) .

His presentation was very clear and good.  I understood very well that he was speaking with full sensitivity to political issues and process.  I hope you will learn a lot from his lecture on how to communicate/work with governments.  On the other hand, I think it would be interesting also to imagine what Japanese people in such a position would say or act if they were in a similar circumstance.

My question appears right in the end of Dr. Beddington’s presentation (I urge you to listen to this…), after a comment by Mr. Ikegami, the host.

Fukushima is a global issue and the lecture was given at the timing when we were waiting for the results of the investigations by the IAEA. 

Good questions were raised from the floor, too.