Inauguration Ceremony of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST)


I have introduced OIST (Ref.1)  to you several time in this site.  Now, OIST is officially approved as a graduate university starting from November 1st, since the government has given permission.

In Japan, as well as in other countries, we have been discussing much about the reform of universities or researches to address today’s needs.  However, at least from my perspectives, nothing has changed much.  I have been pointing this out  every now and then in my web site whenever appropriate.

On November 18th, the first board meeting as a university was held at OIST.  I have been supporting this project from the start, so I attended and joined in the seminar in the morning of 19th where four researchers gave presentations.  The presenters introduced to the audience new type of researches which were not only interdisciplinary, but also had great scale of scopes.  The researchers from the world who were at the seminar were apparently very impressed.  It is our earnest hope that we promote such unique researches open to the world that will contribute to the solution of global issues, as well as to nurture young researchers of the next generation equipping them with both the mind set and power to take action for such solutions.

In the afternoon, the inauguration ceremony was held.  Mr. Tatsuo Kawabata, current Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Mr. Koji Omi, the first person who came up with the idea of this project, and Ms. Yuriko Koike, the Minister prior to Mr. Kawabata were among the guests.  From Okinawa, Governor Hirokazu Nakaima, Mr. Keiichi Inamine, the former Governor were present.  Many more from in and out of Japan attended the ceremony.  The list of main participants should be available for your reference at the website of OIST.

There were four speeches at the ceremony.  Among them, the one I particularly liked was the speech given by Dr Charles Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering, who served for 14 years as the President of MIT, as a message addressed to this new Graduate University, titled “On Universities of the 21st Century.”  I understand that those speeches will be uploaded on the website of OIST soon.

It was a pity that the weather was a bit rainy this day, that the ceremony had to move its place from the wonderful courtyard to the auditorium.  However, we had a small intermission of the rainfall in the afternoon, and we enjoyed for about 20 minutes dance performance and such at the courtyard.

Discussing Pharmaceutical Evaluation Process at Seoul, Energetic Youths of Japan


The problem of “Drug Lag” in Japan – that approval of pharmaceutical products take longer time and thus is behind western countries – had been being pointed out by many since quite a while ago.

One of the endeavors to address this issue is “ICH -International Conference of Harmonization”, a conference launched about 20 years ago by Japan, USA, and EU.  It continues its activities to date, and I had been a part of it.  Last year, we held a joint conference (Ref.1) of Japan, Korea, UK, and USA to discuss the issue of “Cancer Clinical Trials”

Growing countries such as China and Korea have already introduced the system into their country, and it was to discuss mainly on this theme that I went to Seoul from 14th (Mon) as an overall moderator of the one and a half day conference by the invitation of a pharmaceutical company. 

Upon my arrival, I went right away to see Mr. Richard Samans at the “Global Green Growth Institute”  , an organization founded by current President, Mr. Lee Myung-bak with Mr. Han Seung-Soo (Ref.1), the first Prime Minister of the Lee administration, as the Head of the Board.  Mr. Samans and I are friends from the time he was working for the World Economic Forum.

On the following day, I led the one and a half day conference to discuss from various aspects the pharmaceutical evaluation/assessment issues with special focus on the evaluation system in Japan, Korea and China.

After dinner at the hotel, I decided to stroll a bit at the “Myondon” street, a shopping area.  Here I saw many young people, and felt a good energy.  I saw the new shop which UniQlo, a Japanese casual clothing shop, just opened as its flagship shop close to ZARA and H&M.  It was a good feeling to see this energetic Japanese enterprise performing actively at this busy area.

Another good feeling was that after the one and a half day conference, we became acquainted with each other, and I could sense that many new exchanges were about to begin.

It was about a two hours’ flight from the Gimpo airport to Haneda Airport.  From Haneda, I went directly to Swiss Embassy.  A reception for “Global Shapers Community” (Ref.1) was being held.  I always enjoy seeing young people working actively in various fields.  Being with them also gives me energy.  After the reception, I spent about an hour with a reporter from “The Economist”, partly to be interviewed, and then went back to my home at around 11pm.

It was a long but a very fulfilling day.


CSIS-HGPI Conference at Fukushima


CSIS is a famous Think Tank located in Washington D.C. which is well known among Japanese.  Our Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) has worked with CSIS on a number of joint projects beginning last year as I have previously talked about on this site. 

In the early days of this year, HGPI together with CSIS engaged in various activities including meetings with members of the Japanese Diet and some of the results of these activities were presented to the public in a report. 

In particular, CSIS rapidly responded in the wake of 3.11 by coming up with proposals for the rebuilding of Japan and they are also working together HGPI in the fields of health and medical care.  This site has reported (Ref.1) on these activities.

A gathering was held to announce this “Partnership for Recovery and a Stronger Future: Standing with Japan after 3-11” on November 3rd, 2011 in Washington D.C. followed by a similar gathering in Tokyo during the week of November 7th.  This report can be accessed via the web as well. 

A gathering was held in Fukushima on Friday, November 11th to report primarily on the joint activities with HGPI. (Please click here for the programs) The meeting was extremely productive with approximately 70 attendees, and I am extremely grateful to those who participated on a day when Fukushima was in a light drizzle.  

Among the participants were Michael Green, Stephen Morrison and Brian Biles from CSIS. While Seiji Maehara, Chairman of the Policy Research Committee, of the Democratic Party of Japan had to cancel at the last minute due to matters related to the Transpacific Strategic Economic Partnership, participants from the Japanese side included Mitsuru Sakurai (in Japanese), Acting Chairman of the Policy Research Committee of the Democratic Party of Japan (he is a former Senior Vice Minister of Finance and physician from Tohoku University), Masao Uchibori (in Japanese), Vice-Governor of the Fukushima Prefectural Government, Kazuhiko Toyama who owns transportation-related companies in Fukushima and Ichiro Tsuji (in Japanese) of Tohoku University. 

Dr. Seigo Izumo (in Japanese) who participated in this event resides in Boston, but he jumped in from an early juncture with radiation measurements and medical treatment policies.  Dr. Izumo is a Japanese doctor who was behind me in school.  After graduation from medical school, he went overseas and embarked on an illustrious career as a professor of internal medicine at Harvard with a specialization in cardiac medicine.  He is now working more on the business side and is engaged in work that allows him a more flexible schedule. 

The medical care related themes are focused around the three pillars of radiation, coping with psychological issues and reforming how medical care is provided, and a goal is to create an “Open Platform” that facilitates cooperation between the United States and Japan.  

When we returned to Tokyo, six of us, Michael Green, Stephen Morrison, Brian Biles, Seigo Izumo, Yoshiji Makino (in Japanese) (a freelance journalist who is known for his opinion pieces) and myself gathered for dinner.  Everyone was greatly pleased with the conference and we discussed what should be the next steps.  It was, all in all, an extremely fulfilling day. 

As a final bit of food for thought, Dr. Izumo carried a Geiger counter while we were walking about and actually recorded readings of over 10 uSv/hs!


Bilateral Exchange with Botswana


I had the opportunity at the beginning of last year to visit the country of Botswana (Ref. 1, 2, 3) at the request of the Botswana government and meet with high-level government representatives of many different ministries.  I also had the opportunity to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs who accepted a report on science, technology and innovation policies which I proposed at the time.  The Minister has accompanied the President on his recent visit to Japan.

During this current visit, Dr. Ponatshego H. Kedikilwe, a Minister with the Botswanan government received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun and a reception was held in his honor by the Botswana embassy.  The reception was held in a small, intimate space which was permeated with a friendly and celebratory atmosphere.

During the Minister’s stay in Japan, I was able to meet for around an hour with a number of individuals who are heads of different government bureaus and had accompanied the Minister to Japan. My proposal of the previous year had made its way through the Parliament, and they reported on its passage and we also talked about what the future holds. It is also important that cooperation be offered from a variety of perspectives including outside of the auspices of the government.  This is particularly true in the modern world we live in.

Japan has started to actively provide assistance and support to Africa.  In particular, the cooperation (Ref. 1, 2) of JICA, which is in charge of ODA, and JST, which is in charge of science and technology policies, over the past several years is encouraging.

The exchange of human resources through multiple different levels and venues is at the core of a strong and vital foreign policy in our global world of today.


After One Year, The Dragon Cherry Blossoms Achieves Another Feat


Mr Atsushi Saisho, a Waseda University Student who started an e-Education at a poor village in Bangladesh, sent me a good news again this year, which will be a follow up of the great achievement (Ref.1) they have accomplished last year.

The message read;

“The list of students who passed this year’s entrance examination of Dhaka University C course was announced at Dhaka just now.

Total 45,000 students applied for the 12,000 quota of the year 2012 Undergraduate Course of Economics of the Dhaka University.  Ten of the third grade senior high school students at our Tangail school house sat for the exam and as the result, Mr Opurbo, 19 years old, passed with the wonderful score ranking of 783th.

Many other entrance exams are still yet to be held but now we succeeded in producing a Dhaka University student for two consecutive years!

I thank Mr Mahin of Dhaka University, my partner at Bangladesh, for his  leadership and commitment, as well as all the teachers for their great support of the program.

The news of the last years’ success was covered by a number of medias within Bangladesh and also in Japan.   As Mr Saisho and his group continued their activities, many new problems and issues arouse but they never gave up.  They are still working hard to overcome those obstacles.  I am certain that these experiences will turn to become their assets in the future and empower them.  Some might call this power “Zasetsu ryoku (experiences to overcome from failure)”.  As the saying goes; “Heavy work in youth is quiet rest in old age”. (or ‘Cherish the hardships you endure in youth’.) Life is long and hard work in youth will always be paid back in later years.

Each and every youths are working hard at their given places.  Please give them your warm support and continued attention.



An Invitation to the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)


The Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) has been held simultaneously over the past three years around the world for one week in the middle of November.  You can access a list here [Ref. 1, 2] of the participating countries and the main events which are scheduled for this year.

As I have touched upon numerous times on my own site [Ref. 1, 2, 3, 4] we in Japan would like to expand the reach of these activities throughout the whole of Japan.

Many of the individuals who are involved in these activities were also involved in the establishment of Impact Japan which I have also introduced on this site.

The Honda Foundation served as host for the past three years. Currently the Kauffman Foundation, which has become a central figure in these types of global activities, is acting as the Japanese host with Impact Japan scheduled to take on these duties from next year.

This year’s GEW will be held from November 14th through the 20th.  Many events [1, 2 ] will be held in Tokyo and Kyoto that are open to the public.  I highly encourage you to take a look at the schedule and think about attending.  I am sure that you will meet many interesting people there.

I hope that these activities can spread further throughout Japan and the rest of the world as we move into the coming new year.

Schedule – November 2011

"Reconstruction in Tohoku: An Open Dialogue on Strategies and Partnerships"

Date & Time: Friday, November 11, 2011   13:00-16:00
Venue: CORASSE Fukushima in Fukushima city
             (West exit of Fukushima Station)
Contact Information : Health and Global Policy Institute
                      FAX: +81(0)3-5511-8523  E-mail:
             * Reservation Form

Announcement of the November 11th (Friday) Conference


The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a prominent Think Tank based in Washington DC,  is poised to release the final report of its ‘U.S.-Japan Partnership for Recovery Task Force after 3.11’   in Washington and Tokyo.   In Washington DC, the announcement was made today. In Tokyo, a symposium will be held next week in collaboration with Keidanren.

HGPI, the think tank in Japan which I chair,  had partnered with CSIS on issues of healthcare (Ref.1).

Upon this occasion, HGPI-CSIS will hold a conference for a dialogue between Japanese and U.S. experts, inviting Dr. Michael J. Green, CSIS Japan Chair, Dr. J. Stephen Morrison, CSIS Senior Vice President and Director of the CSIS Global Health Policy Center, Mr. Seiji Maehara,  Chairman of the Democratic Party of Japan’s Policy Research Committee, Dr. Mitsuru Sakurai, former Vice Minister of the Ministry of Finance, in the afternoon of Friday, November 11th, in Fukushima. 

If you have time, please come and join us.  For details on program, venue, and application form, please see here (for Japanese version, please click here).

I hope you will be kind enough to tolerate any inconvenience which you may experience at the venue, due to the circumstance in Fukushima.