From Abu Dhabi – 1


I visited Abu Dhabi after some time. This time I came with the purpose of developing greater university and Japan related networks in Abu Dhabi.

The twenty people or so whom I came with included Mr. Toyoda, the former senior officer of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Professor Nakano, the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology of University of Tokyo, and others who have a deep relations with Abu Dhabi. My connection to Abu Dhabi and this delegation formed because I am a member of Board of Trustees of Khalifa University and also because I was a member of the President’s Council at the University of Tokyo, as well the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo and I had wanted to further mutual relationships between universities. Although it has only been forty years, Japan and the United Arab Emirates have had deep relations, not just limited to the spheres of education and research. The United Arab Emirates is one of the main exporters and Japan is one of the main importers of oil. Last month, Minister Motegi visited the area and many agreements were made, with the involvement of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.

We arrived late at night and the following day we visited the campus of United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, which is the national university of UAE. Many Western universities and companies have opened research offices there and it is possible to see the vibrant teaching and research that is going on. They are especially passionate regarding the undergraduate education. It is disappointing that Japan is not participating in such activities. I learned that there is a club called the Sakura Club for students who want to know more about Japan and become friends with Japanese.

In the afternoon, we visited the main campus of UAE in Al Ain. It was ninety minutes by car. The weather was sunny and the temperature was a comfortable 25 to 27℃. We were shown the excellent campus. I have visited the medical school there three or four years ago. The medical school has ties with John Hopkins University. Here too, the undergraduate education is the core of the university.

We were scheduled to depart at five but as we entered the majestic building of the main campus, we came across a sign that announced “Sakura Club event” from five to six. As we quickly changed our plans and entered the auditorium, we saw that there were some Japanese female university students wearing kimonos and a woman who was performing a classical Japanese dance. This happened to be Mako Hattori and her team. We know each other and so we were very surprised to meet here by chance. Considering that around twenty Japanese men suddenly and unexpectedly came into the auditorium, they must have been quite surprised. This unexpected meeting made us very delighted and we all greatly enjoyed Ms. Mako’s explanation of the kimono and dance.

Also present were Ambassador Kamo and his wife, who took the post last November.

I met a student from Waseda University who is studying here for one year. She must have been surprised to say the least. She said her university life has been very fulfilling.

In the auditorium, the female students sat to the left of the stage and the male students sat to the right. This is the local custom.

We left after about half an hour, but it must remain in the minds of the students as a good memory.

Such unexpected meetings can occur in the most unlikely places.


HGPI Health Summit, then to Rio de Janeiro


After returning from my Paris – Boston trip, I was in Tokyo for one week and was quite busy. On the 22nd, the Health Summit (1)of the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) was held. Both the panellists and audience were outstanding and was a great success. I received many kind words of thanks and support from many individuals. The panel was excellent, perhaps due to our focus on the challenges facing Japan two years after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami and Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto gave a greeting, and the wife of Ambassador Roos sat on the Gender Equality panel. Please see the HGPI website to learn more about the Health Summit. Reports will be uploaded shortly.

On the 24th Sunday, I took a thirty-hour flight to mid-summer Rio de Janeiro. For the past ten years, I have been deeply involved with the “InterAcademy Panel” as Vice-President and President of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), and I was asked by SCJ and IAP to serve on the panel at the general conference.

This time I flew via Dubai, flying twelve hours from Narita to Dubai, stopping over there for two hours, and then flying to Rio de Janeiro for fifteen hours. Both flights were Emirates and were very convenient. I slept from time to time, watched a few movies and had a restful trip.

Rio was very hot, around 30 to 35C, but I was almost always inside the conference rooms and I was able to enjoy my time meeting with many friends. The main theme of the conference was “Grand Challenges and Integrated Innovation: Science for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development”. I went to the conference venue for the last afternoon session of Feb 25th. Peter Singer of Grand Challenges Canada lead the session.

The next morning, I took a wonderful hour long stroll along the Copacabana beach. I spent the day attending the conferences, had dinner with Chairman Onishi of the Science Council of Japan and some others, and at two in the morning, took the Emirates flight back the route which I came.

With the multitude of changes occurring throughout the world, academia must not fall short of being highly aware of its role as an important actor. On this note, the closed session on the report by the Royal Society, “Science as an Open Enterprise 2012,” in which the Editor-in-Chief of Nature, Philip Campbell was a panelist (and also one of the commission members of the report), was excellent. The high awareness and active approach of British scientists, who continuously publish pioneering reports on new topics, is outstanding. The British government takes the same approach, for example, see the “Stern Report”.

By the way, this time n the flights, the movies which I thought were particularly good were “Chasing Mavericks” (US) and “All About My Wife” (Korea). Although it was business class, the screen was large and there was a good line up of movies. I have already seen academy nominated films such as “Lincoln” (congratulations on winning the Academy Award for Best Actor) some time ago.

However, I was disappointed that I could not take the “shower in midair”, since I did not ride first class on any of the flights between Narita and Dubai.