December: Many Meetings and Busy Days


Following the seminar by Dr. Garrett on December 2nd, the Global Conference on Universal Health Coverage, organized by the World Bank and the Japanese government (1), was held on the 5th and 6th.

President Jim Yong Kim gave an excellent key note speech, and I had the opportunity to speak with him. At the time when President Kim worked at the World Health Organization (WHO), I was the WHO Commissioner, so we knew each other indirectly.

On the afternoon of the 6th, I went to Tokai University where I was Dean of Medical School (1996-2002) for the first time in in last few years and gave a special seminar. On the 7th, there was a conference at the University of Tokyo, hosted by the Graduate School of Public Policy, with the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. The moderator was Mr. Nobuo Tanaka, a leading figure in international energy policy.

On the 9th, I had lunch at the French Embassy with Ambassador Philippe Meunier, who is the ambassador in charge of measures against AIDS and Communicable Diseases.

On the 11th, there was a meeting hosted by the Health and Global Policy Institute and held at the international conference center in the Parliament, which welcomed Governor Patrick of Massachusetts of the United States. Professor John Hamalka of Harvard University also participated via Skype. This turned out to be an outstanding conference and the governor seemed very satisfied. In the evening, there was a reception at the US Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Kennedy, there were many people there and it was a bit hectic.

On the 12th and 13th, I attended the Asian Innovation Forum with Mr. Idei, which I have already written about.

On the 14th, I headed to Abu Dhabi. There was a board members meeting of Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUSTAR) in Abu Dhabi, there I had spent a few days just three weeks ago.

In the afternoon of  the 15th after a break upon arrival, the President of KUSTAR gave a presentation to the three international board members, and the next day, 16th, the board members meeting had a good discussion and future planning.

After lunch, I enjoyed playing some golf at the wonderful Yas Links course, and then headed to the airport.

I returned Tokyo on 17th. After arriving home, I rested a bit and then in the evening had dinner with Erik Solheim at the Embassy of Norway. Mr. Solheim aimed to be a politician since his youth, has been a minister, and has contributed significant work as a Cabinet member of the Government and the world in peace keeping mission of Sri Lanka.

It has been very busy month, but I have been able to enjoy meeting many incredible people.

Seminar by Laurie Garrett


Dr. Laurie Garrett is an incredible individual who is currently a Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. We had the opportunity of having her come to GRIPS during her one week stay in Japan. She has an amazing career, starting out as a researcher in biology and going on to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

She expresses and writes on Global Health that are based on her work in the field, and I first started to work with her after her 2007 Foreign Affairs paper. As you can see in the photograph in this blog post, she highly respects Nelson Mandela, who passed away recently, and she even has a life size replica of Nelson Mandela in her room.

She kindly agreed to be a jury member to select the winner of Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize in 2008 (and in 2013) when I was the Chairman. I was grateful to have her on the committee as her opinions are based on observations from the field and deep judgment.

This made me remember something that happened when I was at the Davos World Economic Forum. When I introduced Ms. Sadako Ogata to her, she started to shed tears. I asked what happened and she replied that she respects Dr Ogata so much that she could not help but be moved to tears.

Around fifty people were at her seminar at GRIPS and it was very well received. Afterwards, many people sent emails to me expressing their thanks.

The seminar was based on the her recent article “Biology’s Brave New World: The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution”.

There are also the following her interviews/articles on the Council on Foreign Relations

1) Staying Safe in a Biology Revolution

2) Making the New Revolutions in Biology Safe

3) H5N1; A Case Study for Dual-Use Search

It is difficult to predict where biotech will go from here. However, what can be said is that ICT, nano, bio will keep moving forward and that humankind will move towards Singularity1).

One wonders what kind of world we will be in the future.

Asian Innovation Forum: The Youth of the World Come Together


The Asian Innovation Forum (AIF) (1) was started by Mr. Idei, former CEO of Sony, and I have had the privilege of helping out over the years.

This year, it was held on December 12th and 13th at GRIPS. I had the opportunity to give a lecture and serve on a panel. The second day was the competition for the Young Entrepreneur Award, by the bright, young people, which was really something. I had the privilege of giving another lecture.

Both the judges and the presentations by the young people were impressive, as they had been chosen from all over the world. There were people from Madras in India, London, Hong Kong and Dhaka, and from Japan, there were students from Keio and Waseda Universities.

Mr. Timothy Draper (1) also gave a lecture and shared fun and interesting stories based on his own experiences. It seems that it is a strength of the United States that there are such unique, out-of-the-box people. I was sitting in the front and had the opportunity to speak with him. He also wrote about the events of this day on his blog.

I also met Mr. Maheen, the Bangladesh partner of Mr. Saisho of “Dragon Sakura,” whom I have introduced on this column from time to time.

This was a gathering of diverse young people, who gave presentations and had discussions, and the entrepreneurs who support them. It is very promising.

Abroad in November -4: Taipei, Discussing the Education of Doctors


This past spring, I received an invitation from the Society of Internal Medicine in Taiwan to give a lecture. Following this, people involved in nuclear power also invited me to Taiwan. The dates were spaced out by about three or four days, so I was able to make some adjustments and attend both this time.

On the 22nd, I returned from Abu Dhabi and spent one night at home. The next day, I flew to Taipei. Two years ago, I attended the Society of Internal Medicine in Taiwan, and this time I was joined by Dr. Thomas Cooney, the Oregon Chapter Governor of the American College of Physicians. He is very passionate about education.

As the topic was the medical education and training, I commented on the movie, ‘The Doctor’, which is modeled on Dr. Edward Rosenbaum. His family carried on the trait of talented medical doctors, with his son, a distinguished scholar working at the School of Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, where Dr Cooney works, and his granddaughter, Dr. Liza Rosenbaum at the University of Pennsylvania as well as a renowned columnist for the New Yorker. What a coincidence! It is worth bringing up many topics as it leads to discussing and listening to interesting stories and things.

We all gave lectures and everyone had great insights into education and research that they have put it into practice.

The next day, I gave a talk to people in the nuclear power sector in Taiwan and some colleagues who had worked on the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission also accompanied me.

The series of six installments of The Simplest Explanation of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission received great acclaim. One person commented, “Some words appeared in Kanji (Chinese) characters so it was easy to read and follow the English narratios.”

It is imperative to share the lessons of a major accident like Fukushima Nuclear.

Abroad in November -3: To Abu Dhabi


The Etihad flight took off from Narita at night, taking me to Abu Dhabi. I was going to attend the Global Agenda Council (GAC) that was being hosted by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

It is already around my 6th year attending this council. Just like last time, I was staying at the magnificent Yas Viceroy Hotel. The council was to meet in a conference room adjacent to the venue of the recently held F1 races.

Until late in the evening, I was kept busy with my work, as I visited Khalifa Univesrity of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) where I am currently a trustee. I mainly met with various people in relation to this post. As my work was starting to wind up, news came in that the plane due to leave Narita and fly in early the next morning with many of the delegates from Japan on it had suffered from mechanical failure and had been cancelled. I took the opportunity to have a relaxed meal with my local friends.

One of the co-chairs of the hosting side of this GAC was Nasser Al Sowaidi, the chairman of the Department of Economic Development who I had met earlier in March, and I exchanged some greetings with him.

On the second day, I was the chair for the Japan Council and I used the opportunity to hold talks with the China and Korea Councils, as well as the Council for ASEAN. On the third day, I was a panelist in a discussion where the panelists first discussed the topic in question, before the floor was divided up into groups and talked about the pros and cons, after which we had the Q&A sessions. It was a very enjoyable program.

The group which was delayed because of the cancelled flight reached a day later. Although they weren’t able to participate in the full program, they must have been tired. But they seemed fine as well.

Details about this delayed group can be found on Yoko Ishikura’s blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). As one may surmise from her entries, she is super-busy, yet she manages to find the energy and time to make entries in her blog. I am really awed by her passion.

At night, I met up with Ikuo Okamoto (Wikipedia page in Japanese) after a long time, and along with Jun Murai and Inakage of Keio University, we went to the Emirate Palace for dinner.

My stay in Abu Dhabi didn’t end there. The day after the GAC, I went to KUSTAR with Mr. Satoshi Sato, who had worked with me on the NAIIC. We gave a seminar on focused on the work on the NAIIC and the current affairs surrounding nuclear energy to an audience keen to know more, for UAE is currently building nuclear power plants. Many people in nuclear power-related organizations of UAE were in attendance, and the seminar was a lively one.

I would like to note that the Abu Dhabi government is pinning high hopes on KUSTAR. This I gathered from the plans I was told about after my talk. After dinner, I headed to the airport, from where I finally started on my way home. A long trip that started in New York finally coming to an end!

Abroad in November -2: From NYC on to KL


Flew in to Narita from New York City (NYC). Sent off all the winter clothing that I had used in NY to my home before changing onto a Singapore Airlines flight, A380. This was the first time that I would be in a Suite; unlike the Emirates’s first class, there was no shower in Suite but the private cabin was wonderful.

Reached Changi Airport at half past three in the morning, then a transit to a flight around six in the morning bound for Kuala Lumpur. I had a meeting at ten.

The meeting was being held to iron out the details of the cooperation agreement that had been outlined in San Francisco, and it took a last-gasp effort to get the agreement signed.  Although I am thankful to all those involved, there is still room for improvement.  It is important to learn to move a project forward and implement it. The experience gained through such undertakings will always turn out to be useful.

Flew back to Narita on the last flight of the day. I returned home long enough to change the contents of my suitcase before heading back to Narita in the evening to catch an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi in order to attend the Global Agenda Council hosted by the World Economic Forum.

A crazy schedule? Perhaps.

Abroad in November


I was very busy during November and I’m afraid I had not updated my blog for a while.

On the 10th of November, I flew to New York City (NYC). After arriving

in the afternoon, I met with doctors who are in clinical training  there. This time, there are about ten doctors joined this time, of which three are women and some with their children along. They are very brilliant young people. Dr. Kuwama, who is an alumnus of the program, was also present. In the evening, I went to see the Broadway musical, Wicked. This is the tenth year it has been on Broadway, and the singing of the two lead women were amazing. Considering the high quality of the performers, I can understand the level of competitiveness and cannot help but be in awe.

The next day, with three friends, I visited the Kinokuniya Bookstore, had lunch with a view of the beautiful garden of MoMA, went to see the special exhibitions of the director of MoMA, Glenn Lowry, whom with I was at the Roppongi Innovation City Forum, and saw the special exhibition of Magritte, and had dinner with the board members of the GHITFUND in preparation for the board members’ meeting the next day. The dinner took place at The River Club, the most  elite and sought after clubhouses in NYC. There are five condos that are $130 million, and Henry Kissinger is one of the current  residents. There is also a tennis court in the basement.

The next day was the first day of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHITFUND) board members’ meeting. It was established  this past May but it is an innovative mechanism for contributions towards global health, and can be called the first Public-Private-Partnership from Japan, composed of the Japanese government, six companies, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was launched in May and I am currently serving as the Chair of the  Board.

In the afternoon, at the Japan Society,  I sat on a joint panel with the New York Academy of Sciences to introduce the GHITFUND.

After the reception, I attended a late dinner with the board members  of the GHITFUND at the Shun Lee Palace.

New York City was cold and there was even some snow.

The next day, I flew to Narita and made a transfer from there to Kuala Lumpur.