Cambridge Pembroke Players Tour


Pembroke College is the third oldest college at the University of Cambridge, which was established over 800 years ago. On the first Sunday of autumn, I attended a play by the Cambridge Pembroke Players, a student theatrical society, which visited my old high school, Seikei-Gakuin.

Seikei-Gakuin holds an annual “Shakespeare Week” at this time of year and students from Pembroke College have visited the school as part of the international student cultural exchange since 2007.

This year, they performed “The Comedy of Errors” (1). The auditorium was packed with a nearly full audience.

The students said they practice three times a week. Their Japan tour will last for three weeks and their next stop is Meiji University.

It is great to see such students’ activities and I encourage Japanese universities to embark on similar projects.

July, Gone in a Flash


I have not posted a new entry since the end of June. I apologize for the delay, I became busy with many things.

From the end of June to the beginning of July, I gave seminars for four days in a row, including over the weekend. I spoke at Mr. Takejiro Sueyoshi’s CSO Seminar, Ms Yoko Ishikura’s Global Agenda Seminar, and the Global Leadership Studies Seminar at International Christian University(ICU). Including the Q&A sessions, the longer seminars lasted over three hours. It was great to see many energetic, young people.

I also took part in the MIT Media Lab @ Tokyo 2014 at Toranomon Hills. I also attended the award ceremony of the 2014 L’Oreal – UNESCO For Women in Science Japan Award (1) at the official residence of the French Ambassador, among others.

At the end of July, I visited Paris for a meeting with the OECD. It was part of the World Dementia Council, which I reported on in April and began in London. I had half a day off so I went to see the Orangerie Museum.

As many unexpected things happened, the summer has become quite busy.

To London -2: Shakespeare’s Globe


→Images of Shakespeare’s Globe

On my third day in London, May 1st, it was drizzling and a bit chilly.

In the morning, I strolled through Hyde Park for about twenty minutes to Marble Arch. I visited the office of a British friend who had just returned from a two year post in Singapore for about an hour. At the beginning of this year, his firm opened a new office in Tokyo and I had seen him at a reception at the UK Embassy in Tokyo. However, it was nice to sit down and have a relaxed talk.

At noon, I met with Ms. Ninomiya, who is a graduate student studying Politics at the University of Oxford and who worked on the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) in its translation and editing team. She had just submitted her master’s thesis and is currently finishing up the year, with her final exams to be held at the end of June (for these past two years, she has translated many of the entries on this blog). From there, we went to Chatham House and met with the former UK Ambassador to Japan, Sir David Warren. We talked for around an hour regarding the conference that is to be held in Tokyo in October of this year. I saw former Ambassador Warren only two weeks ago when he visited Tokyo and my office at GRIPS. Afterwards, I met with Mr. Mizuno, who is a member of advisory committee on the Japan’s Cabinet “Japanese NIH” Plan and had just returned to the UK from a business trip. We had tea at his club on Pall Mall.

In the evening we attended a play at Shakespeare’s Globe.

The production was “Titus Andronicus”. It is said to be the most brutal of Shakespeare’s revenge plays. Former Ambassador Warren, who had also seen it two days before, shared with us that the reviews in the newspapers reported several members of the audience having fainted during the performance.

The play was a three hour long production, starting at 7:30 P.M. and ending at 10:30 P.M. As can be seen in the photos, rain was pouring into the theatre, which only had a makeshift roof and windows with wooden frames and therefore, was very cold. The members of the audience standing in the yard area in front of the stage (the tickets are around six pounds) seemed to come prepared knowing this and it was very ‘British’ way of doing things. Even so, they were very patient in enduring the rain and cold. The yard area is also used by the actors as an extension of the stage, so it must have been exciting for the audience.

It was quite late when the play ended but Ms. Ninomiya was able to return by taking the bus that runs between London and Oxford twenty-four hours a day, which must be convenient for students.

My flight the next morning was with Virgin Atlantic and the check-in desk at the airport, the service and the lounge were all quite good.

Gathering for Assistance for Africa, Ms. Anayango


There is an organization composed of Japanese businesses, the Gates Foundation, and the Japanese government, which tackles the major diseases troubling developing countries, namely malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and others. It is called the Global Health Innovation Technology Fund (1) and I am the representative of the board of directors.

Malaria No More Japan, Health and Global Policy Institute and GHIT Fund co-organized a campaign event centered on young people. It was a very fun and lively gathering.

I met with a young doctor who I had encountered two years ago in Nairobi, as well as Dr. Sugimoto. I had not seen them for a while and it was nice to catch up with them. Dr. Sugimoto was in Japan but his family is in Nairobi.

Nyatiti is a traditional instrument in Kenya that can only be played by men but Ms. Anyango (Eriko Mukouyama) (1, 2) is the exception and she gave a marvelous performance playing the nyatiti and singing.

Japanese women are strong. Anyango was entranced by African music, went to Africa by herself and since then has been actively performing in the world. She must have encountered some obstacles along the way and it is impressive that she was the first woman to have been given the right to play this instrument.

It was a wonderful evening.

Congratulations! Shigeru Ban is Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize


Shigeru Ban. An architect known all over the world, he has also demonstrated his compassion and philanthropy by helping create cost-effective temporary housing and great buildings for disaster affected regions. He is indeed, a great man.

Congratulations on being awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

I am privileged to have a friendship with Mr. Ban that goes back almost a decade, not to mention that we are both alumni of Seikei Gakuen (in Japanese). In addition, he is the architect behind the critically acclaimed design of the library at Seikei Gakuen (in Japanese).

I met him for the first time in 2012 at the World Economic Forum in New York City. I remember because of the location. Although the WEF is always held in Davos, 2012 was the only time that another city was hosting the event, in commemoration of the tragedy of the September 11th attacks. This was also where I attended a memorable session where leaders of both academic and science community and religious grops came together over lunch and had a very interesting discussion.

Mr. Ban has also appeared on TEDxTokyo in 2013. He manages to convey the essence of what he does in this presentation, and it is worth a watch.

I remember one time, when I tried to arrange a meeting several months in advance, and I asked him about his availability. I was startled by his reply, which was that ‘I don’t plan more than a month in advance. Who knows what kinds of tragic events might happen thusu where I might be’.

Leading groups of young people, he has travelled all over the world, quickly to regions affected by disaster, like L’Aquila, Christchurch, Haiti and Tohoku. There, he has helped in the rebuilding process by creating functional and beautiful buildings out of paper.

But one of the most awe-inspiring creations of Mr Ban to me was the ‘Nomadic Museum’ (in Japanese), not to mention the ‘Ashes and Snow’ collection within it. Another building of note is the NG Hayek Center in Ginza, Tokyo, which also houses the flagship store of Swatch. A unique project, it is elegant and refined, making it a joy to visit.

I am very pleased and happy to be able to appreciate the work of Shigeru Ban, truly a worldwide presence.

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.

Innovation City Forum Panel


It is already the tenth anniversary of Roppongi Hills. To commemorate the tenth anniversary, there have been many events held recently. One of those events, the Innovation City Forum took place over three days during mid-October.

I was invited to the closing session of the last day and was quite moved. The moderator was Mr. Nanjo, the director of the Mori Art Museum and the panel was composed of Glen Lowry, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate Gallery(1) in London, Joi Ito director of the MIT Media Lab, and myself.

Mr. Joi has been involved in the organisation of this forum and Mr. Lowry and Mr. Serota are superstars. Each of the panellists gave ten minute presentations and then proceeded to the panel discussion.

The presentations and comments were brilliant. I spoke about future cities and museums and prepared some presentation slides which allowed flexibility in what I would say so that I would not be overlap with the others.

It is also the ten year anniversary for the Academy Hills. However, it feels like it has been here for a longer time. I am grateful to Mr. Mori, who has overcome many obstacles and spent much time pursuing the ideal of the urban planning.

I am grateful to Mr. Nanjo and everyone who gave me this opportunity.