Participating in the TICAD6 in Nairobi – 1


The  Dementia meeting at Todai over, I headed home for a small break. The same night, (23rd August), I had to head to Haneda to catch my flight to Nairobi via Dubai.

This was going to be the first time that the TICAD (123), now in its 6th Conference, was going to be held in Africa. I was on my way to Nairobi to organize and attend 3 pre-events that would be held before the actual meetings on the 27th and 28th of August.

It was late at night but there was already a long line at the Emirates counter, and many are most likely they were going to attend TICAD. Indeed, it was the first time I ever saw such long lines for a flight to Dubai. I also met some colleagues who were headed to the same destination.

The people at the counter seemed a bit puzzled as well, and I heard whispered speculations about what the reason might be. Since it was not particularly a secret that we were going to attend TICAD, I struck up a conversation and explained the reason for the unusual crowd.

You never know what small conversations like this can lead to. It turned out somehow that I was upgraded to first class for the whole Haneda-Dubai-Nairobi flight! I was very lucky.

We reached Nairobi as scheduled, and I headed to the Hilton hotel.

The weather was great, with a summer resort climate similar to Karuizawa (Nairobi is at an elevation of around 1,800m above sea level), although it is important to be careful not to get lost in the multitude of people!

On the 25th, we went to see the preparations for the TICAD. and I participated in two meetings the following day (the 26th); one with the organising committee for the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and the other with the GHIT fund personnel.

In the evening, I was invited to the home of Yoshiyuki Sato (in Japanese 1, 2, 3), a very successful business man who has been in Kenya for more than 40 years. I thought that there would be more invitees, but it turned out that I was the only one invited.

The two-storied house was built on an area of around 1000 square metres, and was surrounded by nearly 1.5 hectares of lush green land. I sampled some of his wife’s cooking, with almost all the food coming from the farm. The wine, the pottery, the flowers, everything. Except for the meat, which had been bought, but I was informed that they had a herd of around 500 cattle, which was destined for the market.

Living in such an expansive manner, whether it be in physical terms like the house, or in spirit,  must be liberating and a far cry from being cooped up in a crowded city. I think I understand this feeling.

To Norway: the Territory on the 78th Parallel North


After the dinner with DUJAT (Dutch & Japanese Trade Federation), I departed from Schiphol Airport, landed in Oslo 90 minutes later and stayed for one night. The next morning, I boarded a charter flight with about 140 people, which flew north for three hours and landed in Longyearbyen. It is located on the 78th parallel north.

This small village is the center of the Svalbard Islands and is located on Spitzberg Island. Due to the historical background, the governance is conducted collectively by Norway, Russia and the United States. In recent years, how to tackle the issues in the arctic has become one of the world’s challenges.

The Aurora Borealis Foundation (1) hosted this gathering. It was organised mainly by Bo Ekman of the Tallberg Foundation.

I attended a conference by Tallberg in 2013 when I visited Stockholm for a conference by invitation of Vattenfall power company due to my position as the Chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.

This time, another Japanese participants was my good friend Prof Mario Tokoro of Sony, which made me feel a bit relieved. The conference was co-hosted by Christopher Chuang, who has a career in media in Taiwan, and Mr. Ekman, so there was a large group of participants from China. However, I had the impression that much of the program, lectures and remarks were rather liberal. The brainstorming sessions that took place in small groups were also very good.

Through the brainstorming session, I met Dr. Eric Rasmussen, who is a leader in the field of global health and has a very unique career path. We share some similarities and had a very productive discussion.

On the third day, there were a several optional activities and I went to Barentsburg via a boat ride that was approximately two hours one-way. I enjoyed the outing there.

There was one man from the group from China who was wearing a very peculiar hat and had a unique appearance. I got the feeling that I had seen him somewhere before and it turned out that he was thinking the same thing.

He is a renowned designer and we had seen each other numerous times at the venue and hotel of the Nobel Prize award ceremony, which took place last December. It turned out that he was the stylist of Youyou Tu, who was awarded the Nobel Prize together with Dr. Omura. He brought his apprentice on the trip as well. I look forward to running into him again someday.

On the way back, I stopped by the Global Seed Vault. It seems that there are many people who stay at Oslo and the charter flight was delayed. From Oslo Airport, I made it just in time for my connecting flight in Paris and made it to Haneda.

My luggage was left at Oslo but it arrived three days later in Tokyo.

Visits to the UK in October and November – 2


more photos→ (1)(2

After returning from London, I gave a speech at the international conference for the Red Cross in Fukushima, met with Peter Piot, and participated in many lectures. It was November before I knew it.

I participated in the World Dementia Council’s Legacy Event Japan for the entire program on both November 5th and 6th. On the 7th, the OECD-HGPI held an event that focused on the activities of private sector companies and NGOs.

I have written in my previous entry up to this point.

On November 10th, I flew to London again. This time it was for a board meeting for the GHIT fund. It was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, of which Peter Piot is the President. It is a prestigious university with a long tradition. Dr Piot is from Belgium, this reflects the strength of the UK, where people in the top positions are recruited regardless of nationality.

Similarly, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England is Canadian. This has received much attention around the world and is likely to increase global trust in the institution.

On the evening of my arrival, we had dinner at Bocca Di Lupo. The Vice President of the Royal Society, and a friend of mine, Anthony Cheetman also attended the dinner.

The next day, after finishing the board meeting, I attended a public event by GHIT Fund hosted by the Embassy of Japan as well as a reception at the Embassy in the afternoon.

I gave the closing remarks. It required much thought, as it had to convey to the audience and hosts the main message of the event as well as the remarks of the panelists and speakers. I decided to focus on two past winners of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, the only award given by the Japanese government: Brian Greenwood (1), the keynote speaker of the event and first person to receive the award, and Peter Piot, who was the chairperson of the panel at the event and the second person to receive the award. Both of their partners also made an appearance afterwards and I was happy to see Mrs. Greenwood again after six years.

After this evening event at the Embassy, GHIT board members were invited to dinner at the Ambassador’s residence. I am grateful to Ambassador and Mrs Hayashi as well as the people of the Embassy for the entire evening events

The Poppy Installation at the Tower of London was on at the time and it was a shame that I was unable to go see it.

Napa Valley Wine Auction


I left Haneda Airport shortly after midnight on the 7th of June, to head for the Napa Valley in San Francisco. I was particularly excited about this trip because I had been invited to the wine auction that is held there.

I reached a little late for dinner. I met up with old friends and made new acquaintances as the evening lazily flowed by. There were more stars in the sky than one could ever imagine seeing in the sky above Tokyo.

The next morning, we were taken on a guided tour of the winery by our host, before the auction that was being held later in the afternoon. The blazing sun beat down on us, and the temperature hovered around the 100°F mark as we made our way to the auction venue.

There were about 50 Auction items, with price tags ranging from upwards of 100,000 US$ to one item for more than 800,000 US$. I excused myself when the 40th item or so was being auctioned, and and by then, around 3 million US$ had been raised. The proceeds would be going to support the local hospitals, one that I visited on my way here, and to support youth activities.

The next day, I enjoyed a round of golf at Napa, before heading to Appleton in the evening to visit some friends. It took a 90-minute drive on the highway through a landscape dotted with wineries. I stayed at The Rose Hotel, a small, cozy and comfortable hotel in a small town. Although these small towns may epitomise the American way of life, a city boy like me would not be able to bear spending more than a week here!

The temperature outside remained near the exhaustingly hot above 100°F mark. Apparently, it was a heatwave, a sign of the climate change that we are experiencing.

I was also told stories of how this area was the birthplace of the now-world-famous Californian wine.

Taking a shower 12,000 meters up in the sky


During the past two days, I have been in Abu Dhabi in order to participate in the meeting of the Board of Trustees of Khalifa University. The flight from Narita on Etihad Airways, was a direct flight of around eleven hours.

Things have started to fall in place as the number of students has started to rise and the faculty has been bolstered by the increased presence of professors from abroad.  Although the primary focus is on engineering courses, there are also students in master’s programs in nuclear engineering.  In light of the recent developments where power-producing nuclear plants are going to be built with the help of Korea, no stone is being left unturned in the education required to make it possible.

Korea is providing assistance mainly through an education program developed by KAIST(Ref.).  Indeed, the president of KAIST, Dr. Suh is also here.

After two days of meetings, it was time to head back.  Unfortunately, there was no direct flight to Narita operated by Etihad on the 25th (the day I was to return), so I headed to Dubai from where I boarded an Emirates flight to Narita late at night.  The aircraft was an A380, and I was in first class.  There were only about four passengers in first class, so I was able to try out the showers an hour before arrival.  Although there is hot water for only five minutes, I was able to take a leisurely shower.

After showering 12,000 meters up in the sky, I arrived in Narita feeling refreshed.