From Davos (3)

January 26th was the busiest day in Davos. In the morning, we had a panel discussion, "Who Funds Research and Innovation?" and I was a facilitator. The eight panelists were as follows:

? Carol Bartz, Executive Chairman, Autodesk, USA
? Seth Berkeley, President and CEO, International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, USA
? Alexander Bradshaw, Scientific Director, Max-Planck-Institute for Plamsa Physics, Germany
? James Fruchterman, President and CEO, The Benetech Initiative, USA: Social Entrepreneur
? Thomas Insel, Director, National Institute of Mental Health, USA
? Linda Lomier, Vice-President, Yale University, USA
? Neelie Kroes, Commissioner, Competition, European Commission, Brussels
? Xu Zhihong, President, Peking University, People’s Republic of China

They are all preeminent people and we had a great discussion. I think we all have different opinions, although sharing a mutual understanding and a common goal is very important in the process of having an open discussion.

At the same time of my panel discussion, Dr. Yoko Ishikura and Mr. Thomas Stewart, the Editor Managing Director of Harvard Business Review co-chaired a panel discussion: "How Cities Drive Innovation." Of course I couldn’t attend it.

In the afternoon, a very interesting panel discussion "How Much Should World Spend on Healthcare?" was held and the facilitator was my friend, James Kondo. Dr. Michael Porter, who has risen in the field medical policy as of late, was one of the panelists. He attended the panel discussion of the same theme with me last year.

I was not able to attend Dr Kondo’s discussion, because I was invited to another closed-door, unofficial discussion, "The Meeting of the Chemical Industry’s Presidents." Mr. Sadayuki Sakakibara, the president of Toray Industries Inc. and Mr. Hiromasa Yonekura, the president of Sumitomo Chemical (Picture 1) were also invited. Dr. Daniel Esty (Yale University) was present as well (Picture 2).


Picture 1 Mr. Yonekura, the president of Sumitomo Chemical (second from the right).


Picture 2 Dr. Esty, myself, and Dr. Siwei, Chinese big-name. You can see the book, Green to Gold.

I got along with Dr. Etsy very well and he gave me his recent book, Green to Gold. This book will be very helpful in explaining how companies should function in the future. Dr. Etsy wrote with clarity on companies and their environmental responsibility. I want many Japanese corporate workers to read this book. I believe the book helps to predict upcoming world business trends. Actually, in this year’s Davos Forum, the panel discussions which attracted the largest number of people were those on environment and climate change. Over ten such discussions were held. In the area of energy policy, Dr. Steven Chu projected his strong presence.

From 4:15 in the afternoon, I went to attend a panel discussion, "Scaling Innovation in Foreign Aid." Panelists were Mr. Bill Gates, Dr. Paul Wolfowitz (a neoconservative in the first Bush administration and currently the President of the World Bank), Dr. William Easterly, a professor of Economics at New York University, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia (Picture 3). The facilitator was Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International (he’s always willing to ask the tough questions and is unafraid of authority. I thought he is a model journalist). I saw Dr. Tachi Yamada, who became the Executive Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health program and my friend from UCLA. Dr. Yamada introduced me to Mrs. Melinda Gates. While I was listening to this panel discussion, I thought Mr. Bill Gates was very insightful.


Picture 3 From the left, Mr. Bill Gates, Prof. Easterly, and Dr. Wolfowitz, the President of the World Bank.

Afterwards, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bono from U2, and Mr. Gates were the panelists of the discussion, "Delivering on the Promise of Africa." Ms. Sadako Ogata is always a panelist in this kind of theme panel discussions. Whenever I see Ms. Ogata, I feel proud of that she is Japanese.

In the evening, I was invited to a discussion of space project in the future. I was with my sworn friend Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society and Master of Trinity College. I had a great time there. Dr. Yoko Ishikura was present and sat next to Load Rees. I went back to the hotel with Dr. Ishikura and Ms. Tsubouchi (Picture 4).

Tomorrow morning I will leave Davos for Japan. This year Ms. Sadako Ogata and Mr. Heizo Takenaka attended many panel discussions and showed great charisma. I feel that as the world’s second strongest economy, Japan needs more people who have such an outstanding presence. I would like to thank everyone who was involved in this Forum.


Picture 4 From the right Dr. Ishikura, myself and Ms. Tsubouchi.

From Davos (2)

I was busy the whole day today. I attended a session called "Islam/South East Asia" in which my old acquaintance, Dr. Jusuf Wanandi, was one of the panelists. The panelists include those from Malaysia and The Philippines. At the same time, another panel focused on Japanese economic trends, entitled ‘Japan: Beyond the Recovery" was held (obviously I could not listened to); my associate James Kondo, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s column, was the moderator. Dr Heizo Takenaka, Dr Takatoshi Ito and Mr Kakutaro Kitashiro, Chairman of the Board of Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai-Doyu-Kai), were panelists among others. I was told Dr Takenaka concluded the session very well.

In the afternoon, I attended a session Madame Yuriko Koike, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security Affairs (Picture 1) was a panelist. Afterwards, I had a preliminary discussion with the person in charge of the panel discussion tomorrow, which I will be moderating. I also saw Shri Kamal Nath, the Minister for Commerce and Industry for the Government of India. I met him in India last November. I saw Dr Hirotaka Takeuchi, Dean of Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University and his wife. They said they hadn’t visited Davos for a few years. I met with Mr Yoishi Funabashi, a well known journalist whom I last saw almost three years ago (he had already written two columns in Asahi News and elsewhere about Davos Forum of this year…impressive!).

In the evening, there was a reception ‘Japan Night’. The Japan Water Forum hosted this reception but I thought it was a bit strange: more official bodies or corporate sector should organize this kind of gathering. The Japan Water Forum is an NPO and the president is former Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshiro Mori. This NPO is working on solving water problems around the world. Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, the Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, whom I met in Geneva when I visited the WHO last week attended the reception. Hiroshi Komiyama, the president of the University of Tokyo, Yuichiro Anzai, the President of Keio University and his wife, Haruhiko Kuroda, the President of Asian Development Bank, and Hiroyoshi Watanabe, President of JETRO were attendees of Japan among many others. The founders of Google, Mr Larry Page and Mr Sergey Brin, also showed up among many guests. I have posted a picture with Mr. Page; Mr. Brin was near us too. If you check the history of Google, you can find many interesting things. I heard Ms. Koike attended a panel discussion, ‘Military/ Asia’ that began eight o’clock that night.

From eight o’clock at Japan Night, ‘Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story’ (45 minutes movie) was screened. Everyone watched until the end and was touched by the movie. My appreciation to those individuals that came all the way from Japan for the movie.

From ten o’clock, I went to the reception by ‘McKeinsey Global’ and met Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard and few others. Today was indeed a long day was for me.


Picture 1 With Ms. Yuriko Koike, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister for National Security Affairs.


Picture 2 With Prof Heizo Takenaka.


Picture 3 With Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki and Prof Yoko Ishikura.


Picture 4 From the right, ProfHirotaka Takeuch, me, Prof Hiroshi Komiyama, Mrs. Anzai, Prof Murasawa (Special Advisor to the President of University of Tokyo), and Prof Yuichiro Anzai.


Picture 5 Mr. Larry Page, one of the founders of Google.

From Davos (1)


I have returned to Davos, Switzerland again this year.  I arrived on the evening of January 23, after climbing into a plane around noon in London to fly out to Zurich.  It’s my seventh year in a row to attend the annual conference in Davos officially known as the World Economic Forum.   I have posted on this blog what took place at past conferences in 2003, 2004 and 2006.  The scenery on the way looked a lot less wintery than in previous years, with only some patches of snow on the roads and mountains.  Other cities I’ve visited since the beginning of the year like Washington DC, Geneva and London have also been warm.

Right after arriving I completed my conference registration and checked into my hotel room.  It’s always difficult to choose which session to attend with so many interesting workshops and panels on the program.  I decided to rest and skip the evening reception held by the conference chairman, Dr. Klaus Schwab, to prepare myself for a full day tomorrow.

On January 24, I started out going around conference halls, doing the routine of shaking hands and saying, “Hey, what’s up?” as I bumped into friends and acquaintances like Dr. Lester Brown.  I met so many other people too. 

At 10 AM I attended a session under the inspiring title “Make Green Pay.” (I think the naming is very clever.)  The debate hosted by CNBC was being recorded for broadcast.  A panel debated whether a free market solution is the right way for energy and other policies amid climate change, or if there should be greater government intervention.  Members of the panel were split into Pros vs Cons.  Each person was given 5 minutes to argue over one question, then one minute to drill an opponent, and finally opened up the floor to questions.

Q1. Nuclear energy and clean coal are the only viable alternatives to oil: Yes or No
Q2. Markets are superior to regulation in leading corporations towards “greener” operations: Yes or No
Q3. A global carbon tax will do more harm than good?

Very interesting questions, and so were the panelists.  They include Dr. Daniel Esty, Director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, and Sir Nicholas Stern who is author of the “Stern Report.”  I sent an email later to Sir Nicholas whom I was supposed to see in London.  The green debate seemed to signal how the issue of climate change and global warming will be high on the agenda for world business leaders this year.  Did anyone catch the program?  It was apparently aired in Europe, North America and Asia some time between January 26 and 28. 

I met many other people during the lunch buffet too.  Dr. Heizo Takenaka says he will be at the conference this year for 4 or 5 days. It was encouraging to hear that. Also on this day, Dr. Yoko Ishikura who is my co-author of the book “Sekai-kyu no kyaria no tsukurikata (How to Build a World Class Career)” and Dr. James Kondo who is a colleague of mine at the Health Policy Institute, Japan served as moderators of panels.  Unfortunately I was unable to attend either one due to schedule conflict. 

In my next posting on this blog, I intend to put up some images from the conference.  I would like to start off here with a photo from a session with former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.  On his left is Princess Lolwah Al Faisal.  The person on the far left is three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman who is a NY Times columnist known for books like “The World is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century (2005)” and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (1999).” 


From WHO Headquarter in Geneva

As those of you who have visited this website before may know, I serve as a Commissioner of the Commission for Social Determinations of Health (CSDH) of the WHO (World Health Organization). Thus far I have visited Santiago de Chile, Cairo, Nairobi. This time the Commission was held at its headquarter in Geneva. I had planned to leave Tokyo at 9:55PM on January 16th by Air France, but I had some work to do for the Cabinet Office. Therefore, I left in the morning of 17th and missed the first day of the CSDH conference.

You can see the picture of all the Commissioners on the WHO website. It is a commemorative photo with Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General (in the center). Can you find where I am? You can also see a picture of Dr. Chan, Dr. Amartya Sen, and Sir Michael Marmot and myself on the report of "Commissioners meeting in Geneva, 17-19 January"

Dr. Amartya Sen attended this conference for the first time. When I met him in Tokyo two years ago, I asked him to come to more conferences. I’m sure you know Dr. Amartya Sen. He is one of today’s greatest contemporary philosophers. In 1998, Dr. Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. He used to be Master of Trinity College at Cambridge University and three years ago, he returned to Harvard University. I introduced him in Dokusyo Manyu, in my article "Reaching the Depth of India and Rethinking Japan," so please read it. Dr. Amartya Sen was a mentor to Kotaro Suzumura, current Vice-President of the Science Council of Japan whom I respect very much; he is a professor at Hitotsubashi University.

Dr. Sen made pointed remarks during the conference and I had a nice chat with him at the evening reception. I also found out that I have many mutual acquaintances with not only Dr Suzumura, but Dr. Hirofumi Uzawa, Dr. Masahiko Aoki, Lord Martin Rees, Dr. Monte Cassim of Asia Pacific University and others. Dr. Sen is indeed an extraordinary person.

My opinion in the conference was that social inequities occurred because of historical male-oriented societies. In any society, except for a few exceptions, half are men and half are women. Therefore, no matter if you are rich or poor, in every country and every community and civilization, people should aim for social equality between men and women. I think this is an extremely worthy goal. Many female commissioners told me that they agreed with my opinion and many women (even Commissioners!) hesitate to make such remarks in this kind of ‘official’ meetings. They thanked me for voicing it to the conference members.

As you see in the picture above, I met Dr. Margaret Chan, the new Director-General of the WHO. (I’m sorry for Dr Shigeru Omi who lost the election; He is a very good and competent man). It was a matter of political will of a nation.

Thank you so much for your hospitality, Dr Shibuya, Mr. Mochizuki, Dr Tamura from Tokai University and Dr Enami form Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. At night, I had dinner with Dr Shinozaki, former Director of Health Policy Bureau of Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and Mr. Tsuchiya, working for World Economic Forum in Geneva Headquarters: I had a really good time.

Tomorrow I have to leave for London, but the weather is quite stormy in northern Europe. I am a bit worried about my flight out tomorrow.

Okinawa, Reuters, and Interaction with Canada

As I wrote from Washington, DC, and back to Japan on 10th. On the 11th, I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon I left for Okinawa. In the evening, I had dinner with Hirokazu Nakaima, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. On the 12th, I visited the new Graduate University of Science and Technology. Hakuun sou, an old building in Onna village, is in the area where the university is planning to be built. The Hakuun-so building has been renovated and has become quite beautiful. I hope this building with additional facilities on this site will become a showcase of the university. Within this calendar year, construction of research institutes will start. In constructing such buildings, we need to consider environmental impact assessments and civil engineering work of the land.

I also visited the transitional research laboratories and had lunch with some scientists. As I reported in the last blog, "Jenelia Farm" in Washington DC, would well serve as a good model for this university. Design of the new University buildings will be great too. I am really looking forward to seeing them.

In the afternoon of that day, I gave a lecture for senior staff of Okinawa prefecture. I spoke about how Okinawa should use its strength. Although geological and historical problems exist, Okinawa can take advantage of the special information-communication and financial business zones, while working to create more. Okinawa can also use an international personal network by using ICT (I think largest number of immigrants to the United States and elsewhere are from Okinawa and Hiroshima). The Graduate University of Science and Technology will play an important role in developing human resources for the future of the world. Okinawa has produced world-class golf players. Developing and producing world-class human resources who can make the future in a mid to long-term prospective is important. In addition Okinawa is a popular clinical training place. I have introduced in this website that Okinawa is really popular for the young doctors and produces many great doctors.

Furthermore, Okinawa has the advantage of tourism resources, such as an exotic atmosphere of the tropical islands, beaches, and scuba diving spots in Kerama Islands. The annual income from tourism is 400 billion yen or almost 3.5 billion US dollars. About five-million Japanese tourists visit Okinawa in a year but only 150 thousand from overseas. Direct flights to Okinawa airport are from Manila, Taipei, Seoul, and Beijing. I heard these flights are only once a day, so I suggested advertising in the north and inland China such as Shenyang, Dalian, Beijing, Nanjing, Xian which have opposite climates from Okinawa, which will be very attractive to come throughout the year. I also recommended having two to three direct flights (even chartered at least initially) in a week to those Asian cities. I think they can start with two to three charter flights in a week. The tour in warm Okinawa will be attractive for Chinese people especially in fall and cold winter. I suggest thinking about what kind of tourists Okinawa will attract. What do you think?

January 13th was Saturday, but I had an interview with Ms. Waki from London, a Reuters journalist whom I met last year at the Davos conference. We had a nice chat about what kind of people can acquire an international way of thinking even subconsciously.

In the afternoon of 13th, I met Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar of University of Toronto. Her research discipline is geochemistry, but we had a great talk. She came to Japan as a part of "Japan-Canada Woman Scientists Exchange Program," which the Science Council of Japan and Canadian Academy started three years ago. The purpose of this program is to have seminars in high schools in each host country. (However, when Japanese scientists go to Canada, seminars can be with elementary school students because of little language barrier.) Although the visits lasted for only for one week, everyone had a great time. I heard the workshops went very well because she received great feedback and many questions from the students. I also met Dr. Kato of Ochanomizu University who visited Canada last year in the program. You can read reports by Dr. Kato and Dr. Honma on the efforts of Canadian Universities’ science education. (Japan-Canada Woman Scientists Exchange Program), who visited Canada last year. You might notice that there is something wrong with Japan’s science education for students.

In an era of globalization, I want people to go, see, and feel the world from their earlier years. I want to increase those opportunities. In the future all the world is for the young people. This is what I think is most important to put into practice.

On January 16th the "Innovation 25" committee meeting was held. On the 17th, I will leave for Geneva for the WHO HQ.

Early in the new year from Washington DC

Happy New Year! Time has passed so quickly. I have been in Washington, DC since January 6th. The daytime temperature is almost 23-5℃ here. This is unusual weather. I can see people are drinking coffee on terraces in half sleeve shirts. In winter, I’ve heard that this is the first time in the past hundred years that the temperature has reached low 20℃ in the winter in Washington, DC.

I had an opportunity to have lunch with Dr Harvey Fineberg, president of Institute of Medicine. We had a highly productive discussion about many challenging problems. That night, I accidentally received an e-mail from an official of the Gates Foundation. It was an inquiry about the "Disease Control Priority Project, 2nd edition," of which I am involved and had spoken about with Dr. Fineberg during lunch. What a coincidence!

I also had a great time with Dr. Zerhouni, director of National Institutes of Health (NIH). We had such a fruitful discussion session that we overran our schedule. Afterwards, I was able to visit Janelia Farm, to which I was really looking forward. Janelia Farm is a completely different institute with a new concept. Dr. Gerald M. Rubin, director of the institute, is a great person too. Only 30% of the whole building was built, but I could see that it has a wonderful construction. I received useful information that I could implement at the new graduate university in Okinawa, where I am working as a founding member. While I was in Washington, DC, I also visited National Association for Manufacturing (NAM).

I met Dr George Atkinson, the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of States (STAS) for an hour. I also had a great time with Ralph J. Cicerone, director of National Academy of Science and John Boright, Excective Diretor of International Affairs at the US National Academy of Science and in the meeting we covered a great number of topics. At night, I got an e-mail from Jeffrey Sachs about his visit to Japan in March for Millennium Village Project. I spoke with him as he was in New York.

Anyway, the people I met during this visit were all at the top of each of their important institutes or holding key posts. Their perspectives and ambitions are international, and I felt my level of intellectual stimulation is slightly different from when I meet Japanese people holding the same kind of posts. I imagine you have same kind of experience.

I would like to thank young staffs of Japanese embassy that made my visit truly eventful. I hope they can play an important role in the future. Each of them was really great. Please try to use your individual strengths, since overall strength cannot be brought out only by an organization.

I came back to Japan on 10th. This was a really busy but fulfilling trip.