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.