The column "My wry Smile" is a series in Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and my story was on January 29th. The article is as follows:
●Title reads as ‘I joked that "I will open a yakitori restaurant in L.A" and a sudden visit has made me confused’
●In 1979, ten years had passed since I moved to the United States. I originally planned to stay there for two to three years. However, I liked the open atmosphere in that you could be successful if you had the ability and even if you were young. Therefore, I decided to take a chance in the States. I got a medical license in California and was also qualified as a diplomat of Internal Medicine and in 1979, I became a professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at UCLA School of Medicine. I felt I was finally recognized as an accomplished doctor and professor.
●I was invited to an international academic conference in Strasbourg, so in the summer I visited France with my wife. Four years earlier, I stayed in Paris for two months to research in Tenon Hospital, a prestigious hospital for kidney disease. I had not noticed at that time, but a yakitori restaurant (Japanese grilled-chicken restaurant) was open near the Opera, so we went there a few times.
●Many Japanese companies expanded into L.A. and sushi and eel restaurants received good business from the expatriate employees. Yakitori restaurants in Paris were much more popular to the local French people than to Japanese. Their food was great also. I spoke across the counter, a typical Japanese Yakitori style, with a cook who was working in a restaurant and who looked 12 years younger than I. He told me he had no experience as a cook in Japan, but that he just came to Paris and found a job and got trained because he thought he can make it in there. He told me that once a chicken was butchered, all of it could be eaten and there were no parts that should be wasted. I was impressed and thought that made sense.
●I told him that I didn’t see any yakitori restaurants in L.A., so I thought to own one. Of course I didn’t mean it seriously. However, in the States, even professors have to earn salary and undertake research expenses. Jobs in the States, unlike in Japan, are often unstable, so an individual might get fired at anytime. I admit that in order to eliminate my anxiety over the future, I thought that if something were to happen and I lost my job, a yakitori restaurant may not be a bad idea at all
●One year later, my house phone rang. "Professor, what happened to the yakitori restaurant?" The call was from the cook I met in Paris. "I am in New York and if you can, would you hire me?" My sense of nostalgia suddenly disappeared. He told me that he quit the restaurant in Pars and just came to the States without an apparent purpose.
●My wife accused me of making extravagant claims but I couldn’t abandon the cook. Therefore, I asked him to come and stay at our house for a month. I introduced him to a Japanese restaurant where we were regular customers.
●Since then I had not heard from him for a while, but he called me after one year. He told me "Thank you for helping me with a lot of things. Now I own my own restaurant in New Jersey and I am driving a Lincoln Continental."
●A life in which you always fear failure is boring. Whenever I meet young people gifted with remarkable talents, I encourage them to explore the world from a rather insular society like Japan. I do not think those experience will be wasted.
●However, I sometimes open my mouth without deep thinking. It is then that I regret that I may have said too much, as my comments can change a person’s life.
●One day, Dr. Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, former president of Science Council of Japan, told me that I appeared outspoken, but that in reality am quite caring and thoughtful. I was happy to hear that comment.
Furthermore in the column,
●< Lesson from the mistakes >
●Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who became the Cabinet’s Special Adviser in charge of science, technology and innovation to Abe administration, has been working on the reconstruction of the Japanese medical education for ten years. Dr. Kurokawa states that his responsibility is to develop the human resources who will lead the next generation properly.
●Dr. Kurokawa has had a bitter experience. One of my former students in University of Tokyo was an Aum Shinrikyo cult member and was responsible for a mail explosion in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. "He was an earnest and excellent student. If I had noticed that he joined a cult at the time he told me that he would quit his residency (sighs)…. I feel deeply ashamed of myself."
●(by Toshihiko Yano, Science and Technology Department, Nihon Keizai Shimbun).
Thank you Mr. Yano, you put my story together really well.
Then I got an email to my homepage from a lady who read this column. I will introduce it here:
Dear Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa: After reading the January 29th column….
Please forgive me for sending you this unexpected mail. I am reading the Nikkei newspaper one day late, because my husband brings them home everyday. This morning I read the column "My wry smile" about you before I went to work and I was moved to tears.
I just wanted to thank you for giving me this warm feeling, so I searched for your homepage and found this. Because I like L.A., I started reading this column in this newspaper, and I was encouraged by your warm personality and affection towards young people.
Ten years have passed since I opened a pharmacy as a pharmacist, and I have grown through encounters with many people, including patients. I want to grow more and more through experiences.
I didn’t know about you before I read this newspaper column (I might even have your book…I’m sorry). I will treasure this article. Thank you so much.With gratitude.
I was really glad that somebody responded to my feelings.