From Camargue, Provence in South France


I came back from Singapore on the morning of the 22nd and in the afternoon, I attended the meeting on the cardiac disease hosted by our NPO, Health Policy Institute in the auditorium at the United Nations University. I am so glad that this NPO activity is widely known. These activities show the ideal future of Japanese society.

On the 23rd, I attended the Education Rebuilding Council on university reform at the Prime Minister's office in the early morning. After the Council, I attended the meeting of Innovation 25. It was a busy day. In the evening, I gave a lecture on the innovation in the conference which was hosted by Japan Science and Technology Agency. The attaches of foreign embassies were invited. After the lecture, I left for Narita Airport. I took Air France to Paris at 9:55PM. I often take this flight; is very convenient to go to any place in Europe and because it gets to Paris at 4:30 in the morning and I can be in any main city in Europe in the morning. I can leave Tokyo after working all day and it is about 13 hours comfortable flight. I saw two movies in the plane, Casino Royale and Dream girls (Diana Ross and the Supremes are the model of this movie. These names would be good old memories for those who lived their youth in 70's.) I also met Mr. Nobuyuki Idei, the former chairman and Group CEO of Sony Corporation and the wife of Mr. Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Nissan Motors. Mr. Idei started something interesting, a consulting company called Quantum Leap. You can understand if you read his book, Waver and Determination: Record of Ten Years in SONY (in Japanese, Shincho Shinsho, December, 2006) that being the CEO of the global companies is very difficult work.

The purpose of this trip was to attend the conference hosted by Sony Computer Science Laboratoris, Inc.(CSL) held in Camargue, marshland at the mouth of River Rheine in Provence located, in southern France. Mr. Mario Tokoro, the president of CSL was on the same flight with me and I also joined Mr. Luc Steels, the director of CSL, Paris, Ms. Kaoru Yoshida and Ms. Yumiko Kitamori from Tokyo. (Please look at the CSL website.) We took TGV for three hours and had lunch with wine in the train. The land was so flat in France and green and rape blossoms were all over the land. It was so sunny, which made me feel so good.


Photo 1: From left, Mr. Makoto Tokoro, Ms. Yumiko Kitamori, and myself at the TGV station at Charles de Gaulle International Airport

Camargue is in the marshland in the mouth of River Rheine and is famous for the salt production.(Photo 2) In addition, Saintes-Maries de la Mer is at the seaside of Caramague and the church dedicated to Sara the black (Sara-la-Kari), a servant of Mary Magdalene (The Da Vinci Code) is here.(Photo 3) I remembered the French movie from 50 years ago, Crin Blan (meaning "White Mane" and I think Japanese title of this movie was "White Horse"). This was a story of a boy and an all-white horse, famous in Camarague, and I can picture the last scene with that horse running on the beach. White horses are every here and there in Saintes-Maries de la Mer and you can enjoy horse riding, too.



Photo 2: Salt mountain and myself



Photo 3: On the church roof

This time the conference was small (approximately 15 attendees) and the theme was "Sustainable Society." The conference was held in Hotel Mas de la Fouque (Photo 4). The hotel is quite attractive. Sessions are quite interesting too, especially, a lecture from an individual from the London School of Economics, who stayed in Congo and lived with isolated indigenous peoples for three years (surprisingly he took his wife and his three year old son). I felt the profound wisdom of the people living with nature from the lecture. I was impressed with his research. He has a reason as to why it was in the Congo. It is said that a research theme that no one is presently or has previously pursued is desired. I thought this is the strength of the United Kingdom.



Photo 4: The scenery around the hotel


At night, my friend, Ms. Kitano joined us and the atmosphere was delightful.

On the second day of the conference, the discussion was always ongoing. The energy-efficient houses (for example, Passive-On Project) gave me ideas.

From Singapore


On April 17th, I was invited by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) and spoke about Innovation 25. You can read the press conference in the website of the FCCJ (I think you can see the video soon, as well). In advance of the press conference, my interview was inserted in Science (April 13th issue), so I handed out the article with English translation of Innovation 25. I found the English interviews were easier than those in Japanese, because English, as a language (and any language), reflects the culture behind it, thus you do not need to carefully choose so many wordings based upon whom you are speaking. As I have been saying, if I speak in Japanese, I speak with reservation and spend so much energy choosing words that are appropriate for whom I am talking to and their social states and often cannot speak honestly and frankly to express my true feelings.

On the 19th, I went to Singapore. Singapore is one of the most rapidly growing and dynamically changing Asian nations. The purpose of this visit was to attend my first meeting as the Member of the Board of A*STAR, the center of the biotechnology policy planning on the 20th. The meeting was held in the Biopolis which was built in just 18 months. Up until now, Mr. Philip Yao was leading the scientific policy and his work had received wide attention in the world. Mr. Yao has great leadership as well as and has successfully built on an incredible list of leading scientists of the world. He has a clear vision as a political leader, is decisive, has great managerial ability and as such, the government has put strong faith in him. From now on, Mr. Lim Chuan Poh, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Education will become A*STAR’s chairman and Mr. Yao will work for new entrepreneurial businesses. Thinking creatively, working hard and quick decision-making are the hallmark of this small government of city nation (population is four million). Singapore is promoting a national policy of improving human resources development, which focuses on young people’s education and internationalization as the center focus of a long-term strategy. Efficient government and an improved social system are significant factors that make Singapore one of the most well regarded innovative countries in the world. Picture 1 is with Dr. Tachi Yamada, one of the board members (He is my friend from UCLA and is Director Global Health Initiative of the Gates Foundation, thus travels all over the world) and Dr. Yoshiaaki Ito, former professor of Kyoto University and the former Director of the Institute for Virus Research, who currently works at Biopolis. I hope many people take an active role in the world like Dr. Ito.


Picture 1: From the left, Dr.Ito, Myself and Mr. Yamada

In addition, at the National University Hospital, the opening ceremony of the Molecular Biology Clinical Institute built in commemoration of Dr. Sydney Brenner was held and I had a good time there. (Picture 2) The institute was remodeled by Mr. Ken Kornberg, an architect who was also involved in designing Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, and it was nicely done. Mr. Ken Kornberg is the son of Dr. Arthur Kornberg who won a Nobel Prize and his brother also won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. I think Mr. Kornberg is the third case in which parent and child both won Nobel Prizes. One of the cases was Madame Curie and her daughter, Dr. Joliot Curie. I think you can understand how great they are.

Now Singapore is bursting with vitality.


Picture 2: At the opening ceremony of Brenner Institute. From left Mr. Yeo, Dr. Brenner and Mr. Lim, Chairman


Picture 3: With Mr. Ken Kornberg, architect

To Okinawa, Who is the expert of email? and Chinese Translation of Innovation 25

Today (6th), I went to Okinawa and came back to Osaka in a day.

In Okinawa, I attended a groundbreaking to commemorate the start of construction of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. Dr. Sydney Brenner, president of this Institute, Mr. Hirokazu Nakaima, governor of Okinawa Prefecture and many other people were in attendance at this great ceremony. Finally, our OIST plan will be realized. I look forward to your continued support.

Mr. Ikuo Nishioka is a top talent at one of Japan’s powerful venture capital companies and an entrepreneur himself. He is writing a series column called "Ikuo Nishioka’s IT Tool Box" on the Nikkei business online website "The Latest Way of Management." In his second column "Executives Especially Need to Use Emails," he introduced how executives use emails and he even introduced me. I was very happy. Please read his column.

As you know, the English translation of Innovation 25 is on the website, and now you can read the Chinese translation. I am glad to see the translated version. In the "flat" world, sending messages to the world is crucial. The general public throughout the world will be able to evaluate what we do. This is the "flat" world. Japanese does not communicate to the world enough and effective. Is this because of our thinking? Maybe it is because of Japanese leaders who have closed minds.