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.