Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize and a speech by former Prime Minister Mr. Junichiro Koizumi


In the blog of June 19 (“A few words about the low plublicity of Japan, from Paris”), I have quoted three cases as an actual example but all these three were about the large contribution of Japan in Africa. The contribution of Japan in Africa is not much recognized domestically or internationally as compared to its contribution in Asia. This may be due to geographical conditions. As I have mentioned in the above column, my article “Challenges for Japan’s Scientific Community in the 2008 G8 Summit” appeared in Business Daily Africa, one of the newspapers in Kenya, as “Analysis: G8 Summit will provide a major test for Japanese scientists”, “Comment: Challenges for Japan’s Scientific Community in the 2008 G8 Summit”. It is only at individual level but I want the world to know a little about the contribution made by Japan. World today is On-Line age, isn’t it?

After 8 years, Japan is hosting the next year’s G8 summit (which will be held at Toya Lake in July).  Japan is going to play a leading role, and the fourth meeting of  TICAD(Tokyo International Conference on African Development)(Ref. www.ticad-csf.net/eng/index.htm), a groundbreaking national  undertaking  that was started with the United Nations 15 years ago as a part of  aid to Africa, which is held once in every 5 years, will be held in Yokohama in May. This conference is well recognized by various countries in Africa and the heads of more than 50 countries from Africa will gather in Tokyo for this conference.  However, how many people in the world know about it? Recently, the media is only concentrating on the topic of China reaching to Africa…….

Last year, Prime Minister Koizumi visited Africa.  He had been to Ethiopia and Ghana on this visit. Why Ethiopia and Ghana will be discussed later.  Accra, the capital of Ghana, is the place where Dr. Hideyo Noguchi passed away due to the yellow fever and there is Hideyo Noguchi Memorial Institute.  At this institute, Prime Minister Koizumi has declared the foundation of “Hideyo Noguchi Africa prize” by the government of Japan. This is an international award that acknowledges medical research and medical services that contribute to control the infectious disease in Africa. It will be given to an individual who has contributed in these two fields (It is introduced on Internet TV of the government also). The Awarding ceremony will be held once in every 5 years and we are planning to announce the first prize next year at TICAD. Currently, the selection is in process. As you know, issues like development in Africa, HIV/AIDS, poverty etc. are the serious problems of the world.

The other day, Mr. Koizumi, former prime minister went to the board meeting of "Japan Federation of Economic Organizations" to address the board for the fund-raising of this award. I heard that his speech was excellent. It was a short speech without any note, addressing about 200 business leaders including Chairman Mr. Mitarai. I heard that the atmosphere in that hall has changed dramatically after the speech. Please download and see the file, since the content of the speech is posted with the permission of former prime ministers’ office.

Down load the (PDF) “Introduction by Junichiro Koizumi, Member of Parliament, in standing committee meeting of Japan Federation of Economic Organization" (In Japanese only)

How do you feel about it?  Isn’t it really an excellent speech? I think it was a very lively speech full of wit. I am thinking of translating this speech into English and transmitting it to the media in Africa.
If you think carefully, we can certainly say that the business people got hypnotized by “Koizumi magic”. This means Prime Minister Koizumi is very genius and “out of the box”. Actually, from the historical viewpoint, people who changed the world and the society through science and technology were all ”out of the box” , having imagination beyond the common sense of the people in that era. I have also mentioned this once in front of Prime Minister Mr. Koizumi at the meeting of Council for Science and Technology Policy that was held at his official residence. Everyone started laughing but I was quiet serious.

It is the same opinion as in the blog of June 4 ("St Petersburg, then from Mr. Deguchi to Don Quixote") as well as in the mail magazine of Mr. Deguchi  (in Japanese only)that “Don Quixote" is very important in all-times.

Gender empowerment still has long way to go. Why? – Advanced Technology Award ceremony and “Race for the Exits (Japanese title “The Struggle of Japan, ‘the last nation of socialism’ ”)


  On July 4th, I had an opportunity to present a 20 minute keynote speech at the Advanced Technology Award ceremony. Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado whom I have met in Okinawa recently was also present. The summary of my speech was posted as below on the morning edition of “Fuji Sankei Business i” the following day.

Keynote speech by Dr. Kurokawa:

●Let me focus my speech on a certain part of “Innovation 25” (note: this is a long term strategic government policy towards the society in 2025 which was put together by Dr.Kurokawa as the chair person). Considering on the basis of the framework of “Innovation 25”, I am disappointed with today’s award.  In the student’s category only two out of nine winners are women, and in the corporate category only one out of twenty five.  In the 21-year history of this award, only one non- Japanese was awarded. This is extremely abnormal. I urge you to be aware that this is not the type of the world that will continue to exist in the future. Here lies the message from the “Innovation”.

●Since the “development of steam engine”, there were 5 major waves of evolution in the paradigm of industry, economy and society. Now we are in a very mature stage of a paradigm which began since the mass production of automobiles in 1908; “oil, automobile, mass production of standardized products and culture of consuming goods away”.  Since 1971 when Intel developed micro processor, information society became an infrastructure and then the internet, Netscape, Linux and Google emerged. People who make the changes are people like you award winners who have the passion and tenacity to dedicate yourself in research, and take actions.

●The world will become united by internet. In the past, research and mass production (within a company) was connected in a straight line, but that does not lead to devastating innovation. What is important in future innovation is heterogeneity, diversity and adaptiveness. I made a candid advice in the beginning my speech based on a diversity point of view.

●A rival could arrive from anywhere in the world. Strengths can be further extended through competition, but to overcome weaknesses, you need a strategy to collaborate with the strong ones. Therefore I urge you to make friends all over the world and experience what is occurring in the world in issues like energy, environment, natural resources, North-South issues etc. and exert your entrepreneur spirit to solve these problems. Based upon that, consider what kind of country Japan should be or how your company wants to be.

In fact, out of the five 2006 award winners in the students’ category, there were no women. In the corporate reasearch category, only 1 out of 20 was woman. The only woman who won this award in 2006 students’ category was the first foreigner ever, so when you come to think about it, you can understand how Japan is closed-door minded. What do you think about it?

Recently, I found an interesting book based on this point. It’s called “Race for the exits “The Unraveling of Japan’s System of Social Protection””(March 2007, Mainichi Newspapers) written by Leonard Schoppa, an American who spent his childhood in Japan for 15 years. He knows Japan very well and has authored several books. The data used are precise and I think his observation and interpretation are to the point.

Japanese women’s participation in the society, as you can see in UNDP Gender Development Index (voting right, education opportunity and college going rate etc.) is ranked 8th in the world which is something great, but Gender Empowerment Index goes down to 43rd. This gap shows that women are losing the opportunity to play an active role in the society which apparently is a waste of human resource. For Japan to gain its vitality depends largely on whether they can fully utilize women’s power and ability. It is no small issue.  I have mentioned about this several times in the past, so please look up the keyword “gender equality”.

Unlike the “Feminism” act in the past, women became liberated compared to the old days with the introduction of elderly care system. As the appearance of “Parasite single”, who manage to live independently show, there are more choices for women to stay single and be free from the burden of having a husband. They don’t have to get married if they chose not to, can go abroad freely and choose not to get involved in bearing and upbringing children thinking it as a burden. (A while ago, it was thought to be ideal for Japanese women to get married, but how about now? This may be a stereotype value of a male centered society…) As a result, drop in birth rate is inevitable and gender equality becomes only a slogan, losing its impact on political reformation. As he points out, these are the backgrounds of the lumbering reforms. Never a truer word! The English title of this book is “Race for The Exits”.

Furthermore, excellent global companies are free to choose to go abroad to escape Japan where too many regulations and high energy cost impose burdens.  You can say that what remains then is a miserable society where people and companies stay because they have no choice. This is the scary part of global era.


By the way, regarding women’s leadership, there was an interesting article in Foreign Affairs, May/June issue. As I introduced in my blog on 2007/3/3 and 2006/1/28, out of the 8 US Ivy League universities, 4 of them, Harvard, Princeton, Penn and Brown now have women Presidents. On the other hand, in Japanese national universities for example, out of the 87 national universities, only Ochanomizu University (a women’s university) has a woman President. Also in this article, the author points out that while the number of women leaders in the political world is still limited, more than half of the world’s NPO organization are headed by women. The author then goes on to write about its meaning and impact on politics, so this article is quite interesting. I wanted to introduce this just for your reference.