From Helsinki


When it comes to Finland, I remember my friend Mr. Aho. He was the President when USSR dissolution took place in 1991 and the country was in its worst condition. In the springtime this year,  I received a sudden unexpected phone call from him saying that he wanted me to participate in the annual conference of SITRA where he is acting as President. I accepted the invitation with pleasure. He is one of the leaders in the world, whom I have seen also at a conference at St. Petersburg in June. I came to Helsinki this time for the SITRA conference. Helsinki001

Photo1 The garden in front of hotel

My visit to Helsinki is after more than 10 years, since the conference of International Union of Physiological Sciences. At that time, Mr. Miyagawa was the ambassador of Finland and Mr. Matsuda was the ambassador of Denmark. I remember this because I have visited them after receiving their invitation.  When I was working at UCLA, both of them were Consulate Generals of Los Angeles so I was quite acquainted with them. Helsinki is a beautiful calm town. There are big rocks around here. The population of Helsinki inner city is 5, 00,000 and one million including suburb. In the evening of the day I arrived, His Excellency Ambassador Honda invited me for a dinner with first secretary Mr. Sakamoto at his residence.

Next day I visited the University of Art and Design Helsinki and The Theatre Academy (photo3),  where subjects such as art, design, drama are being taught, with Mr. Teppo Turkki (photo2) .  Mr. Turkki has come to Tokyo in June with his family (his wife and two children. Mrs. Turkki is a professional ballet dancer and she seems to be busy in creative dance show along with her studies in the ethnic backgrounds) for one month to participate in the workshop of "Global Innovation Ecosystem" that was introduced in the Blog of June 29. The people in Finland are fond of activities such as design, drama and it seems to be a very important part of their life. They are very popular. I am told that tuition fees are exempted in the colleges, even for the International students. Isn’t it a nice environment?  There are students from Japan, China, and South Korea also.


Photo2 With Mr. Turkki


Photo3 With the President of academy  (Of course, poster behind was our topic.)

Mr. Turkki posts several reports on his visit to Japan to SITRA Website. Unfortunately, the current reports are still in Finnish, so I cannot read it. I have requested to convert them into English so that I can read them. He also wrote a book about Japanese culture such as latest magazine “Cool” but this is in Finnish, too.

In the late afternoon, we had a discussion about the next day’s conference. It’s theme this time is “Issues with Asia: India, China, Japan” and speakers are Dr. Ramasami (Secretary to the Government, Department of Science and Technology), Dr. Jun Yu(Beijing Genomics Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences)and myself.

In the evening, we had a very delightful dinner watching the sunset at a restaurant on an island that was at the distance of approximately 5 minutes by ship. (Photo 4 – 6). Boiled "Crayfish" which was approximate 10 centimeters in size were served, Mr. Aho taught me the way to handle it and so I was able to eat 8 of them by “cutting it into pieces”.
Dr. Erkki Ormala (Vice President of Technology Policy) of Nokia was also with us. In the business world of cell phones, Nokia holds 38% of the share while Motorola 14%, Samsung 13% and Sony-Ericson 11% respectively, and Japanese manufacturers having just one digit share even if 10 companies are combined. In addition, calling rate is the highest in Japan. Can you see where the problem is? Really one should think about it.


Photo4 With Mr. Aho at the restaurant


Photo5 and 6 The view and the twilight from the restaurant


Next day in the morning, I was taken to sightseeing in Helsinki (Photo7 -10). At the conference that started in the afternoon, I talked for 30 minutes first and then heard lectures of other two persons. Due to the departure time of my airplane, I was not able to hear the next panel and I went to the airport for my return journey. I think that everyone enjoyed my lecture.
Contents of the meeting can be seen on the website of SITRA. It is already posted on the  web cast, isn’t it fast? Here, you can feel the impact of information era. Whether you use it or not determines your success. This is my message to you.


Photo7 In front of the statue of Nurmi, best-known long distance runner (He is the legend runner who received 9 gold and 3 silver medals in Olympic long distance)


Photo8 Sibelius statue and monument


Photo9 At the Rock Church


Photo10 In front of the cathedral at the plaza of the town central

Next morning I arrived at Haneda via Kansai airport and in the afternoon, participated in the hearing of "World Premier International Research Center (WPI) Initiative" organized by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. In the evening, there was a dinner at the German embassy with Ms. Merkel who was visiting Japan. The hearing of WPI will continue tomorrow.