Gates Foundation, Dr. Tachi Yamada and support to Africa!


I’m sure you are all familiar with the Gates Foundation (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).  Gates, the richest man in the world, took a big step forward and established an enormous foundation (4-5 trillion yen) to eradicate AIDS, malaria and poverty in the world. This program is called the Global Health Program and last year, and it caused a big sensation when the second richest man in the world, Warren Buffet donated a tremendous amount (3-4 trillion yen) to this foundation. Gates will retire from Microsoft next year to concentrate his focus on this activity.

The first President of Global Health Program was Dr. Richard Klausner of NIH National Cancer Institute, but last year my old friend Dr. Tachi Yamada assumed office. Tachi and I have been friends for 30 years, ever since he came to UCLA in 1977, I helped him develop human resources in the gastroenterological area in Japan. A few years ago, I introduced him in a column in the Nikkei Newspaper. In 1984, the year after I returned to Japan from UCLA, he became a professor of University of Michigan and later became the Chairman of Department of Internal Medicine then turning to the Chairman of R&D of GSK, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company after its merger. He became the President of Global Health Program of Gates Foundation last June. I met him in Singapore this April.

This time, we invited him to have a session on how Japan can cooperate to support Africa. As I have written on several occasions in my blog, Japan has indeed done a lot of contribution to Africa.  It’s their PR strategy that isn’t good.

Upon Tachi’s arrival to Narita from India, we held a conference in the afternoon of August 3rd in Tokyo. I thought it was a good timing, when Japan is expected to attract a lot of attention from the world with the coming TICAD G8 summit next year. It was a very fruitful session with participants from the World Bank who is supporting TICAD with the Japanese government, JICA(Japan International Cooperation Agency), JBIC (Japan Bank For International Cooperation), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, JCIE (Japan Center for International Exchange)  President Yonekura of Sumitomo Chemical who is widely contributing to fight against malaria in Africa with their BedNet(Olyset Nets). (I have introduced him in my blog on March 13th and May 29th)

On the following day, I had lunch with Tachi and asked my friend Ken Shibusawa to join. At night, after so long, I had dinner with my wife, Tachi and our granddaughter whom Tachi met for the first time. We went to a traditional soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurant in Shiroganedai. In the past 25 years, our relationship was more business related, so it’s been a while since I had a pure private dinner with him and enjoyed every moment of it.

He said he spends half of his year overseas. Africa, India, all over the world. As for me, it counts for about 25-30%. We said to each other that we are both busy persons. Tachi stayed for another 3-days and heard that he met with a lot of key people. I left for India from the 5th.