Am I afterall ‘Henjin (out-of-box)’, ‘a breaker of stereotype of Japan’?


In the morning of September 19th at Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center, I delivered a keynote speech at ‘BioJapan 2007-World Business Forum.’  The first speaker was Dr. Maraganore, CEO of Alanylam Pharmaceuticals (I met him about 3 years ago), the title of his speech was ‘Progress in development of a new class of innovative medicines.’  Next speaker was from Denmark, Mr. Riisgaard, Novozymes CEO, who talked on ‘Bioethanol-A sustainable contribution to the future energy supply’ and then I spoke under the title of ‘Innovation in Biotechnology: where is it headed to?’

People from OECD were also there and I had dinner with five of them at the night before.  I knew two of them from long time ago.  It’s a small world, isn’t it?

By the way, the latest Newsweek Japanese edition (September 19, 2007) is published with its cover story, ‘A Confession of Foreign Correspondent in Tokyo.’  Mr. David McNeill wrote an article, ‘I want to tell about Japan as it truly is.’  Mr. McNeill is an English correspondent of ‘The Independent’ at Tokyo but also writes for several other newspapers around the world.  He is also the coordinator of ‘Japan Focus.’

Under the subtitle of the article, ‘Although Japanese officials prefer stories of exotic Japan,’ I found a statement as below.

“・・・I also like to find and introduce such individuals who breaks the stereotype of Japan as a huge machine and that Japanese people are working there like honeybees without faces.  There are many original and talented individuals in Japan such as Kenji Kawakami who presides ‘the Society of Chindogu (a unique instrument)’;  Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a special advisor to the cabinet; Jun Takahashi, a designer;  Kazue Mizushima, a composer;  Eitetsu Hayashi, solo Taiko drummer, and so on.  I feel very lucky that I am paid for writing about their works in articles.”

Am I different from average Japanese after all?  It doesn’t particularly bother me, rather flattered to be seen so ‘properly.’

At the night, I had dinner with some British people involved in health policy and from media such as ‘the Independent.’