Japan-Arab conference at the Alexandria library


I arrived the Kansai airport from Haneda on the evening of Nov. 19th.  Then I flew to Dubai and now arrived at Alexandria, Egypt.  This was my 3rd visit to the Dubai airport in last 4 weeks.  I arrived at Alexandria on the 20th at 11:30 and headed directly to the Alexandria Library.  This about 2300 year’s old library is the world’s first scientific academy, and the magnificient buliding was reconstructed 5 years ago.  The contents have also been reinforced under the leadership of Dr. Serageldin, the library chief.  He is also my friend and has developed several excellent programs.  I am also a member of the Board of Trustees of the library for past 3 years and I visit this place for the meeting conducted in spring.

I arrived to the Library just in time.  I had an interview from 1:00 pm with Mr. Helal, the Education Minister of Science and Technology.  I have met him several times in past few years.  He is a scholar and a splendid person.  There is a considerable support from Japan.  It is delightful to hear that an opera house is being constructed recently in addition to the plans of establishing a science and technology institute with the support of Japan.  I mainly discussed about the academic exchange with Minister Helal.

Egypt01Photo1  On the library terrace

There were about 120 people from Japan and 150 people from Arab countries participated in the Japan-Arab conference.  The conference had various sessions and sub-sessions and a full discussions were conducted about a wide range of topics, such as politics, economics, science, technology, environment, health care, culture, and art, etc..  From Japan, the group was headed by honorable former MInister Mr. Taro Nakayama besides honorable former Ministers, Mr. Koji Omi, Ms. Yuriko Koike.  From the business sector Mr. Jiro Nemoto of honorary chairman of Nippon Yusen, Mr. Sadao Umeda of chairman of Kajima Corporation.  Dr. Masahisa Yamauchi, a professor of Middle East politics, Mr. Daisuke Nishimura, a foreign ministry environment personnel, and Mr. Youji Yamada, a film director who directed "The Twilight Samurai" was also present since this film was to be shown there.  I chaired the environment and water panel and went to several panels.  I was happy that several people I know had come as representatives from the Arab world.

Also I have a good time with former Ambassador Mr. Arima Tatsuo, the busy Japanese government representative on the MIddle East Affairs.  We had planed to meet up before but our timelines never matched until this time.  Needless to say that Mr. Ishikawa, an ambassador to Egypt, and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Katakura and Mr. Sudou, the former ambassadors to the embassy of Egypt, participated.  This kind of gathering of three ambassodor was extremely rare as I was told.  Also, an ambassador to Morocco, Ms. Haruko Hirose(Also introduced in the blog of Ms. Mayumi Moriyama, a member and worked as No.2 in UNIDO) had come over there.  Since she is working with the United Nations for a long time, even a minor opinion she say shows a fine taste on international relations.

Egypt02Photo2  In the Hernan Palestine Hotel.  From right, Mr. Kaoru Ishikawa, Mr.Takaya Sudo(Chairman of Research Institute of International Affairs Disarmament Center, Former Ambassador to Egypt), Dr. Masayuki Yamauchi(a professor at The University of Tokyo), Ms. Aiko Douden(NHK Commentator), myself, Mr. Numata Sadaaki(Chairman of Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, Former Ambassador to Canada), Mr. Shinsaku Sugiyama(Councilor of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Middle East Africa Bureau)

Historically, there has been little religious conflicts between the Middle East and Japan.  Since good relations are built from the past, it is a region in which mutual exchanges need to be continued.and strengthened  The basic understanding with both parties is that current exchange with Japan is solely in relation to petroleum, and Arabs are not very aware of Japan and vice versa.  It was agreed that there should be more and more exchanges in various fields.  In addition to this, it was also agreed that the contribution of Japan towards environment, clean energy and water problems was immeasurable.

A congress member, Ms. Yuriko Koike, appeared live-broadcasting on the Cairo T.V. on the night of 21st about an hour.  There was one to one interview in Arabic and the theme was about “global warming” and “CoolBiz” in fluent Arabic language which actually was quite something.  A tree plantation is going on in the deserts from past 10 years and currently there seem to be 14,000 trees now.  This year, the Cairo University is celebrating its 100th anniversary.  Ms. Koike, a graduate of Cairo University, is quite admirable that she has many friends and influential people over here.

On the afternoon of 22nd, I left Cairo.  Since I had a time at Dubai about 5 hours for transit, I had dinner with Ms. Lama Farsakh(Photo3).  She is from Palestine and her husband is from Egypt.  They have two daughters.  We mostly talked about the Israel-Palestine issues.


Photo3  With Ms. Lama Farsakh

Discussion about the sister cities /countries of Sendai city and Finland, aged society and then a much awaited active role of women in Japan


In the week of Nov 12, I had an opportunity to give speeches everyday in the week.  On 13th (Tuesday), I was at the Future Innovation Forum.  On 14th (Wednesday), I was at the Sir Martin Wood Certfication cermony in the British embassy and I gave a speech about the lifestyle related diseases on the 15th (Thursday).

The Sendai city is in collaboration with Finland.  On the 16th (Friday), a symposium was conducted by both the hosts with a theme "The Aged Society."  There seem to be several issues regarding it.  The Finnish Ambassador to Japan, the Sendai city mayor Mr. Katsuhiko Umehara (he was at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry before becoming a mayor) also addressed the symposium.  One of the deputy mayors (2 out of 3 are females), Emiko Iwasaki (She is a doctor who is seems to have been to Africa. The mayor had recruited her which is amazing), myself and a person from Finland gave a keynote speech.  In Japan we have major problems of declining birthrate and also delayed social progress of women.  But nothing has been done about it.  The women activity in Japan is in stark contrast to Finland.

In the afternoon, I headed to Tokyo for the speech "Scienctific technology and the nation" on the 50th anniversary of Asahi newspaper science department. I participated in the panel after the key speech "Out of the frying pan into the fire" given by Mr. Takashi Tachibana.

I was back to Sendai the next day.  There was an invitation from Dr. Noriko Osumi at the Tohoku University meeting "The 6th Gender equality symposium" and a male delivered a keynote speech for the first time.  The panel consisted of eminent people.  According to Mr. Tateo Arimoto ( JST, Japan science and technology agency), the Education Ministry seems to have complained when the first President of Tohoku Universty, Dr. Sawayanagi Masatarou enrolled females for the first time in the University, which was unheard before.

Tohoku University has a support program for female researchers called the Science Angels.  There was again a presentation and award ceremony of "5th Sawayanagi Award (Tohoku University Gender Equality Promotion Award)" and the 3rd award winner gave a presentation.  All of you have done a wonderful work.  I am very happy.  Congratulations.  I have presented the image of the Tohoku University at that time.  Please have a look at it.


Photo1: Award winners of the Sawayanagi award

Both the Human Development Index and the Gender Development Index are as high as entering the Top 10 (UNDP etc.) of the world.  The Gender Empowerment Index of Japan is ranked 43rd in the 75 countries of UNDP.  It stands at the 91st of 128 countries in the recent World Economic Forum.  It is a pity not to nurture the talents of women.

From Abu Dhabi-3; Dubai, and the Japanese environment technology.


On Oct. 26th, I was in Abu Dhabi and then stayed in Beijing and arrived at Narita late at night.  The following day, there was a meeting presided by Dr. Uzawa and I enjoyed this Saturday event.  The next week Monday to Friday was very busy.  Then I once again departed to Abu Dhabi in the early morning on Saturday.

This time it was a very different task. At both Abu Dhabi and Dubai about twelve Japanese companies collaborated under the leadership of Nikken Sekkei Ltd. to display and introduce the environmental techniques which are pride of Japan.  I gave a speech from the point of view of a scientist.

However, to visit Dubai Airport and Abu Dhabi twice within ten days was something I never would imagine, despite the fact that there were many coincidences that led this to happen.

After arriving in Dubai, a reception at the official residence of the consulate took place.  After staying there overnight, I went to Abu Dhabi again after a gap of "10 days."  I met the Ambassador His Excellency Hatano, some businessmen, and the Director General of INSEAD Abu Dhabi School.  I brought Japanese sweets for the students of the Japanese school as I promised at my previous visit and handed them through Mr. Yoshimura, the principal.  At night there was an excellent Japanese display of the environmental techniques and a video introduction of a proposal of new urban development.  There was also an interview with His Highness the Prince in between and after that I addressed to the gathering.  The speech given by His Highness the Prince was very earnest and made us aware that more efforts were needed for education.  A part of his thoughts now in action is to enroll the local students in the Japanese school and he seemed to be very thankful to Ambassador Hatano for sharing the same view.

The climate in Abu Dhabi in this time of the year is very pleasant. It is somewhat like Los Angeles.

Img_0884 Photo1: At the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, from left myself, His Excellency Hatano, Director General of INSEAD Abu Dhabi school Mr. Peter Jadersten, my friends Mr. Nomura, Mr. Saito

Img_0885 Photo2: At the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, myself and Mr. Saito

Img_0887 Photo3: In front of the residence of the consulate, from left Mr. Saito, Mr. Nomura, myself

Img_0888 Photo4: Having omelet rice at the terrace of the consulate residence. From left, Mr. Korenaga, myself, Ms. Yoro, His Excellency Hatano, Mr. Saito, Mr. Nomura

25% of Japan’s petroleum imports are from Abu Dhabi.  On the other hand, there is a future urban development plan called MASDAR over here which in the long run does not emit CO2 by using clean energy. It is incorporated very ambitiously.  This ambitious project was also reffered to in the speech.

※A copy of the speech
"Planet in Peril: Nation with Clear Vision as a New Global Leader of Sustainable Urban Development, Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates"

The following day, I gave another speech which was slightly different and referred to the recent ambitious project "Enpark."

I arrived at Narita at night on the 6th.

Things that should be abundoned.


So busy again this week.  I thought to myself why is it so?

I returned to Japan from the Middle East on the 6th (Tuesday).  So it is a matter of course that I was busy as it was necessary to have the normal contacts, briefings and appointments with various people from the next day.

On the 7th (Wednesday) afternoon, I had a video interview with Dr. Takeshi Yourou (will describe later).  In the evening, a speech which I agreed to do because it was related to the inauguration of "Innovation Courier."  It was great to be with Dr. Yonekura of the Hitotsubashi University.

On the 8th (Thursday) morning, I met Dr. Hisao Endo at a scheduled breakfast meeting of the NPO Health Policy Institute which I preside.  In the afternoon I met several people and discussed about work.  In the evening there was a reception of the President Council of the University of Tokyo where chancellors of more than 10 universities of China and Korea attended.  The vice minister of Ministry of Education of China was also there.  It was a great success. The chancellor of the Uiversity of Tokyo, Dr. Komiyama is a very active person who speaks and acts toward public very positively.

The next day on the 9th (Friday), I had a meeting of the President Council of the University of Tokyo.  I met Dr. Yoshino of the Harvard Business School after a long time.  I think the trend of the debate moved towards the direction I wished, but the speed is somewhat・・・.  Although I understand, it is still irritating.  In the evening was UCLA Alumni association meeting.  The Alumni members have increased under the leadership of Dr. Akada and it has become livelier.  The young people are gradually participating and preparing together.

It was raining since morning on the 10th (Saturday).  I attended the 130th anniversary of the University of Tokyo at the Yasuda auditorium. A President Council was held for this and several people from overseas participated as members. There was also a panel by Nobel Prize winners, Drs. Esaki, Ooe and Koshiba.

On 11th (Sunday), I gave a keynote speech along with Mr. Kamoshita, the minister of environment in a seminar of environment problems at the Sophia University (photo: with the minister Mr. Kamoshita and his wife).  There was a lovely harp, cello and violin performance before and after the speech which gave a great feeling.  I ended my speech with a note of Mr. Gandhi, 'the earth can meet our need, but not our greed' which received a huge applause.

Cimg3515shophiaunivnov12 Photo

This has become a habit but I was again busy this week.  I know I must make up my mind to skip or abandon something.


From Abudhabi-2 To come across historical people unexpectedly


It’s been a while from my last posting. The laptop which I normally use failed. I am trying to catch up slowly.
As mentioned in “Abudhabi-1 “, I stayed in Abu Dhabi from October 22. The Festival of Thinkers started with a opening ceremony and then there were various excellent programs.  I will  introduce to you  some related sites.
They supplement contents of this blog.

Yoko Ishikura blog (1, 2, 3)(in Japanese)
New York Social Diary (1, 2) Lots of wonderful photographs which include myself are posted.

In the opening and the morning special lecture, Ms. Maathai of Kenya who won the Nobel Peace Prize of Year 2004  gave a speech which shook everybody’s heart.
This was after winning the Nobel prize, when she visited Japan during the tenure of Prime Minister Koizumi, she was moved with the Japanese word “mottainai – wasteful" and have been spreading this word across the world.
My photograph (photograph 1) was also on the rear screen of the stage in the opening ceremony. I was happy to see this.


Photograph 1   Opening ceremony. Can you see my photograph?


Photograph 2 Site- Emirates Palace, Ambassador His Excellency. and Mrs. Hanato, Dr. Ishikura and  myself


Photograph 3 Same place. Mr. Ikenobo, Dr.Ishikura, Myself and Dr. Cassim

Dr. Ishikura, myself and   President of the Asia Pacific University APU sponsored by the Oita Ritsumeikan University Dr. Cassim  participated in the Panel related to Japan named as Theme 7  “The Rising from the Ashes-Japan special”.   The purpose and contents of this panel as it appears in the program pamphlet of the Festival of Thinkers were written by Dr. Azimi, the Director of UNITAR Hiroshima.   It was a very good writing.   She was also a Keynote speaker.

This session included greetings by Ambassador Hatano and Dr.Cassim.  Professor Sasaki gave a demonstration of flower arrangement and Mr. Ikenobo talked about the form and mind behind flower arrangement of the Ikenobo school.   Later, a panel was conducted wherein Dr.  Cassim, Dr. Azimi, Dr. Ishikura and myself participated. The blog which I have mentioned earlier includes the description of this panel.

Then, I also participated in the panel that was conducted later Theme 8 “Moving Beyond Conflicts”, check the program site for the contents.

Seated on my right side was the son of President Castro of Cuba, his name also Fidel Castro, a physicist who was educated in the former Soviet Union and a scientific advisor of the President.  I had met him around 4 years back in the United Nations University and we met again after a long period.An American panelist was seated at the left end.  In his self introduction, he said “I have a poor vision and it is inconvenient while walking, but I have a vision which is clearer than the present President of the United States of America".

After this panel was over, I discovered that this was Theodore ‘Ted’ Sorensen who wrote the main speech for late President John F Kennedy and who was also the advisor for JFK (he was only 31 years old in 1961 when  JFK became the President and he participated in the advisor committee) and was the most trusted.

He did not reveal his current status and briefly touched upon that the day before was the 45th year anniversary of the “13 th day” of the missile crisis in Cuba that continued for 13 days from 15 th October 1962,   the crisis that nearly touched the nuclear war “in the Cold War” (there is also a film named “Thirteen Days").  He has also interviews and commentary regarding the above. What do you think about him?  Isn’t he a great person?
The panel was over and during Q&A session, one person said "He is the person whom I wanted to meet the most, the advisor of JFK who saved a nuclear war which might have occurred in the Cold War, the person who wrote for JFK.  Ted Sorensen". And everybody was surprised.  Through those words, not only me but everybody felt his respect towards JFK. In the blog which I introduced earlier, articles about this panel by Ted Sorensen and Mr. Castro are given (my "Proud Moment” with the panel is also seen). It was an unexpected pleasant experience .


Photograph 4 From left, Ted Sorenseon, Fidel Castro Jr, Myself and Dr. Azimi, Director of UNITAR

At night, we again went to Ambassador Hatano’s official residence.  Then I went to a meeting of WHO conducted In Beijing via Dubai

I thank everybody in Abu Dhabi for their cooperation and help.

By the way, after a few days when I returned to my country on finishing the meeting in Beijing, Mr. Castro and Cuba Embassy Officer visited my office and met  Dr. Teruo Kishi, President of NIMS (National Institute for Material Science)  and Satoru Tomita at the Riken,  regarding the nature of Nanotech study.   This is a practice of what I always say "Science as a Foreign Policy".  It is a powerful diplomacy.

Illegal practices of scientists. Doesn’t Japan have unique issues?

→ Japanese

In recent years, the illegal practices of scientists are reported in media, newspaper – domestically as well as internationally.  Many factors could be considered as its background; such as global competition for achieving research results, sharp increase in research funds, stresses about the intellectual property or university venture, information disclosure, aspiration for honor, country’s prestige, etc..  There are just so many arguments going on such as the prevention and inspection of illegality by government, etc. that it is sometimes even disturbing.

These are not especially Japan-specific problems.  They are heard from everywhere – occasionally even cited in famous science magazines like Nature or Science.

What could be done to prevent these scandals? This is entirely the social responsibility of each scientists and scientists as a whole.  The Science Council of Japan published a book in collaboration with the Chemistry Fraternity on this problem.  I also feel concerned about the problem, and have repeatedly discussed it personally as well as through the action and messages from Science Council of Japan.

Upon the publication of the book I have written a forward, "To the people in scientific research" (in Japanese).  I appreciate it if you could spare time to read it.

I focused the discussion on the problem of social structure peculiar to Japanese society, which I have also repeatedly mentioned in my blog.  The biggest problem is surely the people who have the biggest social responsibilities.  Scandals of Association of Insurance Agencies and high government officials, illegalities of corporate executives, scandals involving politicians, etc. which repeatedly come out, all have the same composition.  It is excessively poor and the autonomous function is lacking anywhere in the organization and in the responsible people who form the organization.

Why it is so?  Even if the scapegoat is found and punished, nothing is changed.  Read this, and each one of us should think honestly and carefully about what to do and take action.

Impossible? It’s a Matter of Vision and Will to Challenge!

On July 3rd, after I returned from G8 Science Advisors meeting in beautiful Slovenia, I had a briefing in Press Center, Tokyo, with foreign correspondents on ‘Cool Earth 50’.  I thought the session went well with a lot of questions and discussions.  I received more than few e-mails from those who attended this briefing, saying it was very enjoyable because I was quite open, frank and receptive to any question, thus quite different from any previous press briefings by the Japanese government officials.  They indicated that government press briefs are not so amicable and usually provide little more than what are already on the web.  Of course, this may be the case since the government officials are extremely cautious what they say.  In addition, they have to deal with foreign press in English with the language barrier.

Mr. Von Martin Koelling reported my interview in Technology Review (in German) and I enjoyed reading his report.  Its English translation, with some editing by me, is here for you to read.  Enjoy it.

   "Impossible? It’s a Matter of  Vision and Will to Challenge!"
   Technology Review, July 10, 2007

Beijing WHO, Discussion on medical policy with Dr. Uzawa at Tokyo and blog


I arrived at Beijing from Abu Dhabi via Dubai on 24th October to participate in the conference of WHO Commission. This year’s conference was held at Geneva in January and at Vancouver in June.  We are working hard towards the release of the final report which is scheduled next year. Things being at this phase, the programs were mainly closed sessions by the Commissioners.

On 24th, Vice Minister of Health that commensurate with Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan (Photo1) hosted dinner.  The Vice Minister is a surgeon with specialization in liver transplantation etc.  I hear that even today, he sometimes does surgeries in the hospitals. Dr. Chen Zhu, my old friend, whom I have known through IAP etc. for more than 5 years, is the Minister of Health. Unfortunately, we could not meet this time.

Beijin012Photo1: Commissioner Yan Guo, Commission Chairman Sir Marmot, Vice Minister of Health and myself

26th was the final day of the conference.  Late in the afternoon, many flights from Beijing airport were cancelled due to fog.  Fortunately, my flight departed with just 1 hour delay and I reached Narita at 10:50 p.m.  However, there was neither a bus, nor a train or a taxi at that time of a day.  I couldn’t believe it!  Is this an international airport in the capital of a country of "Giant Economy"?

Next day 27th was a rainy Saturday as typhoon was approaching. I have attended the anniversary symposium of "Life and Medical Sciences" at Doshisha University organized by Dr. Hirofumi Uzawa, whom I very much respect (I have mentioned his name many times in this site, so please search it).  Dr. Uzawa wrote a prospectous of the symposium (PDF)which conveyed his great enthusiasm.  In it, he mentioned about my "University Hospital Revolution."  I was happy, honored and shy at the same time.  Not knowing so, I have arranged to give the book to all the participants so it turned out to be a good timing.

Uzawa013Photo2: With the always energetic Dr. Uzawa.

I really enjoyed talking with him.

Afterwards, the speech of both Dr. Uzawa and myself (the beggining of my speech was also used in the Lecture at Helsinki this August) was introduced in a blog (only in Japanese) very positively.  I was glad and sent comments of gratitude to the writer.