from Davos, Part4 (The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008)


Attached here (photo 1), you’ll see the view from my hotel window this morning. The sharp edged mountain in the middle at the far back is Tinzenhorn, looking rather similar to Matterhorn.

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Here I am at the last day of the annual meeting. The Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda arrived this morning to join the prominent others such as William Gates, Microsoft Corporation, USA; Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1997-2007), Bono the famous musician, and so forth. Fukuda’s plenary speech began at 1130 am in the main hall, co-hosted by professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, and Tony Blair. 

Myself sat in the very front row, together with Bono and his team. Our Prime Minister appeared understandably nervous, which made him talk a little faster than he had probably planned (photo 2). I was listening the simultaneous interpretation, one in English ? as is often the case, the interpreter appeared to be relying on the translated document in hand with some lapsed delivery rather than being simultaneous. The content of the speech was quality I thought though it had the room to be refined as a politician’s speech.

Both Tony Blair and Klaus Schwab asked several questions at him (photo 3). It was broadcasted on NHK so my friends emailed. I wonder what you have made of today’s event ? any reflections?


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Prior to the speech made by our Prime Minister, the main hall held a plenary seminar on the world economy, fully packed. The panel included Laurence Sommers, the former Treasury Secretary during the Clinton era, who is an extremely talented economist though also known for jeopardising his career as the President at Harvard University through failing to accord his public comment to the gender-equal matter. Anyhow, the economic outlook projected was bleak. The theme of this seminar spilled onto the session with our Prime Minister whereby he was asked a question on the world economic trend. It was felt that his response could have better embraced the mood of the speaker panel though I must say the support team was perhaps already operating at the capacity more than expected. I must acknowledge that facilitating the Japanese Prime Minister to join the forum is already a remarkable achievement; the last was with then the Prime Minister Mori several years ago. I’d like to pay respect and send my warm regards both to the Prime Minister Fukuda and the support team, and in fact also wish all the best for affirmed efforts around the TICAD and G8 in coming May and July respectively, ultimately for all people concerned including the general public in Japan.

After the forum, our Prime Minister joined a luncheon with the various business leaders. Having dealt with interviews for CNN, and so forth, he was quickly on his return home.   


photo 4: with Mr Okuda of Toyota

photo 5: from left ? Mr Ujiie of Nomura Holdings, Mr & Ms Shibata of NGK Insulators, Mr Okuda, myself, and Mr Takenaka


photo 6: me working hard at the conference!

My evening began at the ‘Tokyo reception’ at a hotel. The Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara was unable to join thus the Vice Governor Naoki Inose replaced his place as the host. Then, the official Forum closing evening began with the concert, featuring the world reknowned violinist Ms Akiko Suwanai ? Bruch’s ‘Concert No. 1’, – the second piece was Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. It was the first time for me to hear this latter piece right through to the end. Suwanai san, it was truly wonderful.

It confirms my view that it tends to be women rather than men who tend to be ones radiant at the world stage among the Japanese. At an individual or personal level, the presence of Japanese female tends to be more defined compared to what Japanese male in general is able to exercise. At the back of my mind here is the strong tendency of Japanese men to acquire the viable self through organisational affiliations. As always indeed, the radiant Japanese face of the Davos Forum was our honourable Madame Sadako Ogata. Soiree followed the concert ? this year, it featured Turkey with Turkish cuisine, which we enjoy very much.

photo 7: Mr Idei, formerly of SONY, Mr & Ms Takeuchi of Hitotsubashi University Business School, Professor Schwab


photo 8: Mr Idei、Mr & Ms Takeuchi, Professor John Maeda of MIT

Professor Maeda holds a place at MIT, and is a prominent professor at MIT’s famous Media Lab, though he is apparently venturing out to take up a presidency at Rhode Island School of Design from June. I do like that spirit. We much need a persona like him in the Japanese academia ? to stimulate the research, and initiatives of universities, students, and young people in general. As I always say, among the crucial social resources is ‘Kojin Ryoku’ or indivisual power and uniqueness, a creative synthesis of the self exercised at the personal level.