From Singapore, The opening ceremony of Fusionopolis


After my visit at Seoul, I came to Singapore to participate in the opening ceremony of Fusionopolis.  Attended by many scientists in Singapore and around the world, Director Lim of A*STAR made a welcome speech.  Then, a powerful message from the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, followed by fascinating high tech holographic demonstration, musical performance by researcher group, and a reception.  I had the honor of being introduced to the Prime Minister Lee at the reception hall and talking with him.  He explained how his government is committed to making Fusionopolis a center full of energy that attracts scientists and youth around the world.  By the way, the architecture of Fusionopolis was designed by Dr. Kisho Kurokawa, a well known Japanese architect.


photo  Prime Minister Lee at the Opening.

On the next day, I attended the board meeting of A*STAR.  Then, in the evening of the day after, had dinner with Professor Ito (ref. 1 ), a very active scientist at A*STAR as well as former director of Institute for Virus Research, Kyoto University, and Mr. Kakihara, the manager of Riken Singapore office.

Anyway, I would like all of you to know how sad I am not to see Japanese researchers, especially young generations, participating in such places to mix with other researchers for training and competition as Samurais did for fencing in their era.  Shouldn’t Riken stop making excuses and send more scientists to Fusionopolis?  I dare say that Riken is just wasting their money if they don’t.  As I always say, I do not want to hear excuses for not doing.  Remember the Japanese old sayings such as "Young ones head to wilderness (Wakamono wa koya wo mezasu)" or "If you love your child, let him/her travel (Kawaii ko niwa tabio saseyo)."  They have universality and implications.

I expect everyone to do better.

“Galapagosnization (Galapagos-ka)” of Japanese manufacturers


The word "Galapagos ka (Galapagosnization)" (if you "Google" the word in Japanese, it will hit nearly 360 thousand sites) is now widely spreading.  I trust that you are aware of this word.

At last a book titled extactly it, "The Galapagosnizing Japanese manufacturers" (original title is "Galapagos-ka suru Nihon no Seizogyou") appeard from Toyo Keizai Shinpo-sya.

I urge you to read this book.  It is a helpful reference especially for the people in business.

It is often said that "Manufacturing items (Monotsukuri)" is the strength of Japan, but that only is not enough.  As I have mentioned many times in my blog.

"Story telling (Monogatari)" is very important to catch hold of people’s heart.  "Monotsukuri" is just a part of "Monogatari."  So set the goals, develop strategies and move on rapidly.  Do we find people like Morita of Sony or Soichiro Honda of Honda of the ’60s, today?  They did the "business."  Today, in this global era, speedy action is important.  Those with "domestic only" attitude had better get out of the business.  Young generation does not grow with such thinking.

People always say that "Japan is the number one country in technology" but, how much has it advanced so far in the world?  Next month the King of Spain is going to visit Japan with the rising solar panel industries of Spain.

This book has various hints as the author Dr. Tomohiko Miyazaki, Doctor of Theoretical Physics, Department of Science at Tokyo University, has provided the data based on the results of the research for Nomura Securities Co., Ltd.  After reading this book one should firmly think about ‘what he has to do’ without telling ‘excuses for not doing’ and go on carrying things out one by one.  Especially, I expect that the "leaders" and people holding responsible positions in the business enterprises take actions.  Please behave in such a way that you will be a role model for the youth.  Everyone in Japan and the world is looking at you.

This year is the 150th year of the publication of "On the Origin of Species" by Darwin.  It’s core message is "Not those who are the strongest or the wisest, but those who adapt to the environmental changes will survive." (Please refer to my speech on this site).  Speed to adapt will determine the winner.

Is Japan adapting enough to the changes of environment in today’s "globalization and flat world?"  This is a topic that also repeatedly appears in Dr. Yoko Ishikura’s blog.

From World Knowledge Forum, Seoul


Following last year I came to Seoul by the invitation of 9th World Knowledge Forum (From 14th October to 16th October).

The forum started with the address of President Roh Moo-hyun (Photo 1) and the Guest list was very special. I met Mr. Aho from Finland as well, and after hearing his speech I thought that he was a political leader there also. There was a live discussion on Television with New York on the financial crisis and creeping world recession which originated in Wall Street. Richard Branson of Virgin Airline also made stage appearance on Television.

Photo 1:  Address by South Korean President Roh, to right Mr. Ahern, former prime minister of Ireland, Mr. Aho, former president of Finland

Dr. Komiyama, president of Tokyo University also participated. He made a great impression of presence as he talked and appeared in quite a number of occasions. As you know, he is the top of “academia” in Japan. Looking from abroad, I feel that Japan’s presence is low, so we must send out information in every possible ways.

From my point of view, 80s was ‘Japan Bashing’ as it was bubble era, 90s was ‘Japan Passing’ because the bubbles burst, Internet era of 21st century started with ‘Japan Nothing’ and currently it is ‘Japan Missing’. In other words, though Japan is world’s second largest economy, it says too little about what it wants to do, does not express clear opinions even if asked, does not respond to invitations, and even if it did, fails to speak up.

Many people (It is said more than 3.000 people have participated in 3 days) from South Korea had participated but I feel even if such kind of conference is held in Japan very few people will take part in it. Why is it so? Think about it.

I was also introduced to Ms. Shinae Chun, Women’s Bureau Director of US Department of Labor. She went to America after graduating from Korean university. In Chicago she took part in social activities to organize the Asian communities. Having such background probably helped her for being appointed by Washington. Her husband also went to America after completing higher education in Korea. He is a PhD of engineering.

Photo 2:  With Ms. Chun, Women’s Bureau Director of US Department of Labor. On extreme right her husband, third person from the right Ms. Kim (mentioned below) of Appletreetales publications.

Sponsor was Maeil Business News. The evening reception was sponsored by Seoul city on 15th and by Gyeonggi Province on 16th. The mayor and governor of respective cities were present and gave the address. On 15th, a Japanese Pianist popular also by Korean TV dramas, Mr. Yuki Kumamoto, Korean violinist, Ms. Michelle Kim, active in NY Philharmonic, (Early this year, the NY Philharmonic made a historic visit to North Korea. This was supported by a Japanese lady Yoko Nagae Ceschina residing in Italy). Then a fashion show by Mr. Andre Kim on the 16th. They were enchanting.



Photo 3 to 5:  Reception (Mr.Kuramoto is little blur due to the lights from the top. Sorry.)


By the way, Dr. Ishikura and I co-authored a book “Sekaikyu kyaria no tsukurikata (How to make world class career)" and recently the Korean version of the book was published from Appletreetales. I met Ms. Okhee Kim (in the photograph), the president of the publishing company who studied at the University of Sacred Heart, and was interviewed by Ms. Chung of Maeil Business News.


Photo 6:  From right Ms. Kim, Dr. Ishikura, myself (holding the book, looking pretty in pink) and Ms. Chung.

I partcipitated in the following 3 panels.

1. Outlook: India 2009: Another Opportunity or Bubble (Photo 7)

2. Outlook: ASEAN+East Asia 2009: The New Collaborative Model

3. Future Energy

It is great that I always meet new people and see old friends here. Dr. Ishikura who participated last year was on 3 or 4 panels this year. I was in the same panel with Mr. Muhammad Lutfi, chief of Indonesia investment coordinating board (BKPM). Although he is a young person bit less than 40 years, I thought he was very brilliant. I happened to hear his lectures for about 30 minutes somewhere at some other time, but it was very impressive suggesting his talent as a great leader. I say his future is very promising.

Photo 7:  From right Mr. H Jha, one of the VPs of Tata Steel, Mr. D Johnston, Ex-director of bureau of OECD and Dr. D Bangalore from Stanford University.

“Taking Risks”: What do Young People Want to Do in the Coming Era?


A radical symposium titled "Taking Risks" was organized by Professor Shuzo Fujimura of MOT, or the Graduate School of Innovation Management at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.  I thought that it would be difficult for young people to attend an event held during the day on a weekday, but was happy to see many graduate students there.

Speakers besides myself were Mr. Kazutaka Muraguchi, a venture capitalist at Nippon Technology Venture Partners, Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama who is former chief operating officer of the Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan and author of "Kaisha wa atama kara kusaru (Companies Rot from the Top)," and Mr. Yukio Sakamoto, President of Elpida Memory.  Each of us is considered a "dissenter" in our own field.  I guess our speeches were pretty extreme.  Some Japanese blogs are describing what the symposium was like.  It was quite radical, but I think that’s just fine.

Even at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, I heard that 70 percent of graduate students want to work for large companies.  It was a bit sad that I couldn’t feel their desire to explore the world while they are young.  Is it that inward-looking man and outward-looking woman dichotomy again?

American youth seem to have a strong interest in making contributions to the world and society through programs like the "Peace Corps" or "Teasch for America"(Wikipedia).  These organizations are on the top 10 list of "Ideal Undergraduate Employers," where US undergraduates dream of working.  They are recognized as career paths that nurture leadership skills. It would be good to think about this in Japan too.

Unfortunately, the number of Japanese students studying in the US is also on the decline.

Alexandria Library, Global Health and Patient University


Bibliotheca Alexandria is said to be the oldest library in the world (B.C. 300 to 400 era).  It was an open academy which gathered various acquaintances and scholars from across the world (of those days) and made them interact with each other (What an insight to recognize it’s true value!).  Having been reconstructed six years ago, it is now rapidly growing as digital library including wonderful activities.  Nowadays, young generation is making full use of it under the excellent leadership of Mr. Ismail Serageldin.

Lectures and panels were held at the United Nations University at Aoyama on October 4th in memory of the 1st anniversary of the set up of the library’s Japanese Web site.  Dr. Helal, Minister of Higher Education and Science of Egypt, Mr. Serageldin and the Ambassador His Excellency Abdelnasser were present for the ceremony.  Since I was acting as a director, I addressed the ceremony.  Dr. Takahashi, the first director had also participated in the panel.

In the afternoon, there was a follow up meeting of the Health Systems of Global Health, proposed by Japan in the Lake Toya G8 summit.  Excellent members gathered with Mr. Keizo Takemi as the head, and we will work to shape the system’s foundation before handing it over to Italy which will be acting as the host of G8 summit to be conducted next year.

In the midcourse, there was a session called "Patient University" (the link is in Japanese) organized by our NPO, Health Policy Institute, Japan, focusing on GE HealthCare and NGOs assisting the patients.  I also expressed my greetings and talked about "Why NGO has grown?"  Such a common process will support "civil activities."  Thank you all for your hard work.

It was a long Saturday.

Ferrari California Japan Premiere


The Italian embassy in Tokyo hosted an event to introduce the new Ferrari California.

Why was I invited?  Well, I think it’s because I had a chance to speak at the "Auto Innovation" symposium the other day.  I talked about the strength of Japanese and Italian cars there.  I spoke not only about the importance of the manufacturing systems that pay attention to user satisfaction, but also about how the cars tell a story, by design, that grabs people’s hearts.  The symposium was organized by Mr. Ken Okuyama who is a well-known designer of Ferraris and other autos.  He mentioned then that he would invite me at the next opportunity.  That’s probably why I got an invitation.

The reception comes just in time for the Formula One race in Japan.  Drivers of the Ferrari team, Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) and Felipe Massa (Brazil) were also at hand. What a great promotional event.


Photo With Mr. Watanabe of METI

‘SURVIVAL’, a new TV series on global health by BBC


The British Embassy hosted a panel session and reception to introduce BBC program ‘SURVIVAL’  focusing on global health.  This is a set of eight (8) one hour documentaries on eight major global health issues, which include malaria, maternal health, child survival, HIV/tuberculosis, sleeping sickness.  The program will be on air in October thru November.  It is planned to produce a 50 minutes program edited from the set of these 8 series, which will become open to public access (guide to downloading and embeding documentary series).  The objective is to raise the public awareness on global health.  This is a collaborative project with Imperial College, Rockhopper and BBC supported by the Gates Foundation.

The evening began with a welcome opening speech by Ambassador Warren followed by 10-15 min each of 4 films.  I participated the panel moderated by Ms. Doden of NHK, a well known TV caster, with 3 women, each representing corporate (Ms. Chino of Itochu), NGO (Ms. Aoki of SHARE) and university (Prof. Ohnishi of Nagasaki University), and two ‘senior’ men (Mr. Tadashi Yamamoto of JCIE and myself) as panelists, seemingly an unusual 4:2 gender balance in Japan.  I enjoyed the film show and the panel very much.
(See photos of the event)

In the reception, two remarkable young man and woman showed up and told their own stories on Africa.  Power of Bicycle!

A man is Kohei Yamada, worked in Mali, Africa, as a member of JICA; he wrote a song ‘Love You’ in a local language a message to his friend who died of AIDS, which became number one hit in the chart.  In the reception he sang this song in local language with an African percussionist.  He continues his work on HIV/AIDS and Africa.  Visit his web site.

A woman is Mio Yamazaki, told her story with her slides of bicycling sub-Saharan Africa; while in College, she bicycled 6,000km around Japan, another 5,000km Africa.  What’s a girl she is!  She published a book on her African bicycle tour, organized NGO ‘Cow-Way’ for ‘social change by cycling’.

The youth power!  That’s what we need much more in Japan for CHANGE!

The evening was full of enthusiasm with a recognition of and sense of engagement to global health.  Thank you all for joining the evening and for the Ambassador Warren and the British Embassy to host this event.

A new business model, Intellectual Ventures


The firm that’s recently been generating a lot of talk in the United States and Japan, Intellectual Ventures, has rolled out its new office here.  On September 30 it hosted a launch reception.  The founders of this new business model are Microsoft’s former chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold, Edward Jung and others.  They established the company several years ago.  It seems to be America’s strength that there are incredibly innovative people like this at the forefront, paving the way for new opportunities.  It’s what I may call a frontier mentality.  A Google search on Intellectual Ventures will give many results, including lots of interesting blogs and articles.  Some apparently say the firm is "patent trolling."  I think their business model is really interesting.

Working with university ventures I’ve noticed that scientists and engineers are unable to see where they stand in the big picture.  And for managers, it is often difficult to clearly see what is happening in their company.  That’s why many patents end up just sitting on shelves, and organizations are unable to make use of them.

It is extremely important to identify the patents that are sitting around and match them with the emerging needs of society and companies.  The core of Mr. Myhrvold’s new business is to do this and create "inventior capital," which means adding value to inventors and patents.

I attended the opening event for the Japan branch of Intellectual Ventures on the evening of September 30.  Mr. Myhrvold is a man of multiple genius.  He went to UCLA at age 14 and studied physics.  He loves dinosaurs and apparently has made many of his own findings.  It is very impressive that Bill Gates can recruit people like this.  I also had the opportunity to meet Mr. Jung the other day.  They are both very nice and passionate about education too.

Design and Innovation


A day after my returning back from Tianjin, there was a lecture session hosted by Hakuhodo Innovation Lab (Director Awata. Link of the Lab is in Japanese).

Lecturers were myself, Dr. Komiyama, President of the University of Tokyo, and Mr. Tim Brown, President of IDEO.  Mr. Brown and I were in the same panel at Davos conference this January, and I saw him at Tianjin also.  We each had one hour to speak, so there was an ample amount of time.  Dr. Komiyama, busy as always, arrived just in time to the conference hall, made his speech on "Japan as a front runner of global challenges (Kadai Senshinkoku, Japan)" and left immediately.  It’s a pity though, that only few people raised their hands to ask questions even on this good opportunity of listening to inspiring lectures.

As for myself, I started my speech by showing a red "iPod nano" which I borrowed on the spot and, as always, talked about how "story telling (monogatari)" is important as well as "making things (monozukuri)", how "concepts"and "designs" should have diversity and surprises, importance of being involved in a project from the start, what "Melting Pot vs Salad Bowl" in this global era means, etc.

Dsc00119Photo1  Mr. Tim Brown and myself at the conference hallp>

Mr. Brown’s lecture was also very interesting.  He talked about design, process, and speed with many good specific examples, confirming and supplementing what I have said in my lecture.  Please refer to his HBR article of this year for more information.  Hakuhodo is also collaborating with IDEO.

From Tianjin, kungfu master and international star Jet Li takes action


I’m a Jet Li fan and often watch his movies on planes and television (I must admit that I haven’t been to a theater for almost ten years now).

His films move at brisk, quick-cut pace and are filled with hard-hitting excitement.  It’s hard to describe, but they’re so much fun to watch.  Lately he’s also been starring in many mainland Chinese pictures like "the Monkey King" which I’ve seen on tv.

The martial arts star has set up an NGO called "One Foundation" and is addressing problems in China and the world.

He is energetically persuading many individuals and businesses around the world to join in and get involved in charity projects to help victims of the recent Sichuan earthquake, alleviate poverty and economic disparity, and solve problems in education. He wants everyone to participate and expand it into a big movement.

In Tianjin I met One Foundation staff members.  They’re young, but passionate and bursting with energy.  When I parted with them I told them, "Say hello to my master." I am very impressed how the foundation is thinking very big.

It’s the same idea that I have repeatedly emphasized on this blog.  In this world of globalization, each person can take action based on individual ability and mutual trust.  And because this new world is connected and flattening, each action will have the power to enable and empower others (See page 5 of my opening keynote at the G8 Environment Ministers’ meeting).

Jet Li is participating in this New Champions conference too.  On September 28th, there was an interview session with him.  I found time and sat in.  At first I was a bit surprised to see that he is much smaller in person than on screen.  But his passion and ambitions are big.  He took all kinds of questions and energetically answered them one after another.  He repeatedly emphasized that "transparency and governance" are key in his projects and operations.  He said that even if he makes mistakes he wants to take one small action at a time for the world.  It was a wonderful session that communicated his great depth of feelings.  He wants to get everyone to think about what they can do and join hands to make a difference.

If everybody does a little bit, it can solve global problems of the world.