“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.