After a meeting in Tokyo, I left Narita on November 4th, to London via Paris. The travel was to attend the final meeting of Commission on Social Determinants of Health CSDH, WHO, where I served as one of the commissioners. A report was neatly prepared by then.
Obama was elected for the next president at just about 5 am of November 5th local time, and I listened to his live speech on television at the lounge of Charles de Gaulle International Airport. Wasn’t it a wonderful message? Obviously the speech was a declaration of a strong will as the leader of America, perfectly aware of the attention that he attracted from the whole world. "Google" the related sites, English sites, of course.
The fantastic thing about this meeting is that it is hosted by the Department of Health of Great Britain. Approximately 500 people will gather from all over the world and not only the details will be broadcasted, but also the speeches and videos will be open to the public on internet. Visit the web site in to get the idea of what has been discussed and feel the atmosphere. My interview is uploaded, also. I was a bit nervous, because it was <one to one> interview and I had no clue to what the overall program was like, or who came before and after me, or what the topics were, and also there was no rehearsal or editing, and lasted for 5-6 minutes. It makes me sweat.
Photo1: Prime Minister Brown
Photo2: Minister Johnson
Photo3: Chairman Sir Marmot
The opening speech of 6th was delivered first by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and next was Minister of Department of Health, Alan Johnson. Both speeches were impressive, as political leaders of Great Britain always are. Responding to the report of this conference, the British government expressed their decision to develop specific policies and requested Professor Marmot, the Chair of WHO CSDH to organize a special committee for this objective. They are very serious about what they are doing. This is truly what I would call a government initiative. Isn’t it admirable? I envy it.
Japanese do not see the difference of the roles of bureaucrats, public officials, and politicians (I don’t know why but many of them are Niseis and Sanseis, i.e. successor of their fathers or grandfathers. Even their electoral district is descendent, which is obviously not normal. It might be that the candidates are unknown "outside their home district"). And also, English people perceive government as "Civil servants" while Japanese people see it as "Okami (people who reign)". This difference is huge. I feel embarrassed that without perceiving this basic difference in the societies of Britain and Japan, Japanese politicians, public officials, and specialists only quickly mock the system of Great Britain superficially, when problem arises and talk about "agency-nization," "privatization," "two major opposing political parties," "Thatcherism," and so on as if they are experts. Actually, they don’t really know what they are talking about.
Photo4: Chair of the conference, BBC presenter and writer John Humphyrs, and Chair of CSDH
Photo5: A panel. On the left is chair, Editor of Lancet, Dr. Richard Horton
By the way, the venue of the meeting was Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center, and the accommodation was Royal Horsegurads. They are located only a few minutes away from each other by foot. In between stands Prime Minister’s official residence Downing 10, Westminster Abbey, The houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and so on. I have been to this place early in September, too. This time, I had an opportunity to stop by at the residence of minister Nishigahiro.