The Post-American World


Fareed Zakaria (born in 1964) is a young, aggressive journalist – most active and "hot" in the world today.  Besides being an editor of Newsweek International Edition he runs his own web site.

In 2008 Zakaria published a book titled "Post-American World".  The book is very interesting – with rich, inspiring contents.  Apparently Zakaria has wonderful lucidity, exceptionally good writing ability, great vision and broad views.  This is without doubt one of the books that I would like to recommend to all – especially to young people.

The book consists of following contents (The English translation of the titles in Japanese edition are given within the parenthesis for your reference);

1. The Rise of the Rest (The Rise of "All Nations Except America")
2. The Cup Runneth Over (Power is Shifting in a Global Scale)
3. A Non-Western World? (A New World Where "Non-Western" and "Western" World Mix)
4. The Challenger (China Heads Toward "Asymmetrical Superpower")
5. The Ally (India – A Nation Burdened with Destiny of Democracy)
6. American Power (Will America Keep on Falling?)
7. American Purpose (Can America Globalize Herself?)

The book not only introduces a view of the world that holds America and China as the center of policy and economy but naturally, as Zakaria was born and brought up in India until age of 18, also takes into account the medium-long perspective and challenges of India that makes this book even more interesting, offering a slightly different point of view compared to other books under this kind of a theme.

"The Post-American World" is a world where America ceases to be the only superpower and "The Rise of the Rest" takes place.  In that respect, China and India will have exceptionally strong impact in the world because of their large population although their tremendous growth will inevitably be accompanied by countless challenges.  His insight here is quite something.

Zakaria studied at distinguished schools in Dubai, continued education at Yale University, earned his PhD in Politics at Harvard.  At an astonishingly young age of 27, he was appointed to the chief editor of Foreign Affairs (a publication of Council of Foreign Affairs), and from 2000 to date is working for Newsweek.

His view of America as a "Big Island Country" matches with my view; I also talk about it in lectures and other occasions.  In the last part of chapter 2 Zakaria writes (p.47-48);

"American politicians constantly and promiscuously demand, label, sanction, and condemn whole countries for myriad failings.  Over the last fifteen years, the United States has placed sanctions on half the world’s population.  We are the only country in the world to issue annual report cards on every other country’s behavior.  Washington, D.C., has become a bubble, smug and out of touch with the world outside."

"The 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey (Pew Research Center; one of the nonpartisan think tank of America = footnote) showed a remarkable increase worldwide in positive views about free trade, marets, and democracy.  Large majorities in countries from China and Germany to Bangladesh and Nigeria said that growing trade ties between countries were good.  Of the forty-seven countries polled, however, the one that came in dead last in terms of support for free trade was the United States.  In the five years the survey has been done, no country has seen as great a drop-off as the United States."

"Or take a look at the attitudes toward foreign companies.  When asked whether they had a positive impact, a surprisingly large number of people in countries like Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Bangladesh said yes.  Those countries have typically been suspicious of Western multinationals.  (South Asia’s unease has some basis;  after all, it was initially colonized by a multinational corporation, the British East India Company.)  And yet, 73 percent in India, 75 percent in Bangladesh, 70 percent in Brazil, and 82 percent in Nigeria now have positive views of these companies.  The figure for America, in contrast, is 45 percent, which places us in the bottom five.  We want the world to accept American companies with open arms, but when they come here ? that’s a different matter."

"Attitudes on immigration represent an even larger reversal.  On an issue where the United States has been the model for the world, the country has regressed toward an angry defensive couch.  Where we once wanted to pioneer every new technology, we now look at innovation fearfully, wondering how it will change things."

"The irony is that the rise of the rest is a consequence of American ideas and actions.  For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology.  We have urged peoples in distant lands to take up the challenge of competing in the global economy, freeing up their currencies, and developing new industries.  We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success.  And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism."

"But now we are becoming suspicious of the very things we have long celebrated ? free markets, trade, immigration, and technological change.  And all this is happening when the tide is going our way.  Just as the world is opening up, America is closing down."

"Generations from now, when historians write about these times, they might note that, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, the United States succeeded in its great and historic mission ? it globalized the world.  But along the way, they might write, it forgot to globalize itself."

Footnote: Recently the Center supported a research related to international arguments on whaling and I participated in some of its meetings.  This April, the Center produced "A Roadmap for US-China Cooperation on Energy and Climate Change" in collaboration with Asia Society.

Zakaria also points out that the best industry of America is "University Education". 
His early education was in "Asian" method ・・・in which the premium is placed on memorization and constant testing・・・I recall memorizing vast quantities of material, regurgitating it for exams, and then promptly forgetting it."

"When I went to college in the United States, I encountered a different world.  While the American system is to lax on rigor and memorization… is much better at developing the critical faculties of the mind, which is what you need to succeed in life.  Other educational systems teach you to take tests; the American system teaches you to think." (p.193)

"Tharman Shanmugaratnam, until recently Singapore’s minister of education, explains the difference between his country’s system and America’s.  "We both have meritocracies," Shanmugaratnam says.  "Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy.  We know how to train people to take exams.  You know how to use people’s talents to the fullest.  Both are important, but there are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well – like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition.  Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority・・・." (p.193,194)

I think this argument is persuasive since America’s higher education contributed much to Dr. Zakaria’s success in becoming a world class opinion leader at such an surprisingly young age.  Compare this with Japanese higher education and think very hard, please.

Zakaria says, however, that "America remains by far the most attractive destination for students・・・All these advantages will not be erased easily, because the structure of European and Japanese universitiesp―mostly state-run bureaucracies―is unlikely to change."  He also points out that "・・・while China and India are opening new institutions, it is not that easy to create a world-class university out of whole cloth in a few decades." (p.191)

Keynes and Schumpeter



Lehman Shock (September, 2008) that started from Wall Street has triggered financial crisis and doldrums of economy in a global scale which still seems to be far from ending.  Each nation crafted stimulus packages and put them into action that now the picture looks more like policy competition in a broad sense.

Here is where Keynes, and Schumpeter who set "Innovation" at the center of economics attract attention.  Schumpeter seemed to have been a strong opponent of Keynes.  Why is it then that these two "contradicting" economists are both necessary?

Recently a book on these two giants of economics in the early 20th century was published; "Now is the time to learn from Keynes and Schumpeter (Imakoso Keynes to Schumpeter ni manabe)" by Dr. Hiroshi Yoshikawa.  This is a very stimulating book.  Dr. Yoshikawa has written this book based on strict verifications and inspections – which is his style.  The content is even entertaining – not written for economists – so it was fairly understandable even for a person like myself.

These two giants, Keynes and Schumpeter, were born in 1883 with just 4 months’ difference; in Cambridge, Great Britain and Vienna, Austria (Moravia, Kingdom of Hungary・・・ current eastern Czech Republic), and the year they died were only 4 years apart (Keynes in 1946, two years after Bretton Woods Agreements and Schumpeter in 1950.)  I recommend "Currency in Flame (Tsuka Moyu/the URL is in Japanese)" by Tomohiko Taniguchi on this topic.  It gives you good understanding of the age and place they lived, the background of their upbringing, education they had, relations with their mentors, and so on.

The book is a good reference with inspiring, rich content on policymaking which could be useful to Japan today.

There were many places that I found especially interesting and below are just few of the examples:

1. "・・・what are the motives for the enterprise operators (footnote) to go into new joints?  By no means they seek after financial benefits or money.  Schumpeter declares・・・and even goes on further to say "If this sort of desire appears it indicates not stagnation of their conventional activities but decline, not fulfillment of their missions but sign of their mortal deaths."  ・・・Schumpeter very clearly writes about typological classifications of industrial people・・・" (p.56,57)

Footnote: I telephoned Dr. Yoshikawa about difference between "enterprise operators" and "entrepreneurs".  He said that economists do not use the term "entrepreneurs" but instead "enterprise operators".  However, he added, "entrepreneurs" might be better understood by average readers.  So, please feel free to understand the term "enterprise operators, business operators" as "entrepreneurs".

2. "The business people as defined by Schumpeter – the heros/heroines that make capitalism the capitalism as is meant to be – are people born with special talents that are not bestowed to ordinary people.  Innovation is by no means created solely from rational calculations.  Rather, it is created only by business people who have irresistible impulse or ‘talents’ as I put it, that make them yearn for innovation.

Here, The Birth of Tragedy(1872), maiden work by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche(1844-1900) comes to my mind.  Nietzsche discussed the history of classic Greek tragedies by using two opposing ideas of ‘Apollonian’ and ‘Dionysian’.  Apollo, the god of Sun gives clear figure to everything through its light.  Intellect/reasoning is thus Apollonian.  On the other hand the essence of Dionysus, god of wine, is frenzy/intoxication.  ‘Business operator spirit’ defined by Schumpeter is clearly Dionysian just as ‘Animal spirits’ in Keynes is." (p.227, 228)

About economy and decline in population

3. "Keynes discussed relations between decline in population and economy in a very scholarly way as economist – as this is very much his style.  On the contrary, words by Schumpeter are by far "discussions on civilizations"". (p.210)


4. "But eventually, as capitalism develops, business operators as plain human beings start transformation to ‘ordinary people’ that maximize ‘benefit’ of self.  What happens at the point of maximization of individuals’ benefit?  The moment people start rationally calculating the cost of bearing a child and raising it, decline in population will begin.  Schumpeter counts decline in population as one of the signs of decay in the spirit of business operation." (p.229-230)

How did these two giants of economics perceive of each other?  This is another very interesting human drama.

I strongly recommend this book to you.  It is "Onko Chishin (to learn new lessons by studying the past)."
Also, "Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism" by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller was published recently.  After reading this book, here are some of my thoughts about policy makings of Japan during these 6 months.

Speed is of course important but it does not justify pumping in tax payers’ money into society easily without inspection saying this is "once in 100 years" crisis (Greenspan, former chairman of FRB).  Sometimes it is forced by political dynamics but if you look into supplementary budgets, for instance, the budgets are almost scattering about of money with bureaucratic sectionalism.  I must say that people lack leadership; policy makers, industries, academics, and scientists… all of them.

If it is "once in 100 years", although doubt remains, clear vision and policies must be introduced for the major changes that need to take place several years from now.  And we don’t have them.  I have been pointing this out repeatedly in my blog and many other places. (Ref: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  *3,4,5,6 are in Japanese.)

Is the industrial framework OK as it is?  Can we expect "Innovators" to emerge in current industries?

What we need in society, in any place of the society, are "Innovators".  In other words, "Nails that stick out", "People with spirit of enterprise" ・・・.  These kinds of people are strongly needed at time like this.

The Open at Turnberry


Ryo Ishikawa played along with Tiger Woods in the first two days of the 138th British Open (The Open) at Turnberry (The Open started in 1860, just before the Meiji Restoration), so I assume that many of you watched the game on television until late at night.  Unfortunately both players did not pass preliminary.  Looks like Tiger was not in tune this time.

This year’s Open was held at the prestigious Turnberry.  This is the 4th time that Turnberry hosted The Open. The white lighthouse standing nearby holes 9 and 10 is the symbol mark of this links.  Tom Watson who performed wonderfully this year won over Jack Nicklaus after a heated match at Masters in 1977, and also pulled off his 2nd victory at The Open.

The Open at Turnberry last time was in 1994 and the winner was Nick Price.

By the way, I once played golf in Turnberry, too.  And amazingly enough it was in July 1994, just one week before The Open.

When I left the hotel at Glasgow in the morning with my friend, although it was July, the weather was cold, windy and raining heavily.  We put on thick sweaters.  I asked the driver "Is it possible to play golf today?" and he replied "This is exactly the weather for golf."  But as we went on for about an hour, to our delight, the weather turned out to be fine by the time we arrived the links.

The course was tough just as you have seen on television, grasses in roughs, etc.- very challenging in many ways.  I don’t even remember how many shots I’ve made.  Many lost balls, too.  I watched The Open on TV news (not live, as I recall) after I returned to Japan.

Wasn’t Tom Watson wonderful this time?  It was a pity about the play-off.  Of course, it would have been a historical record had he won the major championship at the age of nearly 60 years old.  And pulling off victories 6 times at The Open would have been a tie-record (in numbers) to Harry Vardon, the hero of 19-20 century.

My favorite brand COED beer


As in the saying "a grain of pepper may be tiny but it still is sharp on the tongue," COEDO Beer is a "tiny but sharp" and stunningly "cool" brand.

COED means "little Edo."  Yes, it’s Kawagoe in Saitama prefecture.  COED beer is manufactured in Kawagoe.

Take their website for instance – you will be impressed by its classy design.  A soothing, slow flow of time is in the atmosphere.  Good English site is available.  So sit back, relax and enjoy for a moment.

The beer comes in 5 types, 5 colors.  "Ruri," "Beniaka," "Kyara," "Shiro," and "Shikkoku."

Each beer is different in tastes, colors, and has beautiful labels.  You can almost feel in the air their posing you a question "Which one is your favorite?"  The choice may differ depending on time and situation.

COEDO beer has a wonderful record of prizes.  It is almost moving.  From the very beginning the brewery focused on being recognized internationally.  So, at the 2007 Monde Selection all  5 brands won awards including 2 special golden medals.  Products winning silver medals in 2008 challenged again. The total now is Special Gold Medals for "Ruri," "Beniaka," "Shikkoku" and Gold Medals for "Kyara" and "Shiro."  Have you ever heard of beers with such achievements before?   If yes, please let me know.

This year at one of the most prestigious food contest "iTQi (International Taste and Quality Institute) Contest", "Beniaka" was given the highest 3 stars award, and the other four brands won 2 stars meaning that all five brands became winners.  On top of that, a Crystal Award.  Package design and bottle design were also awarded prizes respectively.

The key to victory is "difference."  A brand strategy that focuses on a selected target.  This is a typical example of innovation in global age.

President Asagiri of COEDO brewery, and all who work there – I congratulate you for this another success of 2008.  It is so very wonderful.

Trainings of Indian IIT students in Japan



ASIMO Demonstration@Honda Aoyama Welcome Plaza from Kihoko Suda on Vimeo.

Indian Institute of Technology is well known as one of the top universities in India that produces world class leaders.

For these excellent undergraduate students of IIT, Honda Foundation is organizing Young Engineers and Scientists project since 2007.  5 winners are selected in India each year and Dr. Pachauri of IPCC and I delivered speech to congratulate the winners at the first awarding ceremony of last year as you may have read in this blog.

The Foundation then invited 4 winners to Japan for 2 months' research and trainings.  This way, young people of India will not only learn more about Japan but will come to like Japan, and will eventually act as "Ambassadors to Japan."  It is such a wonderful project.  I certainly would like to see Japanese students given more chances of the same experience.

This year, all of the 5 winners spent 2 months in Japan.  2 students at Okazaki National Institutes of Natural Science in the field of gene technology, two at the research institute of Honda (in Miyazaki city, Miyazaki prefecture and Asaka city of Saitama prefecture), and one at Shibaura Institute of Technology.  They apparently enjoyed the stay and told us enthusiastically about their experience in a different research environment of foreign country, different city environment, different values, about punctual train operations, hospitality of Japanese people, etc.

Upon their returning back to India, we arranged a farewell dinner with people from the Honda Foundation, Dr. Sunami of GRIPS, and students from IITN (it was a pity that one student could not make it).  3 people from the meeting of the other day, which included graduates of IIT, were also present making the gathering even more stimulating.

Encounter with foreign country or different culture at an early stage of life is an valuable asset.  It would broaden one's view, as well as one's alternatives of life.  It can also very possibly help "Connecting Dots" in the "Flat World."

Many thanks to people of the Honda Foundation, faculty members who were involved in the training of the students, and everyone who supported this project.


A visit to the office of Mr. Kashiwa Sato


Mr. Sato is one of the front runners of what we might call "creators" or "art designers," creating very unique, fresh, and original designs in various fields, including the flag shop of UNIQLO in NYC, and more recently is also active as a producer.

His works are uploaded in his beautiful web site.  Mr. Sato told me the stories behind the making of this site.

His book "Kashiwa Sato’s Super Technique of Getting Things in Order (original title Sato Kashiwa no Cho Seirijyutsu)" is fantastically interesting in its insight into the basics of professionals.  I recommend you to read this by all means.  He says that designers are like (medical) doctors to the clients.  His more recent books include "Kashiwa Sato × 31 Top Runners (original title Sato Kashiwa × Top Runnter 31 nin)," etc.  Books about Kashiwa such as "How to make SAMURAI Sato Kashiwa (original title SAMURAI Sato Kashiwa no Tsukurikata)" are also available.  Please search for these books at Amazon.

Photos: His book and autograph

2_2 Img_1622_2

What happened was that by introduction, I visited his "SAMURAI" office which was actually located very close to my office.  Just as described in the book, his office was stylishly neatly organized, chairs were placed very precisely in rows at the meeting rooms, and the colors were just beautiful.  I spent about an hour there.

It is truly a great pleasure to meet first class people in different fields.  There are so many things to learn from them.

Another example of inspiring artist whom I saw recently is Mr. Kunio Kato of the Academy Award.  He is also very attractive in a different way.

“Nobel Prize and Academy Award” dialogue ? a follow up


A short time ago, I posted a story about my experience of being offered a rare opportunity of hosting an extremely charming dialogue under this title.

The dialogue was published on "Weekly Diamond" magazine so please have a look.

Enjoy reading the views and insights of Dr. Tanaka and Mr. Kato.  Also included in the article is my opinion, in short, "out of the box kind of people of the age bring changes to the society."  Search by key word "out of the box" within this site.  The search engine should hit a number of columns, since I have written repeatedly about it.

ACP Japan Chapter


This institution is quite unique.  Why does American College of Physicians (ACP) have Japan Chapter?  This is exactly the point.  Please refer to my "Message from the Governor" (in Japanese) at the start of Japan Chapter and my blog (in Japanese) for explanations.  Ever since its foundation, we organized annual meetings (reports in Japanese) with the presence of the President from the headquarters.  The first meeting was held in April, 2004.  I have been involved since the beginning, and am scheduled to serve as Governor for another year.

The annual meeting of ACP-Japan Chapter is different from other domestic meetings in that participants do not care much about his/her position/hierarchy.  I hear this especially from young people, i.e. medical students and residents.  Here are some of the scence from the meeting for you to enjoy.  I posted a report on annual meeting of last year in my blog also.

This year’s annual meeting was, like others, held in Tokyo in April with support from The Japanese Society of Internal Medicine.  Many enthusiastic discussions took place on topics such as activities of female doctors, case studies, etc. This conference lets us feel high spirits, particularly of young generation.

Two weeks after Japan meeting, the annual meeting of ACP headquarters was held at Philadelphia, and many Japanese members participated in spite of their tight schedule.

A report on series of activities of ACP-Japan Chapter is now uploaded on its web site (in Japanese).  Anyone interested are cordially invited to have a look and learn about their activities or browse through messages from the members as well as various photos.

Two days full of intellecutal inspirations; with Drs. Azimi, Miayagawa, and Ikegami


Last Friday (June 26), I have been to Hiroshima.  It was the last Roundtable for Dr. Nassirine Azimi upon her resignation from director of the UNITAR Hiroshima office where she has served for 6 years. Professor Shigeru Miyagawa and I gave lectures under the theme of 'Diversity'.  A crowd of Dr. Azimi's fans, well aware of her wonderful activities during these 6 years, gathered at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum hall where the event took place.  I had a nice relaxed dinner with Dr. Azimi and her staffs in the evening.

The content of the lectures as well as handouts are posted on the web site of UNITAR and Chugoku Shinbun newspaper.

Next day, on 27th , Drs. Azimi, Miyagawa and myself went for a walk at Miyajima.

Back to Tokyo in the evening of the same day, I enjoyed a lively dinner with Dr. Miyagawa of MIT and Dr. Eiko Ikegami, who is also working very actively in the United States.

Dr. Miyagawa is one of the faculty members that developed the 'Open Course Ware' of MIT, showing how the educational materials should be in the internet age.  He is also offering a very unique, exciting course called Visualizing Cultures with Professor John Dower, well known in Japan also for his book 'Embracing Defeat'. This course uses materials such as Commodore Perry's visit to Japan, Russo-Japanese war, atomic bomb damage at Hiroshima, Shiseido, etc.  I recommend that you visit these sites.

Dr. Ikegami is the author of 'The Taming of the Samurai', (Japanese edition title 'Honor and Adaptation; socio-historical study on the Samurai Spirit') which I have introduced several times in my blog (in Japanese), and more recently has published 'Bonds of Civility: Aesthetic Networks and the Political Origins of Japanese Culture' (Ref.1 Japanese edition title 'Bonds of Beauty and Civility; Political Origins of Japanese Socializing Culture'), both books being great elaborate works on the history of Japanese Culture.  I have been corresponding with her via e-mails but this was the first time to see her in person.  The books were written originally in English (published from Harvard University Press and Cambridge University Press respectively) and were translated into Japanese, which is truly amazing.

It was a very, very full and intellectually inspiring two days.