Paris, UNESCO-L’Oreal Award, and “Soft Power”



Photo 1: In front of Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church

Paris in autumn is lovely.  I was there on September 28th .  L’Oreal Award selection committee is scheduled to meet on 29th to select and honor female scientists that performed wonderful achievements.  I have written on this several times in my blog (Ref.1) before.

In the evening of 28th, the day of my arrival, I had dinner with Dr. Mimura and his wife.  Dr. Mimura finished his clerkship in America and has recently assumed a position at American Hospital of Paris.  I have been corresponding with this hospital for more than 10 years now.  By the way, Dr. Mimura and I are friends but so are our families.  Especially my family and I have a long history of friendship with Dr. Mimura’s wife Nacchan (who is also a medical doctor) and her family.

After dinner, the three of us went for a walk to St Germain de Pres near my hotel.  The photo at the top is Saint-Germain-des-Pres Church (Vicor Hugo was active in the restoration of this church, I hear.)  Paris in autumn is beautiful.

Dsc00642_2_2 Photo 2: With Drs. Mimura at a Cafe in St German de Pres

At the selection committee of 29th , we selected 5 wonderful winners.  Although the discussion was heated during selection, in the end we came to unanimous decision.  I will write on this again after the winners are announced officially.  Activities such as this L’Oreal Award have a great IR impact that appeals to the world. This is a true soft power.

Dsc00648_3_2 Dsc00649_4_3

Photos 3, 4: Snap shots from the selection committe

In the evening, like 2 years before, L’Oreal invited us to a concert. (Photo 5).  Last time I had to leave for the airport during intermission, but this time I was able to listen to the end.  I came across Mr. Akiba of UNESCO embassy at the concert.  We had a cocktail together at intermission, went for dinner in the concert hall after the program, and departed some time after 12pm.

The artists of that evening were; Piano、Daniel Barenboim, Conductor, Christoph Eschenbach, with Orchestre de Paris.  Several Japanese were playing also.

The program was: 
Berlioz; Benvenuto Cellini, ouverture, op. 23; Carnaval romain, ouverture, op 9
Chopin ; Concerto pour piano n. 2 en fa minerur, op. 21 ;  n. 1 en mi mineur, op. 11

Barenboim was wonderful.  I felt his character being reflected in his music.

Dsc00665_5_2 Photo 5; Barenboim (center) and Eshenbach (left end)

It was an evening full of lovely, rich experience.  I think what I experienced that night was truly what we call a “soft power”.  Tradition and sophistication were there, and yet the building of the concert hall was not overwhelmingly magnificent. In comparison, I thought about a system of a country somewhere, that in the name of “soft power” builds a ‘box’ for animations, big ‘National’ or ‘Local’ ‘boxes’ of art museums and theaters of various names just to increase debt on its people. But then, we do not have enough “softs” to fill in.  So, we invite famous artists from overseas and charge senselessly high fees.  I tell you, I heard from a specialist of European music that reputation among musicians of performing in Japan is “lucrative".

Let’s expect our new administration to stop carrying out such weird policies (we had enough of them), and start a “change” to policies that fit our time.  Several shady stories are coming into light already, like relations between airport and special account, strange tricks hidden in dam constructions and other civil engineering.  We have so many stories that make us ashamed, in fact, too many.
On a television broadcast of a press conference, I noticed that the newly appointed ministers were answering to the questions of correspondents in their own words, not holding on to memos prepared by bureaucrats.  You may not have noticed it, but I think many people felt this as a fresh scene. I have told you my thoughts on this issue before (in the 2nd paragraph….)  What do you think?