Lively ‘Open Research Forum 2009’


The day after returning from Dubai I went for a panel ‘Global Agenda and Japan’ (Ref.1) (in Japanese) in ‘G-SEC 3rd annual conference’, a part of the series of lectures and panels  (in Japanese) named ‘ORF 2009’ organized by Keio University.  Many programs were running simultaneously and there was a lively mood in the air reflecting the fact that a large number of the participants were young people.

The panel (video) started with a great keynote lecture by Mr. Yoichi Funabashi, Editor in Chief of the Asahi Newspaper.  Then, Dr. Heizo Takenaka hosted the panel of Mr. Funabashi and three of us who just returned fromDubai and Fujairah the day before; Drs. Tamura, Kondo and myself.  Dr. Motohisa Furukawa could not make it because his work at the government office was ‘Super’ heavy.

The people in this panel were all those who could see Japan clearly from ‘outside’ so the discussion was very active.  I wished there was more time ? we ran out of it too quickly.

Perhaps you may feel that I am basically talking about the same theme recently (global change, the ‘strength’ and ‘weak points’ of Japan, etc.).    However, the audience is different every time, so I keep on talking about these matters even if it sounds repetitious.

Global Agenda Council


From GEW I flew via Kansai Airport to Dubai.  I was one day late for the‘Global Agenda Council’ (GAC) (Ref.1), hosted by World Economic Forum.

I arrived Dubai very early in the morning, checked in at Jumeirah Al Qasr Hotel, the same hotel as last year, took a quick shower and went off to the conference. I was here at GAC last year (Ref.1), too.

Building agenda through a process of ‘Brain Storming’ by various leaders of the world will, without doubt, increasingly become important in this quickly flattening global age.  While I admit that participating in a number of Councils is intense and tiring, it is still very exciting, enlightening, and rewarding because you learn so much by exchanging different views and thoughts.
However, Future of Japan (FoJ; Co-chaired by Dr. Takenaka and myself but Dr. Takenaka was unable to come to Dubai this time.) was exhausting.  We – Drs. Heizo Takenaka, Yoko Ishikura, myself, and several others – did prepare draft plans in Tokyo but at the morning session in Dubai a drastic change was recommended, became a different story, and we had to re-write.  We worked very hard concentrating to make our recommendations on an agenda of the Davos meeting to be held in January.

After this morning session, everybody kept on being busy attending various Council sesions.  I joined in sessions on Innovation and a few others.  There was an additional joint session with FoJ and Future of China, Future of Korea.  We asked Dr. Ishikura to moderate this session, too, because she is a very good and effective moderator.  Many of the members of the three Councils, Japan, Korea and China, know each other through various WEF conferences such as Davos and Dalien.

Various scenes from the forum are on the web, for your reference.

The FoJ meeting resumed again late in the afternoon.  Mr. Charles Lake of Aflac, Mr. Mitachi of BCG  (in Japanese), and Mr. Tsuchiya of WEF Tokyo Office (Dr. Ishikura was very tired as you can imagine) concentrated for 3 hours to develop a new plan.  I was sorry that Dr. Ishikura had to bear such huge burden that whole day.  Of course everybody was extremely helpful, but I think we should think of better ways of processing our Council paper .  I honestly think so.

After a long day of hard work, we went to the same restaurant as last year,‘Zheng He’ to have dinner and cheer up.  This was a nice change.

Next day, I participated in several wrapping-up sessions and enjoyed them very much.  The forum closed at about 2:30 pm.

西山田中わたし田村近藤さんPhoto1  Marco Poloi in JAL Hotel Photo2

Photo1; At the lobby of JAL Hotel in Fujairah. From left, Drs. Nishiyama, Tanaka, myself, Tamura, and Kondo
Photo 2; At Marco Polo, a restaurant at JAL Hotel in Fujairah

To kill the spare time before our departure from Dubai on 03:45 next morning, five of us; Dr. Akihiko Tanaka of the University of Tokyo (I met him just 2 days before;   Dr. Tanaka is Vice President of Internal Relations),Dr. Jiro Tamura of Keio (One of the authorities on Study of Negotiation, who works together with Dr. Daniel Shapiro of Harvard Law School, who runs Program on Negotiation – a young but very sharp, nice man)、Mr. Kohei Nishiyama, founder of Elephant Design (a fantastic company!), Dr. James Kondo who is leading Health Policy Institute, and myself chartered a car and went to Fujarirah, one of the seven emirates of theUnited Arab Emirates located at strategically important point along the Strait of Hormuz at Persian Gulf.

The travel took about 2 hours one way and the town was not so lively but we enjoyed driving the desert going through rocky mountain arriving at the coast by sunset.  Oil stations, and old mosques were things to see.  The JAL Hotel at Fujairah was pretty nice and we decided to stop by for dinner. It was a good opportunity to get more acquainted to each other (for example, we found out that Dr. Tanaka of politics was an Apple freak for 30 years and his iPhone content was quite something) and we had a good time.

We arrived at the airport by midnight.  I met several Japanese participants at the lobby and climbed into the plane for the return trip.  Thank you all for your good job well done!



GEW-2: The Main Event ? Global Entrepreneur



An event which I might call the special program of this year’s GEW was held at GRIPS on 20th.

It took place at the timing of 3 weeks before the ‘COP15’ on Climate Change in Copenhagen, new administration of Japan having announced its epoch making target of ‘cutting 25% of CO2 emission by 2020’, and 1 week after President Obama’s visit to Japan.  The focus is perfectly clear if you just take a look at the program.


At first, Denmark Ambassador Mellbin to Japan opened the session with his remarkably wonderful speech ‘From Kyoto to Copenhagen ? the smart way!’  His speech manifested expectation to Japan and strong message.

After the panel hosted by Professor Seiichiro Yonekura on; ‘How to reduce CO2 emission 25%’, Dr. Gunter Pauli delivered, as always, another wonderful speech on totally new and nice industries return to the nature ecosystem, that is beyond our imagination with explanation of the theory and presentation of examples.


At lunchtime, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a message in video.  Following this was a dialogue on ‘Entrepreneurship’ between the new US Ambassador to Japan, John V. Roos and Ms. Aiko Doden of NHK.  After this, Deputy Prim Minister Naoto Kan talked to the audience through video.


Part of the content is reported in ‘The Japan Times’as well as on the website of US embassy in Japan at the‘news archives’ of Nov. 24.


Among the 3 sessions in the afternoonI thought that ‘The Foreign Entrepreneurs' Perspective on Japan’ was especially interesting because the audience was exposed to a variety of completely fresh and different views.  As ‘The Japan Times’ reports in its article, the views of foreigners who know Japan very well but think differently must have been a sensation to many of the Japanese who participated.  I have to say that most Japanese lack ability to perceive this kind of difference (Ref.1) when Japan viewed from outside, instinctively.  But on the other hand this ability is the basics for the ‘diversity’ and ‘heterogeneity’ which is so highly important for innovation in this global age.  Since I saw former Ozeki ‘Konishiki’ of Ozumo Japanese) in the audience, I made some comments in this context about my opinion ‘the Ozumo-nization of Universities (Ref.1) (in Japanese) ' (Ref. 2).


The closing speech was given by Norway Ambassador Walther to Japan by the title ‘A Rhapsody in Green’ which was again very attractive.  However, to my regret, I had to leave the venue in the midst of his speech to head for Haneda to take a flight to Dubai.


By the way, a part of the programs of 16th and 20th which I have introduced to you in my columns ‘GEW-1’ and ‘GEW-2’ is scheduled to be reported on Nikkei so I will link to them then.  Please look forward to it



GEW -1: ‘Entrepreneur = Change Agent’


Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), an initiative by Kauffman foundation with strong support by the PM Brown of UK, and is held simultaneously around the world at this time of the year in order to promote Entrepreneurship in the world.  I have been involved in this initiative perhaps because I am known in promoting Entrepreneurship as the driving force for innovation.  GEW got on its track last year with 77 countries participated.  In Japan, Honda foundation, GRIPS, and several other institutions serve working as core organizers with the support from many idividuals and companies and institutions such as Nikkei.  I hear that the participating countries this year increased to 88. A variety of programs were held in Japan during the week of November 16 – 23, as well as additional activities before and after the week.

On 16th, the program at GRIPS opened with my keynote 'Entrepreneur = Change Agent' (Photo above).  My message was that 'Entrepreneurship' must have existed in Japan from long time ago, so there must be a Japanese word for it, and that word would be 'Shinshu no kisho'.  This thought was first introduced by Dr. Mochio Umeda, the author of 'Silicon Valley Seisin (Silicon Valley Spirit)', and I totally agree.  So, 'Entrepreneur = Change Agent' is in Japanese:

 'People full of Shinshu no kisho (entrepreneur)' = 'Henkaku sha (Change Agent)'

This is my message of the keynote lecture at GEW.  Not only the 'Founders' of business and corporate, but all those 'who have strong Shinshu no kisho (Entrepreneurship)' in society or institutions are the change agent.  The principle applies to every sector: industries, politics, universities, governments… People stuck to past experience or examples, people whose thoughts are focused first on excuses for being unable to do, is at the far opposite end of 'Entrepreneurship'.  This is always correct ? historically.

Somehow, many feel the 'lack of entrepreneurship' in any parts of our society in Japan these days.  Mr. Katakai also quoted my points in his recent blog  (in Japanese)

Executives and managements, whether in giant corporations, governments, or universities, are responsible for nurturing 'Entrepreneurship' in their people, making environment conducive to entrepreneurship. 'Organizations full of entrepreneurship' or 'Societies full of entrepreneurship' that embrace and nurture many 'people with entrepreneurship' is the organization, industry, society that promotes innovation.  This in the end will make a 'Nation full of entrepreneurship, thus innovation'.  Just by reviewing these 100 years, you will see that this is true in any excellent company.  Those companies grow and are able to adapt quickly to the changes of the environment.

How many names can you list up who were executives 10 years ago?  I mean the names of those who remain in your memories?  And why do you remember them?  I read this in a recent article in The Economist and I think this is a good point in a sense that this question reminds us the essence that corporate executives need to act to promote innovation in difficult times.

After the keynote, I quickly moved to Canadian Embassy which is located nearby, to participate in the opening day of the 2 days Symposium on Innovation co-organized by 'GRIPS-Toronto University' as part of the celebration of the 80 years anniversary of the Japan-Canada diplomatic relation.  Then I rushed back to GRIPS at lunchtime.

The noon session at GRIPS was a dialogue panel hosted by Prof. Yoko Ishikura on 'Design' with two 'Giants' of design, Mr. Naoki Sakai (in Japanese) and Mr. Ken Okuyama. I think it was a very exciting session particularly to those people in Japan who are strongly focused on technology, the 'monozukuri (manufacturing)' believers  (in Japanese) who tend to mistranslate in their mind the word 'Innovation' to 'Technological invention'.

After this session was the lecture on the philosophy of Peter Drucker by Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his birth (November 19).  Peter Drucker is regarded as a very special person even in the context of modern history.  Then, I had to leave again for the Canadian Embassy for a panel.

In the evening, I made rounds of GEW at GRIPS, Canadian Embassy, and UCLA Japan Alumni Association.  I must say it was quite a busy day!

APEC Business Summit, Dialogue with Mr. Lee Kwan Yew


IMG_1968 top Chaingi airport

After returning from Singapore on November 6th, I spent a busy week giving lectures and attending meetings and then rushed back to Singapore again on 12th forCEO Summit, a part of APEC, where I was invited to attend.  Quite a number of companies were participating.  As you may see on the web, the program was very nicely organized; there were many speeches and panels by the political leaders of the participating countries.  Of course, the official meetings by the government of each member country are scheduled separately.  It was a pity the President Obama’s arrival had to be delayed, affecting a number of events.  Videos of lectures and summaries (Ref.1) are available for your reference.  

The theme inevitably was focused on current economy status and the policies crafted by each government focusing on the region covered by APEC.  Each leader delivered strong message (how do you evaluate them after hearing and watching the videos?) but I would say that Thai, Malaysia, and Korea were among the most impressive.  Of course the words of Mr. Hu Jintao naturally had strong impact since China is the “engine” country that drives today’s world economy.  Prime Minister Hatoyama also sent out firm words in the ending of the two day conference.  Japan will host the next APEC conference in 2010, followed by the United States in 2011.  I expect everyone in charge of our government to develop, for the coming months, a clear vision of transformation of “Japan in global age” showing high the flag of CHANGE, build a truly good agenda, and carry them out to 2011.

IMG_1952 Hatoyama PM Hatoyama giving speech

Among the panels, the one on Sovereign Wealth Fund was impressive (Norway is the 2nd in the world in size and their investment selection has high reputation because of their criteria that focus on how much clean and green the companies are and to become).  Secretary of Commerce of the U.S. was also very good.  Although it was a great chance for Japanese industries to demonstrate their vitality I regret to say that I saw only few executives from Japanese companies , thus their presence was weak.  However, Mr. Mikitani of Rakuten talked in a good high spirit at a panel.  Enjoy visiting the sites of this meeting.

I would definitely say that the most moving event during these two days was the last panel on 13th, a Dialogue with former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew  (he currently holds the title of Minister Mentor).  Mr. Lee is now 86 years old, but briliant and just awesome.  His thoughts, understanding and insight of world affairs today, perspective about the future is overwhelmingly impressive.  I was very much moved just like others who were there.  Ten days earlier, he had a meeting with President Obama at the White House.  The moderator touched on this upon introducing Honorable Lee, and from then on everything was dialogue.  Mr. Lee’s response to the questions from audience was also impressively outstanding.  I met with many high officials of Singapore including a few ministers, all having worked with Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, and when asked everybody replied with a feeling of affection and respect saying “A person like Minister Mentor is very rare even in this whole wide world”.  A young Japanese entrepreneur CEO whom I met at the venue told to me ‘I was so moved I had goose flesh !.’

When a nation has a great leader we know it.  Such a nation nurtures great number of leaders.  This is true not only in the field of politics but also in universities, industries, and government offices.  In current Japanese society, it is important that everybody (especially those who are in high positions) reflect their own responsibilities of the posts and think objectively and rationally whether their performances are truly deserve the posts.  You should not come up with any ‘excuses for being unable to do’. The core issue is what to do and act upon it in this rapidly changing global age.

I am truly grateful to the government of Singapore for inviting me to such a wonderful conference.

Environment technologies ? Growth of Japan, Growth of Asia


Japan has great environment friendly clean technologies.  Many of them are the best in the world.

Clean energies and environment friendly clean technologies are attracting attentions globally.  Now is the time of huge opportunity for Japan to expand its business and provide its technologies throughout the world.  The problem is that I don’t see this happening.  As you know, our solar panel capture is getting behind rapidly globally; Japan is not the only country that has these technologies, Germany, China, US and others also have them.  Dr. Yoko Ishikura also writes in her recent book “Senryaku Shifuto (Strategy Shift)” (in Japanese) , that it is crucial to seize the opportunity, and 1) consider “Both AND & OR”, 2) be prepared for the possibilities, and 3) take actions with speed.

“Promotion of Domestic Demand” is important, but if total gross economy does not grow, domestic demand will not and cannot grow.  Moreover, Japan is one of the worst in the world in terms of “debt (to its people)”, and is the most aged and further aging country.   I wonder what we and our government are going to do about the aging population which is clear even from the analysis on prospect of population change.  It is so sad to see the lack of leadership In every sector of Japanese society.

I went to New Delhi in September to help introduce and promote Japanese environment-friendly technologies. Given an opportunity to express my view, I talked about how “mottai-nai” for Japanese corporate sector to waste such a huge business chance.  We must go out actively and vigorously to growing countries, regions – in short to wide Asia, where our business opportunities are great.  EU, America, Canada, Korea, and China are doing so already with speed.  I urge those people in Japanese industries to wake up and get started- being insular mind-set will not do any good.  To go and act global is the key to success.  Collaboration with the world with speed is absolutely necessary and important for Japan to grow delivering needed technology, products and services.

Advertisement report on this New Delhi conference appeared in Nikkei (keynote, conclusion) (PDF.1, 2) so please take a look.

Asia Health Forum in Singapore


From Abu Dhabi via Dubai airport, I flew to Singapore to participate Asia Health Forum organized by EDB (Economic Development Forum) of Singapore Government; I was a part of its planning discussion session. The venue was a beautiful Cappella Hotel on Sentosa Island.

The member consists of some 15 leading world experts from medical, pharmaceutical, public health and a team of McKinsey, an excellent consulting firm. This one day session began with a welcome by the Health Minister of Singapore , Dr Khaw followed by nearly 40 min discussion session with the Minster. The Minister is fully knowledgeable of the principle, unique historical legacy of Singapore health policy, details of current Singapore health policy and its issues, nonetheless considered perhaps the best service in the world  despite spending only 4% of GDP.

I fully enjoyed the meeting and took a late night flight finally back to Japan after 12 days of around-the-world tour which started from Ottawa. 

From San Diego to Abu Dhabi, Festival of Thinkers, and Bugatti



From Toronto, I flew to beautiful and sunny San Diego, spending an overnight stay for two important meetings. One was on global clinical study called DOPPS, a major endeavor to valuate and compare clinical practice pattern of the world in the treatment of end-stage chronic kidney disease patients; the project began 10 years ago, almost the time when Google was founded, the fact I reminded to the participants indicating how fast the world has changed. Another meeting was consultative one for a pharmaceutical company with a few world leaders and a FDA consultant on a highly innovative medicine. After some time I felt at back home as a physician and a nephrologist or a kidney specialist. It is a good feeling.

Next day, I headed to Abu Dhabi, to participate Festival of Thinkers 2009; I participated previous one as reported earlier (Ref.1).  I was on the panel on Globalization and Culture and Language, the theme and the discussion I liked very much. The presence of Japan in this Festival was weak as you may imagine. It seems I was the only Japanese this time in contrast to the Festival of 2007..

Photos 1-7; Festival of Thinkers

Photos 8-12; Bugatti 1932

It arrived just one day after the final day of FI Grand Prix. Too bad, I missed the event. But in the lobby of Emirates Palace (Ref.1, 2) , the venue of the conference, about 12 F1 cars of old and current are on display. What lovely creatures they are. Let me share some of their beautiful bodies and mechanics.

Photos 13-18; Vintage Mercedez and newer F1 cars

One is Bugatti of 1932. For many years, I was intrigued by Jiro Shirasu, thus, when an opportunity arose I introduced books on him (in Japanese). Mr Shirasu studied at Cambridge University, owned a Bugatti and made an unbelievably crazy driving with his life-long friend Robin Byng, one of most notable families, to Gibraltar back to UK in two week through France, Spain, and other places, probably unthinkable speed particularly considering the roads of those days. Other cars on display include vintage Mercedez, Maserati, Ferrari and more recent models. Enjoy the photos.

The Gairdner Award


The day of the award begins with a series of excellent lectures by 2009 Gairdner laureates, rich content of outstanding science with passion for science of those laureates who contributed and those who supported their work; each has his/her own beautiful stories to tell. Lucy Shapiro’s story was outstanding, of a bacterial 3 dimensional dynamic molecular mystery of her life work including collaborations of her husband, a physicist. I know her personally, and her one son is a urologist who worked recently for 3 years at US Naval Hospital in Okinawa, and her daughter-in-law is a marine officer just returned from Afghanistan. What a family she has!

Dr Mori’s story was also moving in that he left Japan from his tenured position because he felt what he was supposed to do then was something wrong and boring; he decided to venture to US; through a lot of struggles, but found a right career he loved as he told us. He was very grateful for his parents who are not wealthy, but supported him to go through university and let him go to US. He of course brought with him his parents, family, and several staff researchers, and it was good to congratulate his entire family.

Dr Yamanaka focused on how he came over through these years after 2 years of clinical training, graduate study in research in Japan, and moved to California for completely new research project. There, he encountered seemingly a totally failure, but hanged on to pursue what may be happening. From unexpected findings with full of struggles, he came back to Nara with three graduate students, then Kyoto, where he finally made his landmark discovery with a few graduate students and technicians in the last few years

Dr Sackett’s historical story of major errors made by excellent clinicians being observers, which includes William Osler. He told me personally, he was also surprised by his findings on Dr Osler.

All lectures reveal core personality of each laureate. The day was ended with unquestionably thoughts-provoking guest, Sydney Brenner, who talked about ‘Humanity Gene’ with his usual sense of humor, but a serious message.

Photo_3 Photo 1:Honorable Ambassador Nishida and Mrs.Nishida
Gairdner 091029 0114Photo 2: From left Dr. Pierre Chartrand, Vice-President, CIHR., Dr Peter Singer (Ref.


In the evening, the award ceremony was held at the Royal Ontario Museum. Proud Ambassador Nishida was on the stage to accompany the ceremony of two Japanese laureates.

After return to the hotel, I had drinks in our hotel bar with Dr Yamanaka and his staff and Dr Mori just dropped by.

It was a very good few days in Toronto for me and for all Japanese science community. This year also celebrates Japan-Canada’s 80th year of Diplomatic Relation. As you may recall, earlier this year Emperor and Empress of Japan visited Canada (Ref.1 ).

I will leave for San Diego early tomorrow morning.