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.
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.