From Davos – 2


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Cover Photo-Front of Venue covered with snow.

Today is January 28th, a slight snowfall, but pleasantly refreshing. At 7:30 in the morning I moved to the other end of the town of Davos to have conversation over breakfast with about 30 or so of Japanese participants.  I was happy to hear that 70 or so Japanese participants are expected this year.

By the way, reports ‘From Davos’ are posted on the website of Professor Yoko Ishikura  (linked in my blogroll) also, so I recommend that you visit there.  Dr. Ishikura is one of the few Japanese who are highly valued as effective moderator/facilitator in Davos Meetings.  Her hard work and philosophy is clear in her blog, and I feel there is much to learn from her.

By 9 am, I returned back again to the other end of Davos to participate in the session ‘Asian Brainstorming’.  The rather small room was fully packed with people, a large proportion of them were from outside Asia.  Interests in Asia are pretty high these days.  I think that one of the characteristics of Asia is variety: variety in ethnics, nationals, cultures, economies, religions and others.  However, the variety of religions in Asia is not the same as the difference we see in ‘three major religious sectors in one and the same God; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam’ that continue to be one of the major causes of conflicts in our world.  It is no surprise that Asia is attracting attentions from people when we think of its functions as the center of world economic growth especially after the recent global financial crisis.  The discussion in this session was very active whici I enjoyed very much.

After this Asia session, I went to the main venue for some more sessions. Dr. Fareed Zakaria (Ref.1, 2)  (Photo 1) whom I have introduced to you in my past posting, appears as moderator in several sessions, especially political ones.

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Photo 1; Dr. Zakaria with President Zuma of South Africa

Mr Bill Clinton, the former President of the United States (Photo2)  is UN special envoy to Haiti.  He is working hard to support Haiti after the recent earthquake and delivered special appeal for help. I learned much from his speech and panelists, various backgrounds of Haiti and its current situation.  Did you know that Haiti has a potential of high economic growth and therefore is a good investment target?  I think such point of view is also important especially in crafting the ways for support of private sector.   

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Photo:  Mr. Clinton speaking on support to Haiti

In the afternoon, I attended ‘Brainstorming’ of ‘Governors of Global Chemical Enterprises (in Japanese)’, a closed session.  I had an honor of being invited to join this session for 4 consecutive years, and have learned much from this experience, especially the thinking of executives of global enterprises. Presence of Japan is strong in this sector as well.  This year, the regular member of this meeting, Chairman Yonekura of Sumitomo Chemical, was absent since he had to leave for Japan after just one day of stay in Davos due to his recent appointment to the next leader of Keidanren.  However, Chairman Kobayashi of Mitsubishi Chemical participates every year, and President Sakakibara of Toray Industries was here two years ago.  My long time friend Sir David King of the United Kingdom, and China’s leader, Mr. Siwei were also present as invited guests.  This year, Dr. Brian Baird, member of the House of Representatives of the United States, joined and made valued comments on policy making process, which was very thought provoking.  After the Brainstorming, I had an opportunity to talk with him person to person for about 20 minutes, which was a great pleasure.  He is a very good man.

By then, I have had traveled from one end of Davos to another end of Davos a few times times today.

I spent the remaining time of the day attending sessions at the main venue.  Those events are reported at the web site of WEF so please visit and enjoy.

Lee Korea IMG_2092Photo; President Lee of Korea

The photo isPresident Lee of Korea (I have written total of 6 reports: 5 on UAE Nuclear Power Plant and 1 on visit to India on my web site in January. He is moving very actively as the leader of his nation), who will be hosting the G20 this year.  His speech in Hangul delivered a clear message that was well received.

Special Addresses by the First Vice-Premier of China Li Kequiang,  Prime Minister Harper of Canada, host of the G8 this year (though he focused mainly on G20…), and a Panel with the head of 6 countries hosted by Fareed Zakaria etc; each and every one of them was superb.  In the last session, the first question from the audience was raised by Mr Bill Gates.

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Photo; At Japan Night (from right) Ms. Doden of NHK, President Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceutical (was well received at Panel), Mr. Okabe, editor-in-chief of Nikkei.

After these sessions followed ‘Japan Night’ (Photo) which has now become an annual event.  The host of this year was JETRO.  We had a very enjoyable time with quite a number of guests.  I understand that over 70 participants gathered from Japan this year, unheard of in the past.  Korea and China seems to have sent more participants, though…..

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President Sarkozy

On 26th, I left Narita to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, which has now become an annual event for me.  This time the flight was to Zurich via Frankfurt.  Drs. Jun Murai (Internet) of Keio University, Takeshi Natsuno (iMode)  Heizo Takenaka (Economy)  were on the same plane.  I arrived at the hotel in Davos at about 10:30pm, a bit tired.

Leaders of a number of Asian nations were scheduled to come this year, but I was somewhat concerned about political leaders from Japan since the timing always overlaps with the Diet session, and moreover the ‘politics and economy’ are catching people’s attention especially as a hot topic this year.  But in the end, I was relieved to learn that 3 Ministers may come.

The programs and details of the meeting are available at the web site of WEF.

On 27th, I attended the morning, session ‘Germs and Globalization’ and afternoon, session ‘Arts, Culture and the Digital Age’.  In ‘Arts…..’, I was particularly impressed by the presentation Dr. John Maeda  (Ref.1) (Photos below), a Nisei, former Professor of the Media Lab of MIT, currently the President of Rhodes Island School of Design.  He is highly accomplished and loved by everybody, and appears in many sessions this year’s WEF.

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Dr. John Maeda

In the afternoon there was ‘World Economic Forum Brainstorming; Redefining the Global Commons’.   It was quite an interesting theme, but too many participants caused the session to become somewhat not well focused, at least that was the impression I had.  The Ideas Lab of MIT was too packed and I regretfully had to miss the event.

President Nicolas Sarkozy  (Top Photo) gave plenary speech in the evening delivered with a lot of enthusiasm.  After the speech we listened to the piano by Lang Lang , a beautiful performance.

In the evening, I participated in the panel ‘The Rise of Asia’ with Mr. Kuroda, President of Asian Development Bank (ADB) and a few others.  The challenge in these panels (and of course elsewhere and anywhere) is how you connect with people; send out messages with wit, in a short and clear manner.

The meeting of this year was again filled with many new encounters.

Japan in the Global age; Apparent Weakness in Education


Education in Japan including higher education, i.e. the foundation of human resource development, lack recognition of the world trend and future direction of this global age, a recognition that a major paradigm shift has taken place in the last decade or two.  I have been pointing this out repeatedly in this site and elsewhere.

I recently introduced you Professor Hisashi Kobayashi (Ref.1), who served as a Professor at Princeton University for many years.  We exchange views via e-mail frequently, discuss on his materials etc., to broaden our prospects.

Dr. Kobayashi recently posted his points on his website in a very clear and straight-forward manner.  I agree 100% to his views and concerns.  Please, by all means, read it and think hard.

How can we ever make progress?  Japan’s future depends precisely on education, nurturing of our people.  I feel Dr. Kobayashi provides us through his message a number of clues and specific actions to address and solve the problem of ‘Concerns on Japan as seen from Outside’; hints on how education should be.  How about your thoughts?

Closer Ties Between India and South Korea


I have strongly appealed (Ref.1), more than few times, Japan’s low presence in India, a country with 1 billion people with expected economic growth for decades to come.

As you see in my recent series of five blog postings on a victory by the South Korean team on the bid of nuclear energy plants of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), South Korean business sector has been very aggressive in ‘Go Global’, eg, Samsung, LG, Hyundai and many others.

Another big surprise (Ref.1) of the last few days was press coverage that Indian government honored South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak as the chief guest of the Republic Day of India, January 26th, perhaps one of two major days of India (another one is August 15th, Independence Day from British Colonization); it is apparently the first time head of state of Asia received this honor. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France received this honor- though Indians were not happy with his being with his new girl friend.

What I was a bit worried in my blog posting part 2 of Korean victory in UAE, Japan has not been, in my view, aggressive enough to pursue our various missions to the world partners with strategic vision.

A press of January 20th, explained why India is keen to further its relation with Korea. Of course, nuclear technology is one of them.

A series of aggressive global campaign of President Lee is to show the world his nation particularly at this time, hosting later this year G20.  Is there any attempt by the Japanese government to show its leadership in various global stages, for example, World Economic Forum in this month, G8 Summit in June, and its presence in hosting APEC in November this year?

I wish you try to learn lessons what is going on in the world with your eyes wide open trying to develop ‘Vision’ and Strategy toward Vision.

Korea wins the Nuclear Power Plant bid of the United Arab Emirates – Part5; Active Academic Exchanges of Universities


This month I have written 4 reports on this site focusing on the competitiveness of Korea in nuclear power in Abu Dhabi.  The reason why I did this is that there are so many lessons to be learned from this case.

Here, we are able to learn lessons on the importance of strategic approach to the target, to fully understand the needs of the customers.  And of course, lessons on decisions and actions with speed.

As I have written in ‘Part 2’, collaborative research in nuclear power and capacity development are important components of the proposals of Korea.  It was clearly stated in the Request For Proposal by the Emirates Government.  KAIST (Ref.1) and KUSTAR agreed on overall cooperation in education and research in science and technology including nuclear power. 

KAIST has a history of 40 years, but in the last decade, it is quickly transformed itself into a highly competitiveness, world premier institute to meet the challenges of the global world. The institution invited Nobel laureate physician Professor Laughlin from Stanford University as President, and in 2006, has welcomed Professor Shu Nam Pyo (Ref.1) from MIT as his successor. Indeed, KAIST is changing rapidly, and of course, all courses are given in English.

If you think of the rapid change this world is going through, drastic transformation is absolutely needed in every sector of the society, which includes university education, It is obvious that such daring appointments as above are sometimes necessary and indeed more effective and more ‘telling’.  More than a few universities (Cambridge、Princeton、 Harvard、 MIT、 University of  Pennsylvania、Brown, Princeton, etc.) welcomed women as their Presidents.   I am sorry to say that in Japan, this kind of appointment is hard even to imagine.  The world is making great effort to invest in education for capacity building of their people  capable of taking challenges of competing in the global world.  I am quite impressed with the number and eagerness of Korean students going overseas to pursue higher education as, for example, my comments in The Time magazine

Exampl such as this clearly indicates how badly Japan is closed to the outside world compared to other nations.  I have been pointing this out again and again in this site also.  I urge not only Universities (please refer to article by Dr. Glen S. Fukushima (in Japanese)), but also Professors to buckle up!  Don’t forget that students are our future human resource and our future heavily depend on them.  Nothing can be done if their mentors are closed minded.

From Harvard University


I came to Boston on January 14.  It’s been a long time since I was here before.  The purpose of this visit is to attend a conference planned by Prof. Lisa Berkman, Director of ‘Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies’ of Harvard School of Public Health (SPH) for two days on 15th and 16th.

The conference aims to discuss social determinants of health, which, in a sense, is a process for putting into actions the pertinent recommendations of the report of the WHO Commission for Social Determinants of Health (CSDH)(Ref.1). On the first day, we discussed what the major social determinants were, and on the second, we tried to identify issues and how to take them into account the situation as well as the determinants of each country.

Dr. Berkman, the host, Dr. Julio Frenk, the Dean, and Dr. Michael Marmot, the Chair of WHO-CSDH Committee delivered lectures which were all superbly done.

On 15th, we divided discussion groups by themes of; ‘Aging’, ‘Equity from the Start’, ‘Gender Equity’, ‘Health Equity in All Policies, Systems and Programs’, ‘Health People, Health Places’, ‘Political Empowerment’, and ‘Intergenerational Transfer and Social Protection’.

On 16th, we continued discussions by separating in the 8 participating countries of Brazil, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Uganda, United Kingdom, USA.

I served as leader for the Japan delegate consisting of Dr. Katsunori Kondo known for his work on studies of social determinants of health, Dr. Keizo Takemi, former Senior Vice Minister of Health, very productive in the field of global health policy,  and Dr. Soshi Takao; Professor Ichiro Kawachi,  who leads Harvard SPH Social Epidemiology. joined our discussion. We discussed issues of Japan by focusing on ‘Aging’, ‘Gender Empowerment’, ‘Suicide’, and ‘Poverty Index’.  Dr. Ikeda, a post-doc at SPH, served as Rapporteur; she has many years of study in US.

Eight countries participated in this new meeting which was apparently a new kind of effort in promoting CSDH, and I had a strong impression that the government of Great Britain had a clear commitment in drafting and executing policies on the basis of reliable data, the process which I was very envious of.  This process of UK was very much in contrast to that of Japan.

By the way, The Royal Society is celebrating its 350th anniversary this year and many events are being planned under the catchphrase of ‘The Home of Modern Science’.  I felt that Great Britain has rich history and tradition in the field of science (mind you, not ‘science technology’).

In the evening of 15th, we were invited for dinner at Loeb House of Harvard Yard (the center of the University.  Dorms where all freshmen stay, major libraries such as Widener Library, venue of the commencement ceremony are at this place).  Loeb House used to be (not for past many years) the residence of the President of Harvard University.

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Photos: From top, Widener Library, two scenes from Harvard Yard, and two photos of Quincy House, one of student dormitories outside Harvard Yard

On 16th, about 12 people – not only people in medicine whom I am familiar with, but also students, post-docs, and faculty at Harvard and MIT in the field of natural sciences and engineering – had dinner together at Legal Seafood (photo below), a restaurant located behind the Charles Hotel where I stayed; we all enjoyed dinner very much. Some of the people have appeared in this blog postings (Ref.1, 2).

Dinner with Students Harvard
Photo:At Legal Seafood

A graduate student in physics, a medical researcher who came back to Boston after post-doc for a few years in Boston then once returned to Japan etc.  They are all working with high spirits.  As always, we shared good time together.  Those who have spent more than 5 years in the USA seemed to be struggling about which country (US vs Japan) to build their further career, but at the same time had strong desire to contribute to Japan in one way or other.  I see great possibilities in them although they will face many challenges on their further career building  It is very important to support and encourage these young people.

Although I was anxious about the weather in Boston because of the season, but fortunately, we had bright sunny sky all through the 3 days.

Still a Long Way to Go for Women


In my previous posting, I commented on ‘fear or prejudice against women’ in Japanese companies seen in the event of globalization.  However, such feelings against woman empowerment are shared largely in Japan as I have often pointed out in this web-site.  Please search within this site for keywords such as ‘women’, ‘men and women’, ‘gender empowerment’, etc.

One reason for this is that men, especially those in higher rank of social ladder, oppose mentally to changes of a men-centered chauvinistic social structure.  Don’t they have enough confidence in themselves for being compared to women?

However, it is a fact that more than 50% of the economy and buying power belong to women. Besides, given the fact that Japan’s population is shrinking, we cannot miss the opportunity of inviting women’s participation and their power in society just as we do with senior people’s power.  From my point of view it is just prejudice to say that doing so will turn the country to ordinary ‘domestic oriented’ thinking where economic and business growth will be hindered.

Kathy Matsui proposes on‘Womanomics’  a detailed  analysis of relations between women participation in the workforce and economic growth.  The most important element is change in social structure, i.e. social innovation, conducive to gender empower..

I would also like to point out that basically men and women have different views and values.  With more women in the workforce, what would this world be like?  Certainly it would change to a different society compared to historical men-centered one.  Like it or not, this is a world trend and it is not only bad as some of you may think otherwise.  Many good examples are also known.

In global enterprises, outstanding female CEOs are increasing;K. Nooyi of Pepsi is one example. At Xerox Ms Mulcahy who led a major change retired as chairman, and the succeeding CEO is again female; Ms U Burns. And Avon and so on.  These companies all appear to be in good shape.  Female participation in social workforce is expected to expand in Middle East as well.

By the way, in relation to my recent 4 postings on the victory of Korea in the bidding of nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi, Ann Leuvergeon (Ref.1), the CEO of Areva, a French company which was the strongest candidate, is also woman. 

In Japan, although the number of female senators have increased after the recent election of the House of Representatives – that ended in the victory of Democratic Party of Japan -  its proportion is still less then 15% of the whole.

Japan, a country of ‘soshokukei danshi’ or "herbivorous men" and ‘nikushokukei joshi’ or "carnivorous women" with high ability who are being hindered from working actively….  I wonder where this country is headed to…

Nomura Securities and Lehman: Eyes to See Japan from ‘Outside’, Senses to Feel ‘Self’


Since the ‘Lehman shock’ of September, 2008 (though this is now a hackneyed phrase), the world economy is struggling.  How terrible the ‘Greed of Elites’ flocking at the Wall Street could have done to the global world, but now, I think positively of the movements of past one year in which people started to discuss the essence of ‘Capitalism’.

It was around this timing, I trust that you all remember, that the news of Nomura Securities having succeeded in buying the Asia & European division of Lehman was reported.  The media basically said that Nomura made a daring move and it was a good decision for Nomura in the context of expanding its business to the world.  I agree.

However, a question that quickly came in my mind was how well Nomura could handle its new ‘non-Japanese employees’?.  Do the managements of Nomura have such expertise and ability?  Financial market is a bit different from manufacturing industries and this has to be taken into account, too.  In financial sector, your value rests mainly on brain-power and judgements, and your ‘pay’ is determined principally based on this kind of overall performance.

Here is an article that made me convinced that I was right.  A piece from last Summer’s ‘Wall Street Journal’ .

I was of course concerned about how Nomura will cope with the difference of staff management and compensation, but what is described in this article in addition, is nothing but gender discrimination.  I suspect that Japanese do not see anything ‘wrong’ in things like these ? many people would say that such policy is a part of standards in Japanese companies…, or judging from how western media reported this, if the media treat Nomura like this, then Japanese banks are more conservative, not to mention mega-companies.  ‘You call yourself a ‘global enterprise’, but in reality… far from it….’  I would say that this is Japan as seen from ‘outside’.

Such tiny things of daily actions in the management, each one so small that you might think of them as problems within the company norm, is in reality something that can become a big problem of credibility of the enterprise.  When these questions on the credibility of the enterprise spread, it will eventually lead to the decline of the power of nation.  It is a serious problem.

Do you dislike global world, then?  Do you want to close our country, then?  Do you really believe that you can do such things?  Don’t you care that our lifelines; energy, food… depend largely on import from overseas?  Are you suggesting Japan to be a ‘closed nation, Sakoku’?

Korea wins the Nuclear power plant bid at United Arab Emirates – Part4


This January I have posted series of 3 reports on this theme.  I write this because I believe that there are many lessons to be learned from this news, its background, and in thinking how Japan should promote ‘clean energy’ – the growing industry of the future.

In my 4th report, I introduced information/reports on what requirements the UAE proposed , and what were the points where the proposal from Korea’s was highly evaluated. They are taken from open sources, but I think you will find them informative and useful.  Don’t try to get away by saying ‘We knew it’ or ‘They are just beautiful words’, because that would make you a whining loser.  Such attitude will only lead to another defeat.

Please take time to read through carefully through these interesting materials.

A mind to learn humbly, learning from defeat, to ‘Katte Kabuto no O-wo Shimeyo (tie up the strings of your helmet after victory)’, is the universal wisdom and important attitude.  What message do you see from these materials? What lessons do you learn from this and/or my previous 3 reports?  How do you react to any request, gather information and proper connections?  Equally important is to make effort in filling the gap between our view and theirs.  This can be said about other cases too – not only the UAE.

At any rate, the renewal of oil contract with UAE (50% of UAE oil export is to Japan and 25% of the oil import into Japan is from the UAE ? a very important relationship!!) is expected in 2012, and as competition for energy is becoming ever severe, our rivals must be making smart moves already. As the saying goes, ‘Yudan taiteki’ (“you can't be careless or inattentive but be alert, be observant”) and ‘Ogoru Heike wa hisashikarazu ("the moral import of the tragedy and of the swift and extreme vicissitudes of fortune").  I urge all of you in government, ministries and  business  to prepare yourself and work hard for the good of the Japanese people. Buckle Up.

‘Global Agenda Seminar’ of Professor Ishikura


I assume that many of the visitors of my web-site know about Professor Yoko Ishikura.  We co-authored a book titled ‘Sekai kyu kyaria no tsukurikata (How to build a global career)’.  But to tell you the truth, she kindly did most of the work.  She recently published another book with a title with a strong impact ‘Senryaku Shifuto (Strategy Shift)’.

I introduced this book several times to you in this web-site, as well as her ‘blog’ URL which appears in my blogroll (at the right bottom of this page) for your reference.  I recommend that you visit her blog now and then because it is actually quite stimulating and inspiring.

Professor Ishikura has launched ‘Global Agenda Seminar’ (this web site is in Japanese) every once a month for about a year.  I was invited to help, and joined in its opening session as a speaker.

We did several preparatory discussions via e-mail.  There were about 50 or so participants.  ‘2/3’ of them were in their 20s or 30s and the ratio of male and female was ‘50=50’; which was very nice.  I decided to talk in English, and with a slight nervousness, went off to see the participants.

For details of the seminar, please visit the web-site of Professor Ishikura ( in Japanese).