University of Tokyo and Health Policy Institute Co-Organize ‘Global Health Policy Summer Program’


Global Health is now a hot topic at the University of Tokyo.   In this context, our Health Policy Institute and the University of Tokyo co-organized‘Global Health Policy Summer Program 2010’ (in Japanese.  English version will be posted soon) with participation of about 30 very eager and movited students (including graduate students and those who are currently studying abroad).  I joined this event on the opening day, July 26th, and enjoyed mainly interactive dialogues for 90 min. The session was carried out half in English and half in Japanese.

Everyone spoke up actively which I think resulted in good exchange of views.  After my speech, Professor Kenji Shibuya, the host from the University of Tokyo, gave another session in English.

As always, I asked the participants to send me e-mails, which they responded, so I continue to hear and exchange views even after the event.  Through these correspondences I realized how each student are thinking hard in spite of all sorts of difficulties and uncertainties that they feel because of their strong interest to this topic.  I sincerely wish that their experience in this program will help each of them think about next steps, in whatever way possible, in the future.  I look forward to seeing what sort of policy recommendations they will come up with.

Fly and soar, you future leaders of the Global Health! 

Japan Wine Challenge Gala Dinner & Charity Auction


I enjoy wines, not as any expert, in contrast to many of you and friends, thus have posted a few times such occasions when they are exceptional. There are also many gatherings for fund-raising charity I join sometimes with my friends.

Last week, I joined with my good friends, Japan Wine Challenge Gala Dinner & Charity Auction; this year’s charity is for the Tyler Foundation, which has been active in helping children with cancer.

I am not an expert of wine, but enjoy good wines as I posted a few times (Ref.1).

We joined around a table with 10 friends, and one wine expert to guide us. It so happens he knows well not only about wines, but also a very good friend of a couple who owns a wineyard in Baune, Bourgogne, where we stayed for three days in March.

Many surprises, old and new friends, and lots of fun conversations over many bottles of wines and a course dinner. Total money raised through auctions and lotteries came around 10,000,000 Yen, which goes to the Tylor Foundation..

We all had a good time. 

Sharing Time with Dr. Muhammad Yunus


Dr. Muhammad Yunus is known for starting a program to support poor women in Bangladesh to earn living through a system called Microfinance (Grameen Bank). Today, the method of Microfinance is spread throughout the world.

Dr. Yunus was awarded the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, and I have touched on it describing its effect/meaning to the world in my Opening Keynote at the Meeting of Ministers of Environment, 2008 G8+5 Summit.   Also, there are several postings in my website introducing him to you (Ref.1,2).  

As you may know, Dr. Yunus visited Japan just recently.  Media reported that President Yanai of UniQlo  will collaborate with him.  Many of you may also have seen the media coverage of other variety of activities Dr. Yunus was involved during his stay in Japan.  Kyusyu University and Rikkyo University (the links are in Japanese) (Ref.1) also have been working with Dr. Yunus.

I had an opportunity to join dinner with Dr. Yunus and talk about many things.  His words are always impressively passionate and clear.  I understand that now he is helping the issue of poverty in the United States; his activities are quickly expanding to such fields as poverty, education, health care, job creation.   We enjoyed listening to many of his thoughts including his very clear and persuasive view on ‘why women?’.

Dr. Yunus and I also talked about the project of the students of Waseda University which we helped get started.  Two of the students took leave of absence from the University to begin a new Japanese project with the local Grameen bank.  They also launched Grameen Change Maker Project (Ref.1) (the links are in Japanese) in Japan to encourage participation of more Japanese university students and youths.  What they are doing is absolutely wonderful and full of young energy.  I am very pleased to see this happening.

Visit their websites (Ref.1) (the links are in Japanese) and you will see how enthusiastic and passionate they are.  I believe youths must be ‘full of enthusiasm’.

Just as Dr. Yunus and I were talking about them, an e-mail from these students, Mr. Miyoshi and Mr. Saisyo, came in from Dhaka.  I quickly sent reply to them and said to Dr. Yunus that ‘I have copied my reply to you, too’.  Such things can happen because we live in a very inter-connected world.

World is getting smaller and smaller.  I recommend young people to go outside to see the world.  ‘Let Us Take Leave of Absence from School’(Ref.1) is the key.  This will provide you with a very good opportunity to broaden your view, look at your ‘self’, see Japan from outside and find your ‘self’.   I ask universities (and government) for their support and encouragement, too.  I say so because this is also the direction in the major universities of the world, which recognize such programs very important for nurturing the leaders of the global age.

‘See-D’ Contest; Looking for New Ideas for the Developing Countries


See-D Contest will kick off soon by students with entrepreneurship in search for new ideas that utilize ‘appropriate technologies’ for the benefit of developing countries.  I have introduced some activities of these students as you see in my blog postings (Ref.1).  

The sub-title of this contest is ‘Open Symposium for Creating Innovative Ideas for the Developing Countries’.

The date of the contest is July 31st (Sat.).  Students, engineers, companies interested in supporting and joining such activities, are cordially invited to participate.  Please register through the web site of See-D Contest.

You are also welcome to join us in ‘FaceBook’.

Asian Innovation Forum 2010 in September


Asian Innovation Forum (AIF) organized by Mr. Nobuyuki Idei, the former President and CEO of Sony who leads Quantum Leaps), will open on September 28th and 29th in Tokyo.  For a report on last year’s forum, please refer to my blog posting.  You can register through their website.

The Forum started 4 years ago, and ever since then I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Idei for this important event by the wonderful leader in business sector of Japan.

I hope and expect this year’s ‘AIF2010’ to serve as a platform for even more provocative discussions than last year.  For we have seen no progress at all in the situation of Japan – rather it seems to be getting worse.  Don’t you agree?

The Forum also has a Twitter account for you to follow.

Please come and join with us.  I look forward to seeing you all at the Forum. 

Kidney Center in Hanoi, 10th Anniversary


In the morning of 9th, after the dialogue session with Mr. Toyama, I left for Hanoi.  This travel is to join the 10th anniversary of the Kidney Center which I helped its foundation with Dr Tang and Dr Ann  whom I have introduced to you last year. This plan is also an outcome of the effort by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) for these 20 years of focusing its activities to the programs for developing countries

In 1990 the ISN meeting was held in Tokyo.  I have been leading the ISN activities as a committee and executive member and later as the President (1997-99) of the ISN, so I was naturally involved in COMGAN  program in reaching developing countries since its very beginning, and have traveled to Asia and many other parts of the world.  Through various activities such as COMGAN, ISN has succeeded in constructing the networks of people throughout the world for 15 years including kidney specialists in many developing countries of the world.  We celebrated the 50th anniversary of ISN last month although I had to be excused because of other responsibilities elsewhere.

Through more than 20 years of work at Asian Pacific Congress of Nephrology (Ref.1) and other activities, I have expanded my networks with many kidney specialists, medical leaders and scientists in Asia Pacific including Dr Tang and his colleagues,  visited Hanoi and Ho Chi Ming City (former Saigon) a few times, and about 15 years ago we started to make plans for Kidney Center.  The hospitals and clinics then were in terrible conditions that one may hardly imagine.

The Kidney Center is located within the hospital of Ministry of Transportation.  It is an outcome of what we would call today the ‘Public Private Partnership’ between the government of Vietnam and a few corporations of Japan.  Japanese companies did not necessarily pursue profits, but brought about a big success in creating jobs and enhancing the growth of local businesses.   I attended their 5th anniversary, and now we are celebrating the 10th.  We had a great exciting ceremony with large number of participants.

The accommodation at Hanoi was Intercontinental Hotel. I highly recommend to try this nice elegant hotel which stands by the lake if you have a chance to visit here.

On 11th, I moved to Ho Chi Ming City. Here, everything is much more ‘developed’ compared to Hanoi and was filled with completely different energy.  I enjoyed dinner with my friends here at Cham Charm.  I do not hesitate to recommend this restaurant to you also.

At any rate, every city is filled with motorbikes.  I even saw a whole family riding on one bike. So energetic!

The return flight from Ho Chi Ming City was in the midnight of 11th, so I was able to hear the news of the overall result of the election of the Upper of Japan.  I regret having had to miss watching the World Cup final game…. I congratulate Spain for the victory.

A Very Provocative Dialogue with Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama


Among the books that I recommend to young people are the books by Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama (Ref.1) (links are in Japanese), ‘Yubi ippon no syunen ga shyobu wo kimeru (A finger-tip of obsession decides the winner)’ and  ‘Kaishya wa atama kara kusaru (A company will rot from the head)’.  If you have not read these books yet, I can assure you that they are worth reading.  Mr. Toyama has done a great job at Sangyo Saisei Kiko (Industrial Revitalization Corporation of Japan) and more recently was involved actively in the effort of revitalizing JAL (Japan Air Line)

Three years ago, Mr. Toyama and his colleagues established International Growth Platform and I was invited to its 3rd Anniversary on July 8th.  At preliminary discussions we decided that we should make very provocative comments.

The program opened by a dialogue between Mr. Toyama and Professor Kunio Ito of Hitotsubashi University (in Japanese), followed by a keynote speech by Mr. Hasegawa (Ref.1,2) (links are in Japanese), President and CEO of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., and the last was a dialogue between Mr. Toyama and myself.  Audience was about 200 people.  I arrived at the venue late so I missed the dialogue session of Mr. Toyama and Professor Ito.

President Hasegawa is a very sharp and able business executive, always speaks up his real views without hesitation and ‘no no-sense’, demonstrates strong leadership in carrying out what he believes is right.  He also earns high reputation at the Davos meeting as a top business leader.  Mr. Toyama and I, standing on the stage throughout the session, exchanged challenging and very provocative views to endorse and enhance the messages delivered by Mr. Hasegawa – his (as always) sharp analysis and drastic points of view reflecting his deep concerns about the future of Japan.  

I said, for example, that weeks before the World Cup games in South Africa I foresaw that the ‘key’ to Japan was to let Honda play as freely as he believes; that in the audience of that day, only several women (below 10) were present; that in Mr. Toyama’s company 80% of the 100 employees are ‘career’ and among them, ‘None’ employed as fresh university graduates or ‘zero’ (and this actually is pretty normal outside of Japan….); that components made in Japan were drastically less in iPad than in iPod.  I also pointed out how Japanese lack ability to recognize the ‘strength’ or ‘weakness’ unique to them, how in general, poor in building global networks of connections on individual basis, or how I hate being told of ‘reasons for why something can not be done'. Our dialogue also included many specific examples as well as specific recommendations.

Frankly, I enjoy this kind of ‘events’.  The reception that followed was filled with excitements, too (as I was told later).  But actually, to be honest, the most important key is how each one of us can take actions from here…..  I sincerely urge each one of you to start actions whatever you can in whatever position you may be.

Dr. Jonathan Dorfan to Assume the Presidency of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology


As you know, a plan to build a new graduate university in Okinawa had been in progress for quite a while.

Almost 10 years have passed since the inception of this idea, and ever since the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Promotion Corporation (OIST P.C.)  was launched as an Independent Administrative Agency with Dr. Sydney Brenner as the first President, we have been working hard for many years.  This institution’s concept is revolutionary in every aspect; the Cabinet Office of Japan is responsible in taking charge of this project, it is a scientific institution totally open to the world for the new global age.  Also, I would like to especially point out the fact that Dr. Brenner is extraordinary by his broad views and rich connections and greatly helped build OIST PC..

Since this was a very new concept, we did have some difficulties along the way such as in trying to gain understandings of the stakeholders including Japanese science community.  However, now we have paved the path enough to set up a graduate school, and finally are proud to announce that Dr. Jonathan Dorfan of Stanford University will assume his office in July as the first President elect of OIST (Ref.1).  This is truly an epoch making event.  That Japan will at last have a scientific institute with longer perspectives open to the world is something we all should celebrate.  Again, this is a revolutionary achievement.

As I have written in my past postings, conventional Japanese universities were unable to materialize such concept, although they were willing to discuss it (Ref.1, 2).  

I am determined to support President Dorfan and continue working with everyone to make this institution a success.  The credibility of science research in Japan is being evaluated and watched even through such a seemingly ‘small’ event like this in Okinawa.  I think the world might have started seeing some hopeful signs of change in Japan after a long time.

For up until now, even in the ‘academic arena’ the situation in Japan is yet closed and quite insular minded (Ref.1).

At Chatham House: From G8 to G20, Issues on Health and Development


Photos by the courtesy of NHK Asian Voice and HPI-Japan

Chatham House in London is more formally known as The Royal Institute of International Affairs, one of the world’s top Think Tanks on international issues, a place for debates, famous also for the rule often referred to as the ‘Chatham House Rule’

This Chatham House, CSIS, an American Think Tank in Washington DC (Ref.1), and  our Health Policy Institute Japan have spent about a year preparing for this meeting at the Chatham House which was held on June 30.  The meeting was scheduled at the timing of the G8 Summit in Canada that took place a few days earlier, and the theme of the meeting was ‘Global Health: What’s next for the G20? Investing in health and development’.

Its agenda, panel speakers, and sponsors were all superb.  I understand that the total number of participants was around 200.  Dr. Shigeru Omi (in Japanese), former regional director of WHO Western Pacific Regional Office, represented the government of Japan.  Also, some Japanese officials in London were present including Minister Oka of Japan Embassy, from JETRO, and NHK crew came to report this meeting.  I would like to extend my sincere thanks to them all.

Now and in the future, such process of independent Think Tanks or other non-governmental institutions hosting and organizing conferences to set global agendas to lead discussions that in the end can come up with some overall understandings or agreements is and will be extremely important.  Organizing and participating in such conferences have been a very good experience to us, too.  I myself was honored to have a role of listening to the discussions of the day and wrapping them up in the closing.  We also tried to make clear what we could do with the outcomes of this meeting, or what our next steps could be.

These things are easy to say, but actually to reach to this point was truly a tough task. I did write several postings on this process in this site (Ref.1, 2, 3) in addition to the reports which are posted on the web site of the Health Policy Institute, Japan.  Most importantly, we must understand that in the global world, building ‘personal’ credibility/trusts’ amongst ‘colleagues of the world’ is the basis of everything. 

It seems to me that one of the fundamental problems of Japan lies in the conventional attitude of the majority of the Japanese people who think that those global issues must be handled by ministries in charge, i.e. government offices or bureaucrats, or big companies if talking about industry.  In other words, our society is not yet mature enough as the ‘Civil Society’ – at least in my view.

So, let us all together nurture as many human resources and capitals as possible who are capable of taking actions based on the deep understanding of the importance of actions by independent individuals who do not necessarily rely on ‘governmental authorities’, as well as the importance of development of mutual trusts in individual levels, particularly in this ‘global’ and ‘flat’ world.

Commentary and Other Publication Relating to Harvard University


This year, I was invited twice ? in January  and May (Ref.1) – to participate in the activities of Harvard University.

No publication was issued of the meeting of January, but for the meeting in May  a report for the participants only was prepared under the Chatham House Rule.  One of the participants, Mr. Kurihara wrote in his Gazette (in Japanese) that he ‘laughed many times during Professor Kurokawa’s talk’ (p.3 left column) which I take as ‘honor and pleasure’.

Since the report includes a short description of that part, I will quote it below.

Session 2: Biotech Models for Development
‘Panelist Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan, addressed the issue of biotechnology by first delineating some key issues related to its development ? globalization, food and water, environment, and biodiversity ? and then discussing some of the challenges facing countries interested in advancing biotech. Citing Ghana and Botswana as examples, Kurokawa argued that developing countries have little need for the newest and most scientifically intricate technologies, like genetic recombination. Rather, they need simple technologies that can be used to improve the quality of life for local people.

Kurokawa advocated the deployment of existing technology to address the most severe of world crises, like food and water shortage. Such use of technology could also result in bottom-up growth and benefit social entrepreneurs. Again emphasizing the local, Kurokawa further argued that biotech enterprises should also consider how “indigenous knowledge” might propel new developments in biotechnology. Local remedies, like the use of bark to treat malaria in China or of aspirin, have the potential to help biotechnology better address the “big needs” of the world today.’
‘In the discussion that followed, Kurokawa re-emphasized his position that while frontier science contributes important discoveries, these discoveries should be shared and there should be a collective effort to apply new advancements to the betterment of the human condition.’

Another publication is a Commentary which I co-authored with my colleague Dr. William Saito for ‘Harvard Asia Quarterly’  published by Harvard Asia Center.  Its title and summary are as below.

Global Climate Change:
The Interconnection with Medical Technology and Health Care

Medicine, along with culture and technology, can both cause and resolve the problem of climate change. Medicine has helped reduce infant mortality and increase longevity, thus contributing to overpopulation which results in excessive pollution and resource consumption. But it can also help solve these problems by providing better forms of contraception and education.

The full text  is about 7,000 words which is a bit long, but if you could spare time to read it, I would be very grateful for comments and suggestions.