L’Oreal Women in Science Fellowship, Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki Wins Special Award


On August 23th I left Okinawa AYEPO 2010 closing ceremony for Tokyo where I headed directly to the L’Oreal Women in Science Fellowship Award Ceremony.

As I always say, shining women are the hope of Japan.

Again this year 4 bright and young women scientists were awarded this honor.? Also this year, a special award was given to astronaut Naoko Yamazaki? (Ref.1). The ceremony was even more highlighted by her presence.? The stage was very beautifully set up and the program moved smoothly, which is very much the ‘L’Oreal style’, as I always say.? I was asked to make a toast, which I of course happily accepted.?

Every year beginning 1998, in collaboration of UNESCO, 5 wonderful women scientists are awarded one each from the 5 continents of the world?(Ref.1). This fellowship award, by the way, started in Japan five years ago to encourage the young women scientists.

I spent wonderful time with wonderful people just as I did two year ago at the award ceremony of 2008.

Quite a number of people gathered include Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, former Director General of UNESCO, former (Ms Bando) and current (Ms. Okajima) Directors of the Gender Equality Bureau, Cabinet Office (3 successive directors since this post was founded are all women).

The future of Japan lies in how quickly we can create and expand the places for women to participate actively?(Ref.1,2).?

I would say that the major barrier is the ‘men-centered chauvinistic’ mindset and social structure, the society? where ‘herbivorous (soshokukei) men’ are dominating and taking charge.? I also suspect they (men) are scared of revealing how they actually are.? However, it is clear that in this transition from ‘vertically’ to ‘horizontally’ expanding global age, the time of ‘social titles’ with little real content or value to the world has ended long time ago.


Professor Michael Sandel Visits Japan; What is its Impact?


Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard University, known and loved by ‘Heated Class: Justice (Hakunetsu Kyoshitsu Justice)’ , a lecture series broadcasted by NHK television, is visiting Japan now.  Right after  his arrival Dr. Sandel gave his lecture at the Yasuda Auditorium of University of Tokyo.  Applications for the seats, as I understand, were more than 10 times of the capacity of the hall?  This class is scheduled to be on air at NHK today (August 26th).  I am sure that it will be broadcasted again sometime in the future.  So please, by all means, watch and hear it.

Professor Sandel is scheduled to give a lecture also on 27th at some other place in Tokyo and I was invited for it but had to be excused because of my other appointments ? such a pity!  (I will write a separate column on this later, though…)  So, I introduced the organizers several young people to be there in my place.  I am sure that this will be a very good experience for them.

I have reported on this class in my blog of May 16th  and 19th in which I have made several comments about what I thought was particularly good about Dr. Sandel lecture series ? the way he organized the whole session.

Now, students in Tokyo who were lucky enough to have had a chance to attend those classes ‘live’ will naturally compare them to the lectures they hear every day, their own faculties.

And for students to be given such opportunities to attend many classes of various professors beyond one’s own universities even across national borders, for the classes to be opened to students and teachers as much as possible, are the forces which will work to improve the quality of education.  For naturally, everybody will choose what they feel to be better, and teachers will, by witnessing those wonderful lectures and classes, follow the models as their objectives.

In Global Age these good lectures will be ‘open’, thanks to the digital technologies, to public through ‘OCW’, ‘You Tube’, and eventually accumulate ‘global reputations’ leading to the ‘global standards’.  Please note that the evaluations of education and faculties will not be limited only within universities or countries.

Such education based on the concept of ‘open classes’ of the ‘global’ age is provided at Hitotsubashi Business School.  This is something ‘tuff’ to do for faculties but apparently is good for students – they will be encouraged to put much work in their learning which, in return, would lead to the good reputation of the university in both ‘domestic and international’ arena.

‘Impact factors, citations’ of the research outputs are not the only index important in evaluating universities.  Quality of education can also be evaluated globally.  Students need and want this.
Of course, the lectures of Professor Sandel can be viewed On-line.

‘Asian Youth Exchange Program in Okinawa, 2010’; Building a Network of Wonderful Youths


August 23rd was the last day of this year’s ‘AYEPO 2010’ so I headed for Okinawa to attend the closing ceremony.  The program started in 2008 (Ref.1) under the policy initiatives set by the Abe administration.

Again this year we had participants from all parts of Asia, 30 people aged 15 or 16 and 45 Japanese (1/3 of Japanese are female, as has been the case in 2008 and 2009).  All of them are full of energy.  During the 3 weeks’ sessions they saw and experienced so many things such as typhoon, Okinawa Heiwakinen (Peace) Memorial Park, home stay, diving, cleaning up the coastline, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

I joined the closing ceremony.  We watched the video of how the participants spent the days in Okinawa, and the video of singing together ‘We are the World’; participants also focused on ‘water’ as last year for discussion, and wrote a poem ‘Kiseki (Miracle)’ pretending that they were seeing the world and ourselves in year 2030.  Then after my evaluations and comments was the closing ceremony.  It was a very nice day.  How will those students be 10 to 20 years from now I wonder?  I hope that starting from this 3 weeks’ experience at Okinawa, they will have built, then, wonderful human networks among and beyond each other.

More than 10 university students joined (I hear that more than 300 students at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) applied to participate in this program. The APU has been participating from the kick off of this program.  What a wonderful reaction by the students!).  Staffs, supporters, also all worked hard to create this wonderful 3 weeks’ experience.  I would like to see people voluntarily and actively spread this kind of activities throughout Japan.  To nurture future leaders, make big circle of friendships – this is the most important core concept of human resource development in the global era. 

China Ranks 2nd, Japan Goes Down to the 3rd in the World in GDP; From the Article of The Economist


GDP of Japan which used to be the 2nd largest in the world fell to 3rd after China.

This news itself is not so much to worry about because GDP is strongly affected by the size of the population. China with population 10 times larger than Japan to overtake her (Japan’s) position of the 2nd in the world ranking of the GDP was something that was predicted for a long time the only question being ‘when’.

What truly matters is the GDP per capita.  Japan has fallen off the position of the 2nd in GDP per capita the world and has keeping places somewhere around 18th or so for quite a while.  This is not surprising, since, to begin with, Japan’s GDP has not grown in the least for these 15 years.  I suspect that Japan is the only nation in the OECD (in Japanese) that has not achieved any growth in GDP for these 15 years.

Up to date no signs of growth are observed in Japan, and few in the world expects little sign of change from Japan, thus no investments come to Japan.  Changes in other OECD nations are obvious since the 2008 ‘Lehman Shock’ but Japan is still lingering in that terrible situation of ‘no economic growth, increasing its dept only.’ 

The Economist, as always, is pointing out the important issues clearly in its article of August 19th ‘Watching China whizz by’ (Click here for Japanese translation of the article). Views of Professor Ishikura, one of my friends, appear in the article, too.  As I say, larger corporations can not make decisions or is late when they do.  As the article points out, big companies are basically all the same in their conducts, our government does not dare to let incompetent companies down so it makes many ‘Zombie companies’ surviving.  This will discourage new enterprises to emerge.  Don’t they realize that the market and business of the world has changed drastically?   We are now in the age of ‘Demand-driven、Open and Disruptive Innovation.’

Anyway, as you see in the chart in The Economist the rate of growth of economy in China is extraordinary.

Not knowing your partners, not having multitudes of networks of friends of long time in growing developing nations can constitute big handicaps for our future growth.  Just to give you an idea, for example, the estimated growth rate of the whole Africa is 5.6%.  What are your business strategies?

Youths in Action – A New Project By Grameen and Japanese Youths


As I have reported to you several times in this website, the very first project run by Japanese kicked off by the initiatives of Mr. Saisyo and other students of Waseda University (they are currently on the leave of absence of course) and Grameen Bank, Bangladesh.

The name of the project is “‘The Dragon Cherry Blossoms‘ of the poorest country in Asia” (in Japanese) e-education program.

As you see in the blog of Mr. Saisyo (in Japanese), the Asahi Shinbun newspaper published an article on this in Japan.  A series of coverage is also scheduled to appear on ‘Soto Koto’ magazine.  The first report (in Japanese) was already published.  Do you see how hard they are working?  I am very pleased.  Please support them in any way you can.

They have taken the students of the village on a bus to see the Dhaka University campus ? a 7 hours travel.  I think this sort of ideas and actions will never occur  unless you actually live at the place and think locally.  According to the e-mail and photos from Mr. Saisho (in Japanese);

“Yesterday, I took the village high school students to a study tour to Dhaka University.  This idea came because I saw the students having hard time trying to imagine themselves ‘entering Dhaka University’.  ‘We might as well take them to the place! ‘ that was the concept of this plan.”
“ ‘It was my lifetime experience!!!’ was their reaction.  The tour was a huge success.”

Was Saisyo-kun’s report.

What kind of experience was this to the village children, parents, or villagers?  Of course this will, I would say, eventually affect the way Dr. Yunus and the people at the Grameen Bank see Japanese young students and people.

This is a good example of the basic concept of Citizen Diplomacy.  Universities, not to speak of companies, have responsibilities to support and encourage such youths.  This sort of activities of private sector will be a good brand toward the future. Sucn activites of private sector are indeed ‘social enterprises’, the ‘strategic investments’.  We don’t necessarily have to depend on governments.  After all, how could we depend on grown up people who almost automatically respond by excuses saying ‘A good idea, but not possible to do because,,,’ , ‘we don’t have budgets….’, or rely to that never changing education policies? We should rather think and come up with ideas on how to support these activities by the youth.  The last thing we need to do is to discourage the ambitions of the youths (Ref.1).


Japan-Korea Exchange, Happy Gatherings


Speech by President Lee on August 15th was for about 20 minutes.  Regarding the relations with North Korea the President expressed 3 strategic steps of partnerships based on ‘Peace’, ‘Economy’, and ‘Korean Reunion’.  I would like to read it if English and/or Japanese translations of the full text were available.

During my stay at Seoul, I was given lots of opportunities to meet people.  To my lecture at the Seoul National University, my old and new colleagues in nephrology, the science of kidney, gathered on the occasion and Dr. Narry Kim (Ref.1,2) a L’Oreal Prize Laureate of the year 2008 kindly came to the confenerce.

In the evening of 13th, the day I arrived at Seoul, I had dinner with Dr. Ju (Ref.1) whom I have introduced to you before.  Dr. Sumio Ishida, the specialist of the history of medicine in Korea (Dr. Ishida has many writings on the history of medical educations in The Netherlands and Korea) and Professor Lee, Heung-Ki (who studies history of hospitals in Korea at the Seoul University) (Dr. Lee’s photo is uploaded at the top of the previous column posting) also gathered and we all celebrated the happy reunion.  Dr. Ju is now 89 years old, but he is still very clear-headed; a truly wonderful person.
In the evening of August 15th, we invited a Korean female sophomore student of Waseda University who is currently spending her summer vacation with her family in Seoul.  She used to live in Japan until 5 years old because of her parents’ work and her Japanese is impressive.  Her older brother is studying in Canada.  She is very focused about her career goal and told me that she chose Waseda because of that goal.  She was selected to be a recipient of the scholarship (in Japanese) offered this July by the alumna of Waseda University  (in Japanese). I was very delighted to learn this good news.  I would like to see more and more of such mutual exchanges of young students to take place.

In the morning of 16th, the last day, I came across by chance with Dr. Tsutomu Nakada (in Japanese)(Ref.1) at the Executive Lounge of the Hotel.  I talk to him once in a while over a telephone but he happened to arrive at Seoul the day before yesterday and was leaving for Japan today.  What a coincidence!  This kind of unexpected encounter is apparently one of the hidden pleasures of traveling.  We enjoyed a brief catch ups.

Lunch was with Dr. Han Seung-Soo.  Dr. Han had been appointed to a series of ministers of the Government of Korea, is well known in international arena, was President of the 56th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (on the very morning of his inauguration ceremony the September 11 happened in NYC….), was a Professor of the Seoul National University.

Dr. Han Seung-Soo published a book ‘Beyond the Shadow of 9/11’  which records one year of his experience as the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations.  This book is a very impressive work which I highly recommend especially to those who seek careers in diplomacy or United Nation and other international istitutions.

Japan and Korea are neighbors.  We share and have long history of deep relations in various fields such as economy, politics, and culture….for over 1,500 years.  We are the most important partner to each other in this globalizing world.  To perceive whatever issue as ‘two neighbor nations in a big framework of the world that is changing dramatically’ and to think accordingly is crucially necessary and important.

This was also one of main messages of my lecture at the Seoul National University which I have reported to you in my previous posting.

From Seoul


I came to Seoul on 13th.

I was invited to give a special lecture on August 14th in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Kidney Group at the Seoul National University (Ref.1Medical Research Center.  Such invitation must be accepted by all means.  This kind of gathering is very important.

This year happens to be the 100th year of Japan’s annexation of Korea.  14th being the last day of ‘Independence, Liberation’ in light of the Declaration of Surrender of Japan that took place in August 15th, 65 years ago,  Korean people celebrate August 15th annually as ‘Restoration of the Light Day’ (Gwangbokjeol) 

In my lecture on 14th, I included some comments about these two days (14th and 15th).  I also stressed especially, as always, the importance of human resource development which is the challenge of the global age, expressed further my views, introduced the works of Dr Gozo Sato (Ref.1) in the field of medical education in modern Korea, and concluded with some thoughts on our responsibilities as University Faculties.

I think my lecture was well accepted since many people told me that they were happy to have learned to see things in broader perspectives.  I was also fortunate enough to see several of my old friends.

So here I will post the text of my lecture and Power Points (part1 and part2) for your reference.  Please take a look.

Out to the Expanding Blog Network of the World


Basically, I write my Blog postings in both Japanese and English.  Without English, this Blog would belong to only 2% of the people in the world and although my main target is the Japanese people, I believe that many of my messages have relevance to the world, and to Japan..

Sometimes I receive comments from overseas.

Among them was a recent e-mail inviting me to link to one Blog.  I imagine that this could be partly because postings from Japan are not many.  Understanding that their site is well known, I was happy to accept this invitation.  They seem to choose which of my postings they will link to their site, a good thing.

This is my site in their Blog.  How much increase in hits will this link bring?  I look forward to finding it out.


‘Because This is the Time of Uncertain Future, Be More Courageous’


I often hear people say that young people today are not interested in going abroad.  I sometimes feel that way, too.

However, did those older people who blame the young go abroad by their own will?  I suppose many of them did. But on the other hand I think many ‘had’ to go, or were ‘sent’, for business.  Such was the historical background of their time when Japan was growing in high speed.

In these 20 years, the world has changed dramatically.  I have been telling you about this over and over again.

In this column, please allow me to introduce you (since this is somewhat personal) a recent article about myself which appeared in the ‘Nikkei Business’ as part of the advertisement essay series ‘Clef de Temps’ titled ‘Because This is the Time of Uncertain Future, Be More Courageous’  (in Japanese).
The essence of this essay is basically the same as what I wrote in ‘How to Build a Global Career’, a book with Prof. Yoko Ishikura, or what I repeatedly write in this blod postings.  However I am impressed with the way this essay is written – a professional stylish writing.

The world trend difficult to forecast, sluggish situation of Japan economy, rapidly changing world.  ‘Secluded, insular minded’ Japan.

Well, we can begin with having some courage and ‘going outside, abroad’(Ref.1,2).  Especially while you are still young.

Will ‘Japanese common sense’ still work when you are ‘out’ abroad?  You will be able to see, know, feel yourself and Japan much better there.  You will find much, much broader possibilities, different values.  Nobody is sure about what will happen in the future.

Also, I recommend that you listen to the speech by Steve Jobs of Apple, the creator of iPad, at the commencement ceremony of Stanford University.

Activating Intellectual Property of BioScience and Tech in Universities; Can We Succeed?


Although countless problems are still to be solved, attempts to make use of intellectual properties accumulated in university and research institutions will get started.  This is good.  This is an effort to build functional structures that are attractive to enterprises.  There are still, however, many problems and challenges along the way enough to cause you a headache…..

I joined the press conference (in Japanese) in August 6th with my colleagues.

Scientists, engineers tend to draw a big picture or expectations from their own findings or inventions, thinking and sensing somewhat in a linear, direct goals.  It is only natural that they do so and there is nothing wrong about it.

However, people who are not scientists or engineers would often think about these findings or outcomes in relations to other ‘idea/information’ and sometimes better ‘idea/information’ emerge from such thinking.  In Japanese, we express this phenomenon as; ‘Okame Hachimoku (Onlookers can read the game (far) better than the players themselves)’ (in Japanese).  Many examples of Okame Hachimoku are found in history.

After all, it is private sector and enterprizes which deliver new services and products from inventions and discoveries to customers, thus create new market. Scientists or engineers can not do this. Of course, there are always exceptional scientists and engineers who also succeed in business, but they are exceptions. 

The new combination – ‘Neues Kombinazion’ as Schumpeter put it - is precisely what creates new values.  This is precisely the ‘innovation’ that Schumpeter talks about.

Clayton Christensen, as you know, is today’s guru of Innovation.  Especially, ‘Disruptive Innovation’ is the core of his outstanding research.  His analysis, insights, views…everything in his books are extraordinary.  More recently, he writes on education and health care, too.

I think many businessmen read ‘The Innovator’s Dillemma’, another well known book, a bit older, but a classics, published about 10 years ago.