Mr. Jun Kurihara of Harvard Kennedy School


I have introduced to you for a couple of times in my blog postings Mr. Jun Kurihara, Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School (Ref.1).

He is also a research director of The Canon Institute for Global Studies , hops around the world, and issues ‘The Cambridge Gazette’ in nearly monthly bases.  As you have read in my previous posting about him,  this Gazette is quite good in a sense that you can intuitively sense his broad human network as well as his intellects.

Mr. Kurihara dropped by at my office when he visited Tokyo recently and we had a good time together.  I felt honored to find his comments on our meeting in his latest issue of ‘The Cambridge Gazette’.  As always, this Gazzette is also filled with evidence of his deep knowledge and broad human network.

‘A person like myself would be difficult to be accepted in Japanese institutions.  I think that is why things are like this…’ says Mr. Kurihara, but clearly he is a very valuable asset.  I am sure that if we had more of people like him in Japan this nation would be more lively and active.  If ‘Unique human capital’, ‘Nails that stick out (Deru kui)’ are given more and more places to flourish, organizations will gain energy and youths will have good ‘Role models’ which eventually will make them more positive and active. For organizations, it is important to give right person the right place so as to optimize the talents giving them more chances to flourish.

Domestic and international broad connection based on ‘credibility as individual’, like Mr. Kurihara’s, is a huge asset.  The Canon Institute for Global Studies chose a good member.  Without doubt Mr. Kurihara is one of our precious ‘Human capital’ (similar but not the same as the ‘Human resource’) whom no one can exchange with any amount of money.

From ‘Healthcare System’ Reform to ‘Health and Healthcare System’ Reform: My Basic Idea


Healthcare system reform is a huge political issue not only in developed countries but also in emerging or developing countries and in global society.  This is because of the rapid changes taking place in the structure of major diseases based not only on the progress of healthcare technologies but also on the enhancement of life expectancy, changes in social structure and in lifestyle.

In addition many societies share the problem of aging population.  Since public funding for healthcare expenditure is already pretty much to its limit even in developed countries this is another big challenge.  Also it is clear that income inequality within and across the countries continue to expand in this global world.

So, Japan is not the only nation that faces problems related to healthcare.  However, there are some reasons particular to Japan that make system reforms particularly difficult here.

This is one of the main themes that we work on at the Health Policy Institute, Japan.

However, in view of such major changes in our society, it is clear that healthcare system must be structured with more attention to social aspects.  In other words, we must take into consideration ‘Social Determinants of Health’ (Ref.1) in our policy, thus we must create not ‘Healthcare (Medical, in principle) System’ as it is but rather ‘Health and Healthcare System’. Otherwise I suspect that winning public support for policy or its implementation would be difficult.

Here, I will introduce to you my recent interview (in Japanese) reflecting such thoughts.

Same perspective is also expressed in my book ‘University Hospital Reform (Daigaku Byoin Kaikaku)’ (in Japanese).

Ohya Stone Underground Mining Pit Remain, Teleconference with Canada, and To Mishima


In the afternoon of September 24th (Fri.), I headed to Utsunomiya to give a lecture at the Japanese Society of Nephrology Eastern Regional Meeting.  Nephrology had been my main background, so it was nice to see Dr. Kusano, the President, and many colleagues at the venue.

Reception was held at a huge underground hall about 15 minutes’ travel by car from downtown Utsunomiya which was originally remain of a mining pit of Ohya stone (Ohya Ishi).

The place actually had quite a good atmosphere.  I found many photos at the blog site of a person who had been here before. (in Japanese)

Underground was quite cool (around the year average temperature is 8℃ (46F)).  Gyoza, the local specialty, beer, wine were served at the reception as well as the special flamenco show.  We spent a good time.
The schedule of events at this underground space, as I saw it, seemed to have room for more variety of activities.

I suggest that you visit here when you have an opportunity to go to Utsunomiya area.

After returning to the hotel, I participated in a teleconference on Grand Challenge Canada  for two hours from 10pm to midnight.  Toronto served as the hub for this telecommunication.

On the next day, September 25th (Sat.), I returned home briefly and then headed to Mishima city in Shizuoka Prefecture.  This trip was to give a lecture at the Japanese Telemedicine and Telecare Association (JTTA) (in Japanese) organized by Professor Nakajima, who created telemedicine and telecare training program at Tokai University School of Medicine mainly for international students.  I owe Professor Nakajima for his presence at the Pacific Science Association in which I am part of, in Okinawa  and Tahiti  (Ref.1, 2, 3).  By the way, although this meeting displayed a number of interesting corporate exhibitions they seemed somehow to be intended only for Japanese audience (users) from the start.   I think this is a pity since the world is broad and there must exist great needs.

Giving lectures at annual meetings of scientific societies was something I have done less for a while.  I enjoyed and appreciated these opportunities of two days in a row.

‘The Dragon Cherry Blossoms’ in Bangladesh, A Follow Up on GCMP


Grameen Change Makers Program (GCMP) (in Japanese) (Ref.1) is a program launched two years ago in Bangladesh by the students of Waseda University, Mr. Saisyo, Mr. Miyoshi and their friends.  In this program, Mr. Saisyo, currently on leave from Waseda University, set up ‘The Dragon Cherry Blossoms e-education’ project in collaboration with the Grameen Foundation.  (in Japanese) (Ref.1)

Mr. Saisyo encountered many problems and hardships in the process of carrying out this project.  From such experience, he reports, that he organized a 7 hours’ bus tour for the students in this project to see ‘Dhaka University’, the top university of Bangladesh. The objective of this project is to let the poor village high school students challenge this university.  I must say that such kind of idea is not likely to emerge unless you are on the site in person.  Now, I have at hand the latest report-2 describing in detail what actually happened, the background of this tour (in Japanese) as well as the local newspaper coverage. (in Japanese)

In his recent e-mail Mr. Saisyo writes:

‘Now we have only one month to go for the entrance exams of Dhaka University!

Students were very highly motivated after the study tour to Dhaka University. The results of the practice exams are gradually improving.

Currently 23 students are working in this project.

In accordance to the results of Dhaka University practice entrance exams we divided students into 4 groups

Team A, 5 students: Excellent
Team B, 5 students: Good
Team C, women students: 5
Team D, 13 students: Average

Every week the students move up and down among those groups by their test results.  This will lead the students to competition.

Students in AB teams are particularly highly motivated so we say to each other that we actually could expect good results.

I will return to Japan temporarily in early October for some required procedures at Waseda University.  I hope to report to you more when I see you then.’

Anyway, the ideas of this project came from personal experience of Mr. Saisyo, his failure in his high school years and overcoming of the failure.  This process is very important for thinking of and creating plans in the real world.  When we talk about importance of ‘on the site competency’, I think what we are really talking about is the ‘real personal experiences’ as we see in his case.  Things will not be the same if you just sit down and think in your head.

Mr. Miyoshi, on the other hand, has been back again to Bangladesh.  Now, he took off yesterday for another adventure to the world, a journey of self discovery.

Today, we had a gathering of students who have been to Bangladesh this summer to listen to each others’ reports of their experiences.  Although it was a holiday, many youths came as well as the representatives of the supporting companies such as HIS (in Japanese) and Sunstar.  Professor Seiichiro Yonekura of Hitotsubashi University, Dr. Hideo Abe, formerly working for JICA, also participated to make comments on the reports.  We had a wonderful time for 4 hours of Sunday evening..

The students chose their own themes and formed group and worked together to present a project proposal.  I could see that everyone learned a lot from their first hand experience in Bangladesh.  Also, this process itself was a good chance for discovering their ‘self’.  Students, once ‘abroad’, will begin to see and feel themselves as individuals.  This will also lead them to see Japan from outside.  Then, I imagine, they will begin finding and following their mind, heart and intuition, and find what they want to do, how they would choose their career. 

Each student felt that they have changed a lot  (Ref.1)  It is my firm belief that opportunities like this will form ‘dots’ that connect youths to the broad world in building their future career.


Michael Sandel and ‘Learning on Web’: Importance of Asking ‘Why?’


Two things are now hot topics recently and I have introduced them to you in my website postings.  One is‘Justice’ by Professor Michael Sandel (Ref.1) and another is ‘Learning on Web’ (‘web de manabu’ ?a book in Japanese)  written by Mr. Umeda and Dr. Iiyoshi. 

The television program showing Dr. Michael Sandel’s lecture series at Harvard  (On-line viewing is available) gained a tremendous popularity, so much that he was invited to Japan in August.  On the other hand, you could say that this reaction may be typically Japanese.

 ‘Learning on Web’ is likely to receive a big reaction, also.  I see many good comments on the web, blogs and twitter.


Professor Sandel tries to make students ‘question the essence of the issues’ that exist in various examples from every day life and have them think ‘why?’.  And from this process of thinking the students will understand the universal nature of the problems and also unique to each problem, leading students to experience the process of raising philosophical question of ‘What is Justice?’.  I believe this is the reason why the students and viewers of the television broadcast were so ‘intellectually stimulated’ by his lecture series ‘Justice’.  Most people must have felt as if they were awaken because they rarely, if not at all, have shared experiences of ‘thinking by themselves’ in lectures at universities.

Dr. Iiyoshi notices this reasoning process and is commenting on it in his blog. To my delight, he captures my blog comments that I share with him his desire of ‘raising questions’ to people, the desire which he and Mr. Umeda aimed to make clear in this book.  This process has been quite pleasent exchanges to me.

I feel that in our everyday life or in the process of education, the most lacking element is the attitude or habit of constantly asking ‘why?’; ‘teachers and learners’ thinking together, the process which is an attitude more conducive of learning. Generally speaking this process is very weak in Japanese education or trainings in schools, companies or other organizations.  ‘Guidelines’, ‘Textbook authorizations’, tend to prevail.  The same could be said for our laws and we tend to think they are given to us.  ‘Hierarchical’ thinking lies in the basis of everything here, I should say.

In classrooms, typically, things are taught in descriptive style as if the teachers have all the answers.  There are few asking questions together, no thinking together.  Even in higher education (universities) basically what they do is conveying of knowledge.  This is precisely the reason why the lecture of Professor Sandel is so stimulating to many of Japanese.  We have, in Japan, so many ‘How To’ or ‘Know How’ lectures being delivered because of its popularity, but I mind you that the most important thing is to think ‘Why?’

In this open and flattening ‘knowledge society’, you must challenge your thinking by stimulating your intellectual ability and capacity.  Nothing will begin if you will only ‘Wait for Instructions’.  I am certain that Professor Sandel and a book ‘Learning on Web’ are causing so much excitement among (Japanese) people because these two are sending out ‘Intellectual Challenges’ that exist in the minds of everyone of us

‘Learning on Web: Open Education and Revolution of Learning’, A ‘Must’ Book


Dr. Iiyoshi  whom I have introduced to you last year (blog, Ref.1) (in Japanese) and Mr. Umeda  blog) (in Japanese) who is sending out messages from Silicon Valley such as his book ‘Going Through the Web Age (Web Jidai Wo Yuku)’ (by the way, he is also a great writer on shogi game (Japanese chess game))recently co-authored and published ‘Learning on Web (‘Web de Manabu)’ (in Japanese). The book offers lots of ‘eye-opening’ information, very rich in content, and I recommend strongly to all educators and people who are interested in learning or (their) children’s education.

‘Learning on Web’ gives you the idea and sense of how education, starting with the epoc-making OpenCourseWare of MIT (included in the Top50 websites in recent Times magazine), has become ‘Open’, how amazing the speed and power of the trend of the ‘Web age’ is.

As I have been pointing out repeatedly even in many public ‘occasions’  (Ref.1, 2), Internet is a tool that ‘empowers individuals’ with an impact comparable to the printing technology invented by Gutenberg in the 15th century.  Internet enables individuals in broader area to access and/or ‘share’ to broader audience.  It expands globally regardless of country border or time.  Conseqently, new ‘inquiries’ will be raised by many more people, ‘questioning of the (traditional) authorities’ will follow.  Thus, this change continues to move forward but never backwards.  Nations, companies, institutions which fail to adapt itself to this change, or attempts to oppose it will inevitably have to suffer more damages.  I regard this as the essence of ‘globalization’.

iTune, iPod, IPhone, and iPad are some good recent examples.  Just by thinking what industrial sectors resisted, or how these products changed society or the global world, and what eventually became of those resisting power, you will well understand what I mean.
In other words, this ‘Learning on Web’ is not only giving information on the new world changes of education to educators, but also reminding them of their responsibilities and questioning how they performed.

However, if you see this book as ‘empowerment of individuals’, ‘Learning on Web’ is asking actively to all students (recipients of education) and learners (who are willing to learn) what kind of education they want, introducing them to new educational opportunities and tools for learning, possibilities of discoveries that make them better and grow.

Also, I sense in this book a concern for Japan which appears to be resting in isolation from the change of the world.  I imagine that this is because that the two authors have been away from Japan for long years, have built their careers outside Japan as an indepedent individual, and therefore are increasingly becoming frustrated and even sorry  (in Japanese) for closed Japan which remains incapable of changing in this rapidly globalizing world, and also reflect their deep love, ‘patriotism’ (not ‘nationalism’) for Japan.

I recommend this book to all people, a ‘must’ reading to all grown ups who are concerned with education.

By the way, the outline of this book and the points they intended to make are given in the blogs of Mr. Umeda and Dr. Iiyoshi  which I have introduced to you above.  Many of the resource sites introduced in this book are shown in a list in this blog. Even if you do not have the book ‘Learning on Web’ at hand, these blogs will help you visit many valuable sites.

It is wonderful to know that there are so many, many people who are devoted to education and nurturing people of the ‘world’.



‘Beautiful’ Resume


‘Hitotsubashi Business Review’  (in Japanese) is a quarterly magazine read broadly by business people in Japan. Edited by Hitotsubashi University Institute of Innovation Research (Director, Professor Seiichiro Yonekura),  the magazine’s fall issue recently organized a special feature on ‘the 10th anniversary’ of the magazine.  It was my honor to write some of my thoughts to congratulate, together with Mr. Fujio Mitarai, Chairman and CEO, Canon; Professor Ikujiro Nonaka; and Mr. Takuya Iwasaki, Editor in Chief, ‘Diamond Harvard Business Review.

The title of my article is “‘Beautiful’ Resume ("'Utsukushii' Rirekisyo no Jidai")” (in Japanese) . The wording was quoted from a book by Ms. Michi Kaifu  ‘Paradise and Closed Country ? Japan, a Forgotten Great Power (in Japanese, original title ‘Paradise Sakoku- Wasurerareta Taikoku Nippon)’  (Ref.1) (in Japanese). 

Besides the book, Ms. Kaifu is sending out messages actively from Silicon Valley through her blog (in Japanese). What this title means is explained in her book, and by the way, her book is one of my recommended readings because it is filled with good catchy words reaching to the core issues of Japan. 

I borrowed this wording because I thought by this expression Ms. Kaifu beautifully described almost the same idea as what I have been saying, i.e. “build your career by seeing yourself better in the global world through spending some time and competition with peers outside”- you can see your strength and weakness self better and more objectively.

How to build such ‘beautiful’ resumes ? is also the core message of my book with Professor Yoko Ishikura ‘How to Build a Global Career (Sekaikyu Kyaria no Tsukurikara)’.

And examples of how to start this kind of career are to ‘Take a Leave of Absence from School’ , one of my major messages, or the ‘Asian Youths Exchange Program’ in Okinawa.

Our current system of one track career, being promoted step by step within the same organization, starting a career right after university graduation, employment being informally decided at junior year in collage ? the society which take these facts for granted and ‘norm’ should be regarded as ‘outrageous (tondemo)’ career in global and flattening world.  Working lifetime for the same organization must be a choice for ‘the employees’.  However, in government offices and big companies, this single career remains the standard for most people.  Even in universities, where more autonomy and mobility is expected, we see quite a number of ‘Four Lines Biography Professors (yongyo kyojyu, i.e. professors who need only 4 lines for their academic resume staying and being promoted in the same institution)’ (Ref.1) (in Japanese)

Why is it that I (originally in the field of science, an MD) was asked to write for such a ‘business’ magazine?  To be frank I hesitated a bit when I thought about the readers of this magazine, but on the other hand was also pleased.  Perhaps the idea came from Professor Yonekura.  It may be because my philosophy is that whether in business, education, health services, or government, the basics is always ‘B to B’ for all, and ‘how much you are able to see and feel the change’.  In short, my ‘B to B’ is ‘Back to Basics’. The person who continuously emphasizes this principle of ‘Back to Basics’ in business and innovation is Peter Drucker, whom you all know very well.


Meeting of Enthusiastic Youths Who Heard Their ‘Inner Voice’ and Jumped on to Action


Considering how difficult it is to find jobs today, the future of youths seem to be quite unpromising.  There are, however, a small number of grown ups and entrepreneurs working actively to support young people.  The ‘Fresh Career Course’ by Pasona (Ref.1,2)(in Japanese) designed to support new graduates is one of those examples.  I think these actions are wonderful.  I, too, participate as one of the supporting members for such right and compassionate actions.

On the other hand, there are increasing number of young people who have found what they really want to do through ‘on the site experiences’, in search for ways to reach the goals, and stepping forward towards the goal with great effort.  I wish to support them sincerely in my own capacity as I have introduced to you more than several times in my site (Ref.1,2).  
Two days ago I had guests at my office who gathered in spite of the heavy rain we had that day; Ms. Kanae Doi of Human Rights Watch, Mr. Shigeyuki Jo  (in Japanese) of Joe’s Lab, Mr. Yuske Matsuda and Mr. Kota Fukazawa, working hard to get on track their recently founded ‘Learning For All’ (in Japanese) (a group set up in preparation of the Japanese version of ‘Teach For America’ which I have introduced to you in this site 2 years ago ), Mr. Naoto Miyahira  of Soket and his colleague (Dr. Arai of D-Lab Japan).  My intention was to introduce them to each other to have them tell their ‘stories (monogatari)’ so that they may ‘connect’ and ‘expand horizontally’ as they see fit.  I am quite positive that many future-looking enprepreneurial activities will emerge and expand through them.

Youths hear their ‘inner voice’ through their ‘first hand experience’ and then be awakened, filled with passion.  Good examples include Mr. Saisyo and Miyoshi, students of Waseda University (on leave) and their colleagues who are currently working hard in Bagladesh (I have introduced them to you a number of times here (Ref.1) ), senior students who responded to my message of ‘Take Leave of Absence from School’, suspended their job hunting activities, took leave of absence from school and went to Moscow or is going to Ghana next week.

These students have much stronger ‘gut’ or ‘deep inner' feeling of the essence of important matters than most of the grown ups who always respond with ‘Reasons Why Something Cannot Be Done’.

We, the grown ups, should support and encourage those youths, but never interfere or obstract their paths.  This world is changing in a great speed.  The future of the young generation is the top priority for human resource development and the future of Japan.


Hayman Island, ADC Leadership Retreat -2


Please click here for the photos.

The 2nd day at Hayman Island was beautiful.  We should be outdoors in such day.

However, the program was quite packed.  I was scheduled to be at the ‘Kailis Oration’ (Session 6) (cf. the program).  This opening session of Day 2 was again hosted by Nik Gowing.  It was an exciting session starting with questions raised by Bjorn Stigson, the photos linked above which I appear are of this panel (also included are the 2 photos of Nick Stern (facing backwards), myself, and Bjorn Stigson after the panel).

Clyde Prestowitz, whom I met in Tokyo a few weeks ago, is also participating in various discussions starting today.

For lunch session, I joined session 9.5, a panel surrounded by beautiful greens.  Somehow the discussion focused on the issues of Australia.  My colleague William Saito was also on the panel with me.  Chris Selth said that there were few targets for VC, was quite critical in that sense pointing out how dependent Australia was on its rich natural resources for its economic growth…. Then followed the plenary lecture by Richard Wilkinson  (right after session11).  I think that producing such type of academics as Dr. Wilkinson represents one of the strengths of British academic community.
Another session was ‘Cybersecurity’ (session 12.2) hosted by Nik Gowing.  William Saito did a very good job here.

On the 3rd day, 29th, I was especially impressed, among many, by Stephan Bungay in session 16.3, and Bror Saxberg of Kaplan (I felt that the power of the US lies in the fact of having quite a volume of extraordinary, brilliant and ‘crazy’ people like him) in session 17.3 ‘Education futures’ whom I have introduced to you in my last report , and my old friend Jeff West (another brilliant and ‘crazy’) in session 20.3.   These sessions were all very moving and thought provoking.

There were of course many other sessions that I would have liked to join, but as you see from the program, doing so was not easy.

My last appearance in the afternoon was with William Saito at ‘Japan -Perspectives on Change’ (session 19.3).  Australia, the host country, has just gone through the federal election which ended in an unexpected result and people here were talking about it excitedly.  On the other hand our story is; ‘Japan?  Well, we had 5 prime ministers in these 4 years.  Maybe the 6th is coming soon?’ ? isn’t this a bit sad?  I tried to include many comparisons and metaphors to make my points of Japan clearly understandable to non-Japanese intellects; perhaps, I somewhat succeeded since after the session I was told by several people that my discussion was ‘very persuasive, clear, and easy to understand’.  I do think that the current (and even the last 50 years') situation of Japan is difficult to understand if we do not present them in a sound logical manner, focusing to the basic issues and from outside perspective.
The closing ceremony ended by a very moving speech by Michael Roux, the host.

We enjoyed a nice dinner reception in the evening.

I would say that this 3 days’ retreat was a very nice event of a good size which made it possible to share much more intimate time, even more than the World Economic Forum in Davos (which I posted for many years), with truly wonderful participants to exchange different and common views and share new ideas. I was able to see my old friends, make new friends, see ‘great’ people such as those whom I have introduced to you in my report postings ‘1, 2’ and Gita Wirjawan  (Ref.1) of Indonesia.  I learned a lot from each of them.  Also, I was lucky enough to be asked to join in many good sessions in earlier phase (opening panels of day 1 and day 2) so many new friends noticed me from early of this three days Retreat  I sincerely thank Michael Roux for his invitation and thoughtsfullness.


The Economist, Sarcastic But Honest: ‘Food For ‘Zombies’, ‘The Civil Service Serves Itself’


I would say that ‘The Economist’ competes for the 1st or 2nd position as the most widely read weekly magazines in economy.  This magazine even picks up the issues of its home country, Great Britain with plenty of sarcasms, to report to its people and the world what they need to know.  This precisely is the most important and basic mission of journalism, the foundation for its credibility.  The Economist has its own ‘unique, cool’ style in writings, titles, figures and charts which makes it so special and unsurpassable.

Those, I think, are the reasons why The Economist or Financial Times are so highly evaluated, being read by business people throughout the world.  In short, their works are professional.

Japanese journalism is quite different here.  Basically it is rather on the establishment side as you see for example by the system of members only ‘Press Club (Kishya Kurabu)’ and their reports are in large part targeted to Japanese only, i.e. mere 2% of the population of the whole world.  It is a matter of course then that journalism of the ‘global age’ will not develop in such circumstance. I doubt that they (Japanese journalists) have such ambition to be global in the first place.

I have recently introduced to you in my blog one of the articles of The Economist and here I would like to call your attention to a good sarcasm in the article (1) and another in the ‘On-line’ edition (2).

Please refer to the original for the full text but:
In (1), the subtitle is striking; ‘Food for zombies’(click here for Japanese translation of the article). They write how Japanese government endlessly supports not well performing big companies, and new enterprises hardly emerging, so many no-good companies survive, thus only to become ‘zombies’. This is a keen observation which I totally agree.
In (2), the title is; ‘The civil service serves itself’ describing the irresponsible current mechanism and governance of Japanese bureaucrats or civil servants; they enjoy ‘Descent from Heaven (Amakudari).’ Spending huge amounts of public money for themselves.

The world is noticing the reality of Japan.  What will become of our national credibility?

These days politics seems to be occupied with nothing but their struggles within the party.  Our country is having 5 prime ministers in 4 years – an outrageous nation (Tondemo Kokka) – are we going to have the 6th prime minister beginning later this month?

What has become of the elites of ‘intellect’ of this nation (Ref.1); ‘legislators, governments, industries’ and ‘academics’, I wonder?

Don’t they care any more about the people of Japan?

Does Japan now have to head for the crises ?