The Job Fair in Boston: An e-mail from a local observer


On October 20th I reported about the job fair in Boston for Japanese companies to recruit bilingual (English and Japanese) young professionals.

In this regard, I received an e-mail from someone who had been at the Forum both this year and last year. The person said this year’s experience was completely different from last year’s.

The person wrote the following: “I was astonished. By just strolling along the streets of Boston, I felt that something was different from last year.

“I thought that this Job Forum was a U.S.-Japan Career Forum, focused on English-Japanese bilingual professionals. But, throughout the city I saw mostly Chinese and Korean people carrying plastic bags distributed at the Job Forum.  I even saw some Western people, which made me think that this Job Forum has now become a place for Japanese enterprises to recruit professionals from all over the world.  I was told that these non-Japanese people do not necessarily speak Japanese.
“I had an opportunity to listen to a Japanese person who had interviewed with some companies. This person said, ‘there was a time when it seemed that I was the only Japanese in the interviewees’ lines.’  Given this information, I think that current companies are shifting their recruitment strategy; from limiting to Japanese students studying abroad, to accepting any good talents regardless of their nationalities.

“I also talked with one of the people in charge of recruiting the students. When I asked what was his/her impression of this year’s Job Forum was, the person replied that the overall preference was changing from hiring Japanese to hiring non-Japanese.

“Apparently going abroad and broadening one’s views is not enough any more.  Companies are seeking people who are capable of enhancing ‘their own unique talents’, and this trend is getting stronger every year. Which means, it seems to me, that the key word is probably not ‘quantity’ but ‘quality’.  Recent Japanese media seem to be concerned only about the number of students studying abroad, but we have to understand that ‘the issue is not about numbers but about what students do with their life after going abroad.”

The observations from this individual are very important and valuable information to us.  However, though this impression is based on the Job Forum itself, we also have to consider extending those observations outward toissues existing in Japan regarding conventional Japanese employment and working style.

In Japan, University of Tokyo is regarded as the top university. But let’s admit that the students are selected by just one entrance examination: the T-scores.  What we should really care about is how to help students discover their potentials, and nurture their unique talents while they are within the university to become true assets of our society. In other words, we must be able to distinguish between between the person who ends in Todai, with the person who starts from Todai. (in Japanese)

Furthermore, we must admit that it is not good to linger on the conventional habits of companies providing informal employment offerings exclusively to students in the 3rd year of college, or of limiting recruitment to newly graduated students only.  Also, we need to closely monitor how the companies, especially the top ones, treat those bilingual talents after they are hired.

Students and youth, I want you to know that confining yourself within Japan will not broaden your perspectives for your future.  Why not collect your courage and take a leave of absence from school (Ref.1, 2). Go abroad for a while. Explore for even a few months. By doing so, there is a good chance for tapping new potential and talent within you. Taking time to travel more extensively -  maybe for about the length of a year – to broaden your perspective and refine who your are is so important.

Youths’ futures lay ahead of them.  I don’t see any promising future in any Society or Nation that is not willing to carefully and patiently nurture its younger generation.  Elders must encourage and support youth. They must refrain from oppressing their future by getting in their way.  There are no excuses for interrupting a young person’s potential. That you are older or wiser should only be an excuse to withhold your meddling and to support from a distance by encouraging exploration of opportunities.

The See-D and D-lab Activities Continue


Previously, I introduced the event called ‘Technologies Appropriate to Local Needs Will Save the World’ . It was held in July by the students’ initiatives of D-Lab at MIT and Kopernik, (in Japanese).

Their activities later developed into sending students to East Timor in order for them to see the place firsthand -  to feel the situation, identify the issues, search for solutions, and craft plans for possible projects.  The results of their observations and analyses were displayed and presented at GRIPS, my home institution, on October 22nd.

Participants commonly reacted with surprise to experiences in East Timor.  Much of this reaction was reflected in their work. They described the proposed projects with strong emotion ? with a passionate drive to introduce solutions to the issues they observed.

To have a discussion about their plans was part of their objectives and was also included in this event. Together, with the participation of commentators and Professor Yonekura of Hitotsubashi University (Ref.1), an avid supporter of this sort of activity, triggered not only great excitement, but also materialized great learning opportunities to all who participated.

A review  of this gathering is available at Kopernik, and ‘here’ (in Japanese) and ‘here’ (in Japanese)

Like the lively discussion that took place at this conference, I advocate for analyzing ideas in a serious but positive manner. Where there is room for support or opinion do so cautiously. Give constructive criticism that encourages the students to further think about the problems and tasks at hand. Refrain from merely providing the solution, especially since you don’t know if different sorts of creative solutions will emerge from those students, youth, or young professionals.  Provide support, but without too much meddling.  And most importantly, never discourage the youth. If you do so, the only service you will provide is to chill their passion. Encourage youth by helping them see for themselves the world around them. Be silent but strong for them, and remember that our future lies in their hands.

As for the young individuals you gathered in the conference room to discuss East Timor, each and every one filled to the rim with passion for what they spoke about. We need this sort of energy to be felt more.


Hot Youths Helping Themselves to Create Careers


As I have written on many occasions, today’s Japanese youth is not in as bad of a place as you think (Ref.1). They are just perceiving the world differently from conventional Japanese views, and therefore are taking courses of action that diverge from traditional paths.

I hope you remember Mr. Saisyo (in Japanese), a Waseda University student who took leave of absence from school and founded the ‘Dragon Cherry Blossoms E-education’ in collaboration with Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. I have great respect for his work and so I’ve written about his story and his progress in many different entries (Ref.1, 2). 

After being on ‘sabbatical’ for two years, he has returned to school. To hold his place, Waseda charged him 100,000 yen (1,200 dollars) for each year of absence.  I do not agree with this policy. It seems to me the University should encourage such experience by reducing the tuition. Still, Mr. Saisyo’s friend, Mr. Miyoshi (in Japanese), is now traveling around the world to discover his passion for the thing he really wants to do in his life.

I spoke with Mr. Saisyo soon after he returned to Japan. I listened to the difficulties he faced, learned of all the plans he worked on, and discovered how though his work was very challenging, the tasks were extremely rewarding. He also told me that after spending 2 years in Bangladesh, he is able to see that the focus and seriousness between the teachers and the students at Waseda is severely lacking.

Recently, I introduced another group, Mr. Matsuda  (in Japanese) (Ref.1) of ‘Learning For All’  (in Japanese) and Ms. Muto, a proxy for Mr. Fukazawa, the secretary-general, to speak at a 2 hour meeting hosted by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology).

 They spoke about a new organization that will appear in Japan soon. ‘Learning For All’ is a new project in Japan that is a prerequisite to associate with ‘Teach for America’, a highly respected organization  amongst American college graduates of which I wrote about 2 years ago.  Teach for America is a body of outstanding college graduates from all different backgrounds. They commit to two years of teaching in urban and rural public schools of underprivileged communities of USA, abecoming leaders and broadening opportunity for themselves as well as for the students they teach.  Still in it’s infancy, Mr. Matsuda and his colleagues plan to test and prepare the details and operations of ‘Learning for All’ for two years before making ‘it a public opportunity in Japan.

In the beginning of the meeting, the officers at MEXT were curious about many things. In particular, they wanted to know why Mr. Matsuda began such a project and how it could be funded.  But as they listened to Mr. Matsuda, they gradually understood his passion and the deep implications such an organization could have on the Japanese youth and education.  I felt this visit very worthwhile.  Thank you all for your time and commitment.

As adults, it is our responsibility to help youth with dreams and passion explore as many paths as possible and to alleviate whatever obstacles might be in their way  They will benefit from our helpful guidance, but to block their way is a sin.  Big cheers to all the youth!!  I ask you all to please join me in supporting them in becoming diverse and impassioned. . They are our only future.


Welcoming Mr. Kohei Nishiyama at the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus


This semester, I am conducting a course on ‘Innovation in Globalization’ at Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus. (Ref.1)

As I have previously reported here, I recently was traveling outside Japan for a duration of two weeks. Because of this, Dr. William Saito  and Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama (in Japanese) kindly helped me with my course and delivered exciting lectures to the class in my absence.  Just after the October 13th class, I called from Seattle and thanked them.

This week, on October 20th, my guest was Mr. Kohei Nishiyama of Elephant Design.  He delivered  a very stimulating lecture about his business and on how he founded such an innovative enterprise that incorporates unique global vision and processes.

If you are interested in hearing this lecture or another from previous weeks, all of the lectures from my class are online in Japanese. They have all been extremely informative and I recommend that you take time to watch them.
・ Dr. William Saito
・ Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama
・ Mr. Kohei Nishiyama

After class that day, I went to PASONA’s head office in Tokyo to give a lecture at the joint session by Osaka University Graduate School and PASONA Career Juku.  This was again a very exciting session.  Mr. Nanbu, the CEO of PASONA, is a wonderful business leader.  He designed a program to support young professionals find jobs by providing them opportunities to learn business skills through hands-on experience.  By providing such opportunities, Japanese youth gain invaluable knowledge about what they want to do in their professional life. It is important to participate in this sort of activity in anyway possible.

Supporting and encouraging Japanese youth to build their careers is crucial for the Nation to prosper.  Elders must never try to discourage youths from dreaming. The more repressed children and students are, the less chance there is of this portion of our population to reach their full potential. If a country is dominated by adults who only want to fit youth into a preconceived box, limiting opportunity and growth, then the future of the country will not be promising.

So I encourage you all to invest in our young people.

Boston Career Forum: Companies in Japan Recruit Japanese Bilingual Professionals


In Boston, on October 22-24 Japanese companies will hold a Job Fair to recruit bilingual (Japanese and English) young professionals. For 20 years this event has supported people dedicated to their goals, believing that where there is a need, there is a business.

Their invitation reads as follows;
? 130 companies and institutions will gather for 3 days from October 22nd (Fri) to 24th (Sun) to recruit university students, graduate school students, researchers, and professionals from all over the world.
? While we understand that many of you plan to remain in universities as researchers or faculties, many top companies in and outside of Japan gather here to offer variety of positions not only to new graduates but also to people in specialized fields, engineers, and researchers.
? This Forum is a great opportunity for those who consider working for private companies as part of their career.
? We have travel scholarship for participants who are traveling from long distance.  Please check the web site below for information and registration.
? It is a great pleasure for us to offer you variety of career information and opportunities.

The list of participating companies and information on travel scholarship are posted on the website.  Similar events are also held in London, Tokyo (Summer and Winter), and Los Angeles this year.

A little more about the event:

What have some of the outcomes of Job Forum been over the past 20 years?  How have the jobs been of the people who found opportunities through the event? Just recently I heard that even now, Japanese companies have had young non-Japanese professionals sit idle at their desks everyday from 9am to 5pm in order to “get them used to the Japanese business system” rather than utilizing their talents or qualifications.  This is hard to imagine but it happens.

Excluding Western companies, I am curious how these companies have treated people and whether those people have been held outside the standard “seniority-based promotion system”. Or, were these talented people subjected to those rules, where time spent in employment counts more than your performance?  I hope not!

I understand that it is a very difficult time now for students in Japan to find jobs.  People have different views on this issue, perhaps believing that education’s sole purpose should be to enter directly into the work force. But I think what we need now is to broaden basic awareness.  I wonder what Japanese companies expect of students. Ater they have made informal offers to students during their third year at university, how do they expect the students to spend rest of their college career?  Are they expecting them to start preparing for the new job?  Do they expect them to stop exploring their interests? I certainly hope not!

I hear that even at the University of Tokyo, the parents accompanying students to the graduate school education briefing demand explanations and methods on how their children should find employment after graduation. (in Japanese). What kind of society is this?  Both parents and students are lingering to other people’s support.  They are by no means independent, self supporting individuals.  Regarding this issue, I recommend reading the blog posting (in Japanese) by Professor Iiyoshi of MIT who specializes in education and authored ‘Learning by the Web (Web de Manabu).  We must recognize that the Japanese society of ‘life long employment and huge pensions” is quite over.

The media reports that the number of researchers studying abroad is also declining (in Japanese), (and I intend to analyze this on another occasion…).  In the meantime, I think it is a good option for young people today to go abroad for higher (graduate school) education and to pursue careers showcased in overseas recruitment seminars as I have introduced to you above.

The younger you are, the more potentials and options you have for your future.

‘Because This is the Time of Uncertain Future, Be More Courageous’ is my message to you.


GLOBE Live 2010


'GLOBE'  is an eight-page long special brochure created by the Asahi Shinbun, a widely distributed newspaper.  Twice a month on Monday mornings these stylish brochures appear and cover various topics of the world. As you have read in one of my posts on GLOBE (Ref.1, 2), I was invited to write some articles for them.

The title of my article was "Why University of Tokyo is Poor in Producing Nobel Laureates – Blame Goes to the Easy Going Conditions of the '4 Lines Professors' " (in Japanese) . The  term '4 lines professors' seemed to have been a catchy expression, and the editor received many comments from the readers.  However, my primary message was to 'Make the Best Use of Human Resource' – one of my core themes which I have been writing about repeatedly in my website.

Another nice thing about the 'GLOBE' is that everything is On-line. (in Japanese)

On Sunday, October 17th, I was invited to 'GLOBE LIVE 2010' (in Japanese) held in Tokyo to celebrate its 2nd anniversary (the 1st anniversary took place in Nishinomiya, the western part of Japan…).  The venue was packed with guests.

The programs were fantastic (in Japanese); the guests were interviewed, there was a performance on the piano by Mr. Takatsugu Muramatsu, (Ref.1 in Japanese) and during intermissions, songs were sung by Ms Miu Sakamoto.  The  interviews started with myself, followed by people such as Mr. Atsushi Ogata,  a multi talented film director 、Mr. Dai Fujikura (Ref.1), a composer, Mr. Steve Yamaguchi, (in Japanese), (Ref. 1 in Japanese), (Ref.2) , Ms. Sakie Akiyama (in Japanese),   (Ref.1 in Japanese), (Ref.2),  Mr. Hiroshi Watanabe  (I have introduced him to you as one of the '7 samurais') . It was a breathtaking list of talents of which I am humbled to have been included.  These people are all introduced in the GLOBE, so please see their web site.  The host of this event was Ms. Maki Nomura of Asahi Television (in Japanese) ,and editors of GLOBE, Asahi Newspaper.

Overall, the production was conducted nicely and with good tempo. I fully enjoyed this event.  Thank you to all who participated.

(I removed the sentence about the reception because it seemed “anti-climactic and to derail attention from the event itself)

Below are some of the blogs commenting on this event. 

It would be great to have English version On-line report on 'GLOBE LIVE 2010' .  I am looking forward to seeing it.



Speech on Healthcare Policy


My reports are somewhat delayed than usual, but I have returned home on October14th from a slightly long travel which started on 5th.

Next day in the morning, at the Denmark Embassy in Tokyo, I gave speech on ‘Healthcare Policy for the Aging Society’ to the audience of about 30 or so of legislators and other members of Denmark’s delegate visiting Japan.  I was told that  Ambassador Melbin  (Ref.1) and the audience enjoyed my speech.  (by the way, around April or so, I went to see the Ambassador to talk about the World Cup; and, of course, the Japan-Denmark match….)  The discussions in Seattle turned out to be very helpful in preparing my speech.

After leaving the Denmark Embassy, I headed to Haneda airport to fly to Matsuyama.  The Panasonic Shikoku in Matsuyama is focusing on healthcare and they asked me to speak on topics on ‘Healthcare Policy for the Aging Society’.

I was being so focused on this theme for these days, so I was able to learn much from these events, and also was able to develop new ideas.
Developed countries share common challenges; ‘1. Continuing growth of the aging society, 2. Chronic diseases as a major disease burden, and 3. Public funding for healthcare being hard to increase’.  I have written about the framework of my ideas in many occasions, and my view remains essentially the same as of today.  What I think is uploaded in recent On-line article of Nikkei (in Japanese), so please have a look.

These are without doubt one of the top priorities of political issues today.


The 100th Anniversary of the Swedish Hospital in the beautiful City of Seattle


Recently, I have posted a series of reports from Seattle. The distinguished Swedish Medical Center (SMC), one of the oldest organizations in Northwestern America, invited me to participate in their 100th Anniversary celebratory Symposium (Ref.1)at the Bell Harbor Conference Center.  Since I have been interested in their activities for quite some time and the proposed program was quite impressive, I thought this was a good opportunity to experience SMC first hand. The overall theme was local health care systems, particularly in the Northwest regions of America. Experts in various fields joined to speak about their experiences so that they might apply their findings to the ailing American health care system.

The Symposium opened with these videos (Ref.1). I had the pleasure of being seated at the same table as Ms. Lisa Cohen, the Executive Director of the Washington Global Health Alliance and who appeared in the latter video. We spoke and found we had several friends in common. I enjoyed our conversation immensely and discovered that apparently she began her career as a journalist.  

Each person was wonderful in his or her own way. Aside from those in my field of medicine and health care, I was particularly impressed by Mr. Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric. There were also two congressmen from Seattle who appeared in the panels, Dr. Jim McDermott (Ref.1,2) and Mr. Jay Inslee(Ref.1). Their speeches were very inspiring and innovative.

I found the lectures so intriguing that I ask the organizers of the Symposium to let me know when the rest of the lectures are available on the web.  I would very much like to share them with my friends and the visitors of my web site.   The photos from the Symposium is uploaded on the web already.

There were many debates and conversations had throughout the Symposium, and though there were many things discussed, there were twelve ideas that seemed to be more or less ubiquitously agreed upon. 

Because the Symposium was located along the waterfront of downtown Seattle, I was able to take short walks between sessions. Luckily, the weather was bright and sunny. I enjoyed the views of the Puget Sound, and of the Olympic Mountains. I also stopped by the original Starbucks in Pikes Place Market. I also stopped in at the Seattle Aquarium and saw a variety of fish (I happen to quite like aquariums).  Also, as reported in my previous postings, I met several Japanese students (Ref.1,2) who took leave of absence from school and are currently studying in Seattle. Over the course of two evenings we had a wonderful time together during dinner.   In closing, I found Seattle a beautiful and tranquil city.

‘Recommendation to Take Leave of Absence from School’, Seeing Students….’, A Follow Up of Follow Up from Seattle


Today is the last day in Seattle.  I found an e-mail message when I returned to my hotel room from the meeting.  It was from the senior student at Keio SFC (Ref.1) who is now studying at ISAYA, University of Washington  for a semester of 6 months.

The message went as follows;

? “How do you do?  I am a senior student at Keio University SFC.  Please forgive me for this abrupt contact.
? I am currently studying at University of Washington in Seattle, taking a leave of absence from school.  To my regret, I was not able to join the dinner you had because I did not find your message in twitter early enough.
? If you plan to have another such gathering, I would very much like to join.“

So, I quickly responded by e-mail; ‘I am having dinner with your ‘senior’, a Keio alumnus, so why not join?’; ‘Thank you. My class will be over in an hour, so I would be happy to join you then..’

It took a while for him to come because he took a bus, but he managed to arrive in time to the Waterfront Seaffod Grill  His ‘senior’ whom I mentioned, is Dr. Kubota, the founder of a Biotech Venture ‘ACUCELA’, formerly an ophthalmologist graduating from Keio University School of Medicine.  Another guest is Ms Claire Topal  of ‘National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR)',  an organization that started in Seattle, whom I have been working with for these 4 years.

Just as we were having a good lively conversation in Seattle, in Japan, my course at the Keio SFC was being held.  Today, the guest is Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama, well known for his open and frank remarks such as in his books; ‘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)’.  I made a phone call to find out how things were going at the class, thanked Mr. Toyama over the phone and we had a good conversation.  Truly, the world is one world, and things are getting so convenient.  Lectures in my course are posted on this web site for free viewing.

I advise you all to go ‘out’ of Japan, just as this student at Keio did.  Something good will happen.


“‘Recommendation to Take Leave of Absence from School’, Seeing Students….”, A Follow Up from Seattle


In my last posting, I have reported to you about seeing and having dinner with three Japanese students in Seattle.

Two of them posted columns about our dinner on their blogs.  They even had photos uploaded.

I will introduce to you their blogs here for you to take a look; Ms. Tomo and Mr. Miyamoto  (both blogs are in Japanese).

I could see from the students’ comments  (in Japanese) that Japanese universities, probably because of lack of experience, are having a bit of difficult time trying to organize the procedures for student’s taking leave of absences.  However, if more students go on to file in the applications, I think university administrations will eventually learn to handle them more efficiently.

By the way, it seems that quite many private universities charge considerable amount of tuitions even while the students are on leave.  This is stupid.  Universities are halls of education more than anything else.  I strongly wish such weird thing as putting the cart before the horse to be stopped.

The objective of education is, after all, to encourage the youths to seek their potentials, and to support their future.  It is a pleasure and a vitalizing experience for me to read the writings of the students who are currently on leave of absence, as those whom I have introduced to you today.