From Singapore


Click here for photos of Marina Bay Sands Resort

I left STS Forum in Kyoto early in the morning of October 5th, made a brief stop at my home, and arrived at GRIPS early in the afternoon.  There, I had a good conversation over various topics with Dr. Han Seung-Soon, the former prime minister of Korea, whom I have met in Seoul just recently.  Then, I took a train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport, arriving at Singapore at around midnight.

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Next morning was a board meeting of A*STAR . The discussion was heated from beginning to the end until the meeting closed after lunch.  This board is working quite vibrantly actually.  Budgets are allocated to make Singapore more competitive in science, technology and research, to build new opportunities ? very constructive and active.  A*STAR is also planning a collaboration with Universities in Iran, in order to develop further exchanges of talented students.  Another project is the Liberal Arts course that has a full boarding system which will be offered in collaboration with Yale University.  In short, they are so dedicated to nurturing global talents.  It is a common sense, so to say, that ‘Nurturing Human Talents is the Base of Building of a Nation’ (in Japanese), but it seems quite different in a country who knows where. The problem is that adults, the grown-ups, are ‘closed minded’, and that will make it difficult for our nation to address problems we are expected to face in this rapidly ‘flattening age of globalization’.

Late in the afternoon, we visited the ‘Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Resort’.  First thing to do was to see the fantastic view from the top of the building, looking down the course of F1 autorace track that took place just recently, Marina Barrage  where I had been not so long ago, and right beyond the ocean lies Malaysia and Indonesia so closely.  The premise is a combination of three 57 stories high buildings, with hotel, condo, major convention facility, casino, etc. and a 150 meters swimming pool on the top of the building. The view is just breathtaking.  Elevators moves up and down in high speed ?very fast- but motions are almost unnoticeable.

Its grand scale, however, is not the only thing that impresses us.  Prices are also soaring high; Hotel, Condo (still some vacancy…), Casino (sheer admission cost 85 dollars), and practically anything.  After the tour, I had a nice cheerful dinner with other members of the board.

I recommend that you visit this Sands Hotel and Resort if you have an opportunity.

After returning to the Hotel, I spent about 2 hours with Professor Ito, who has been working vibrantly at Singapore for about 10 years, Professor Yamamoto, new member of NUS faculty, and Dr. Steve Chu, a member of the board of UCLA.  I have known Professor Ito since he was at Kyoto University, but he moved to Singapore after retirement from Kyoto, and was awarded President’s Science Award this year.   I congratulate him for this great achievement.  We are so proud of him.

Why don’t more professors of Japanese universities broaden their world and go out to spread their field of activities instead of sticking around universities even after their retirement, I wonder?  Recently, it seems that many accomplished professors stay at universities taking advantage of their uiversities being Independent Administrative Institutionization (Dokuritsu Hojinn).  This would cause less room availabilities, and I feel sorry for young people.  Yet, more ‘adults’ and ‘professors’ complain that youths today are not passionate about going abroad.  This is a problem.  Mind you, young people are quite aware that their seniors are not being consistent in their words and actions.

Tomorrow, a car will pick me up at 5:15 am to take me to the airport.  I will fly for Toronto from here.