AIESEC Training Camp


Videos of Opening and Closing Session



This is another posting on AIESEC, an organization that supports international internship s which I wrote about once before.

I was invited to give a speech at their training camp in late December at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Yoyogi.  Over the course of a few days, about 150 people participated.  Supporters from industries included Works Applications; (this is an amazing company, I went to see Mr. Masayuki Makino (Ref.1), the CEO, the other day with Mr. Matsuda of LFA several days before.  I will write more about it in another column.), Tanaka Precious Metals Group; (the price of gold is likely to keep rising), and GRAPH (this is a fun company, too.)

Everybody was in high spirits.  During the speech I tried to make the audience feel free to ask questions and I think it helped because people asled question after question, so much so that the 80 minute session of Q&A flashed by.  After the Q&A, the audience divided into 3 groups and continued the discussion with the 3 guests from the companies mentioned above.

From the start of the New Year, I will be helping AIESEC begin a project to spread their activities to the world.  This year, about 300 people went abroad for training and about 60 people came to Japan.  I must say that this is a complete mismatch.  Although they expect to increase the number to 400 for the people going abroad and to 100 for the people coming here, this is still far from enough.

I am looking forward to helping AIESEC increase its reach, as well as increasing the total number of exchanges for the year 2011.

A Table for Two’s Holiday Season Charity


Have you ever heard of Table for Two (TFT) ?

It originated in Japan.  This idea was developed to make this world a better place.  It links the hunger people in the poor developing parts of the world with the overweight people of developed countries.  TFT is now spreading through the world and the name is gradually gaining recognition.

I have been supporting this project as one of its advisers since its inception.

TFT threw a Charity Party in Aoyama, Tokyo the evening of December 25th.  For many years, I was unable to attend this party but this year I did.  I thought it also a good opportunity to have a reunion with Dr. Kogure, the director.

Dr. Kogure seemed to be in good shape, but he of course has his shares of worries.  The party was packed with lively youth, a very different generation from mine.  Presentations, quiz game that competed between groups (I was in the Rwanda group), and other activities followed one after another to keep the guests entertained.

The party closed with the song ‘We are the World’ (Ref.1) First, a professional singer started, and then we all followed. 

The power of this song is truly amazing.


Time With Youth, The Leaders-To-Be of the World



On December 27th, nearing the end of 2010, I had dinner at Sumeshiya (in Japanese), a rather unique restaurant.  Mr. Honjo  (Ref.1) had returned from his trip to Ghana.   I was invited to this gathering by a businessman who helped him during his stay in there. Mr. Honjo was on leave of absence from Keio University during this trip.

Other participants were Ms. Sasaki, an International Christian University student who spent most of her life outside Japan (Ethiopia, Ghana, UK and US); Ms. Mawarida (Ref.1) (in Japanese) an experienced soccer player, university student, and a professional singer; Ms. Kanno, a businesswomen who is working for a Japanese business company (shosya); Mr. Sato, a Todai student who went to Rwanda but returned due to Malaria; a Hitotsubashi University student who stayed only for a short time because he had to catch a bus for Hakata, his home town; two businessmen (one of them lives in Rwanda and is the person who invited me); and Dr. Sahara, my staff (a medical doctor but had been to India this fall, and is planning to go to Scotland for the New Year Holidays).

They all came from very different backgrounds so naturally the conversation became very active.  They kept talking and talking, enjoying the conversation very much? experiences in Africa, hopes for future careers, worries about the future…  Given so many choices, each seemed to wonder what to do.

Seeing them made me confident that these sort of youth were definitely  our human assets. They are who have potentials to be active in whatever arena, be it Japanese enterprises, governments or studying abroad.

Young Scientists Take Action for the Insular-Minded Young Researchers of Japan


On many recent occasions, the issue of the declining numbers of Japanese students who seek international study is being pointed out.  This trend seems to apply to the field of science, also.  In this global age, many Asian young scientists go abroad to study at western universities in the hope to structure better careers.  They know that this will give them better chances to access opportunities that lead to popular international careers sought by future leaders of the world.

Typically in Japan scientists work for 2-3 years as Post-Docs at western universities and then go back to their home institution or lab for permanent jobs.  Going abroad to earn PhD degrees and remaining there to build a career will present unexpected challenges in Japan.  However, this is also definitely a way that will enable one to professionally work anywhere in the world. 

Recently, though, the number of Japanese Post-Docs going abroad for research is declining. There is also a decline in the number of Japanese students who earn PhD degrees overseas , which is low to begin with.  This difference is the most conspicuous difference between Japan and other Asian countries.  In other Asian countries the number of youths going to western countries for higher educations is rapidly increasing.  I truly am bothered by our young Japanese researcher’s inward-guided mindsets..
Unlike the so-called ‘great’ professors in Japanese Universities, there are very few scientists actively working in the U.S. (such as Professor Kobayashi of Princeton University) (Ref.1, 2,3 4) who share the same concern as me. 

The problem is that distinguished professors have certain privileges and have ulterior motives. .  Though agreeing to the overall idea of international education, they will never actually let go of their young scientists for study abroad. This is because they are the ‘useful instruments’ or ‘hands and feet’ of the professors.  I think it is quite obvious that most of the university faculties have insular mindsets  (Ref.1).

The foundation for this mindset is clear when you look at what the profession provides: a professorial position ensures comfort in many ways in Japan. The Japanese society is a hierarchical society that looks up to national institutions and looks down on private institutions.  Increasing the number of academic achievements is top priority for professors, rather than nurturing the students. Therefore, no matter how the university faculties pretend to support international experience, they are actually enjoying their high position within conventional Japanese society. As such, they resist innovation and educational reform just as much as other components of the Japanese social structure. Merely looking at their professional position makes it clear enough where they stand.  I cannot help but believe university faculty care most about their interest.

Do you remember a Post Doc whom I touched upon in my posting a year ago in the context of an occasion where I spoke with Japanese youths working in Boston? I was strongly impacted when a Post Doc said: “What I regret most in my short life so far is that I earned my PhD degree in Japan” (by the way, he earned his PhD degree at a prestigious national university in Japan.  When he sought for advice from his professor, this professor strongly recommended that he studying in a Japanese graduate school…)   I think that his regret was stronger because he was trying to seek an independent career as an individual.

I noticed recently how people are taking action  (Ref.1, 2)  (all links are in Japanese) to address this issue.  They are the few young Japanese who earned their PhD degrees in US, UK, or other western countries, currently working hard outside Japan.  They share the concerns which I have described above.

Dr. Shigeki Sugii 
(Ref.1, 2)(all links are in Japanese)is one example.  Dr. Sugii is trying to reach Japanese youths who might be interested so he may give practical advices on how to earn PhD degree in the US.

Activities to encourage overseas studies include the publication of ‘Studying Science and Technologies at Overseas Graduate Schools (Rikei Daigakuin Ryugaku)’  (in Japanese) and creation of ‘Networks of Scientists (Kagakusha Netto)’  (in Japanese) both in which I was partly involved.  There are also other promotional activities happening in Japan. Still,  it seems to me that these efforts are, first of all, the responsibility of the university faculty: they should encourage youth, advise them to go overseas to learn, offer them more possibilities to choose from, and always be supportive.   The adults should always bear in mind that youth are our hope of making our future better.  The youth are our most precious assets and resource.

Dr. Sugii and his friends organized a symposium last week under the title: ‘The First Symposium on the Careers of Doctors: How to Make the Best Use of Doctoral Degree ? Grab Chances Because Now is the Difficult Time for Job Hunters!’ (Ref.1) (in Japanese). Dr. Kitazawa, President of JST , and I were invited to deliver keynote lectures. (However, to my regret, I had to leave the site right after my speech because I had an appointment with Mr. Saisho.)

Dr. Sugii is currently working for UCSD but is planning to move to A*STAR in Singapore  (Ref.1) next year.  I like it.  I hope and expect to see more and more young Japanese scientists go overseas to work in international settings.

I ask all adults to help youth see the whole world, create more opportunities for first hand experience, encourage them to participate in such opportunities, and give great support so that they may grow into good leaders of the global world.

This world is huge and it is there for the youth who earnestly pursue their career.  As the proverbs says ‘‘If you love your child, let him/her travel (kawaii ko ni wa tabi wo sasero)’


Mr. Saisho of the Dragon Cherry Blossoms and the ‘Dream Award 2010’ by Watami Co., Ltd.


On December 21st, I posted a column titled ‘The Dragon Cherry Blossoms (in Japanese) of Dhaka – They Did it Again’, which I wrote on 20th.

The main character of this story, Mr. Saisho, passed the screening of the ‘Dream Award 2010’ (in Japanese) from so many candidates to remain among the 5 finalists, and on 21th, the day after I drafted the above column, the final speech competition took place at Hibiya Public Auditorium.  I heard about this from Mr. Saisho himself because I met him the day before, on 20th near Hibiya, where the event took place.
I was told by the organizer that the speech by the wonderful 5 finalists were all very moving, but surprisingly Mr. Saisho won both the ‘Best Watami Dream Award’ and ‘Special Watami Award’ (in Japanese).  Mr. Saisho’s presentation can be seen on the web (in Japanese) within the timeframe of  01:57:55-02:12:33 and the announcement of the winners during 02:19:15-02:25:30.

A transcript of the interview of Mr. Saisho (in Japanese) is on the web, too.

The Dragon Cherry Blossoms is an outstanding project in terms of its scope, the big gap between now and the goal, and the strong ability to take actions to carryout the plans.

The impact of this project is huge because they, together with the youths of the poor village in Bangladesh, actually proved in real life that a big dream can become true.

I sent an e-mail to Mr. Saisho right away to say ‘I am proud of you.  But let’s be careful not to be too flattered by those series of good things that keep happening recently.’  The next day, he sent me a reply: ‘Yes, I will keep telling myself that praise is the biggest trap!’.  Good!

He will leave for Dahka on December 26th.

I wrote an e-mail to him: ‘Have a nice holiday season in Dhaka. Take care’.

The Dragon Cherry Blossoms of Dhaka – They Did it Again!


This is another entry about Mr. Saisho (in Japanese), a Waseda University student. He’s been on leave from school for two years working in Bangladesh. I’ve written about him several times here.  Mr. Saisho has been working on a great project that brings hope to a poor village in Bangladesh. The project uses e-education to assist and empower youth in preparing for entrance exams for top Bangladesh universities. Preparation for these exams is usually class-driven; Mr Saisho and his colleagues are helping to lesson obstacles for the poorer. 

Two students succeeded in the exam. The news  was reported on the local newspaper under a bold heading.  Japanese media has been covering this news as well.  Mr. Saisho and his friends started this project two yeas ago and later gave it an ambitious name: ‘Grameen Change Maker Program’.

What happened to the other students?  Well, I received a follow up e-mail from Mr. Saisho yesterday.  According to his message, two more students passed the exams.

 "Dr. Kurokawa,

Here is more good news.  Two male students passed the entrance exam to the Teachers College of Comilla University, the 5th best national university in Bangladesh!!!

Below is the summary to date.

Accepted to University of Dhaka, the No.1 National University:
Bhuran Uddian Helal (male)
1,276th of 36,000 applicants

Accepted to Jagannath University, the No.3 National University:
Jaren Akter (female)
2,000th of 70,000 applicants

Accepted to Comilla University (Teachers College), the No.5 National University:
Muhamad Hossian (male)
480th of 40,000 applicants

Accepted to Comilla University (Teachers College), the No.5 National University:
MD Jafor Ahmed (male)
270th of 70,000 applicants

Each student passed with high scores!

Here, people are praising the achievement by calling it a ‘miracle in Hamchar village’

Now, people are curious to know more about the Dragon Cherry Blossoms e-Education method ? to learn the secret of how the village high school students succeeded in passing the university entrance exams with such high scores.

Atsuyoshi Saisho”

For all those elderly who look down upon our youth, what do you think of this? Youths today are not in as bad of a place as you think. They are actually reliable and know exactly what they are doing.

Just giving them a small nudge from behind, like encouraging them to take a leave of absence from school and go abroad, is enough to make them go and see the new broad world, to find issues, and to challenge the issues bravely.

I advise youths to not be afraid of failures.  Have ambition and courage to challenge high goals. Try, and when you fail, learn your lessons from your failure and try again.  This is the key.  In short, it is ‘No Failure, no success’.

It is this young population that we want and that we are always looking for.  Are they not the human asset – the human resource whom the society, companies, and Japan as a nation need?  They are what we would call the ‘nails that stick out (Deru Kui)’, people who are not restricted to the commonsense of the Japanese society.

This is the reason why I so strongly recommend taking leave of absence from school.   We should give the youth opportunities to be aware of their possibilities.  As I always say, Japan is only a part of the wide world.

For you, readers, I would like to remind you that there are so many ways of helping such youth.  I ask for your warm support.

Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum


After finishing the panel at Tunis, I left the hotel in late afternoon.  Arriving at Doha, Qatar via Dubai at 6:30 am, I checked in at Sheraton again.  I was here this past June (Ref.1), too.  This time, it was right when Qatar won the 2022 World Cup Bid.

My travel was by the invitation of Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum which will be held for two days.  The Qatar Foundation  (Ref.1) is one of the major institutions of Qatar focused on development of good education. Her Highness herself is the devoted driver of its activities, some of which have already produced great results. For example,  the research laboratories of Cornell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Texas A&M University are all built on the huge premise of the Foundation.
Because this was their first Forum, the main purpose was to introduce the Qatar Foundation to the world.  The Foundation attracted many participants this year.  This country is very young, to begin with.  And the nation is also very dedicated to human resource development, with the initiatives of the Qatar University.  They are keen to education because they know that, although they are rapidly accumulating wealth as one of the major energy exporting nations of the world of gas and oil, the final resource this small island nation will be able to depend on for its future is the human resource.

Qatar is also a nation that protects and supports culture and art.  A good example of this is the Museum of Islamic Art, which I have spoken about before on this site.

The Forum opened at 9am with the speech of Her Highness, the Queen.  Between the programs, I enjoyed reading posters (especially those by the students).  I was also a jury member that presided over the presentations of Biomedical Science researches. Dr. Elias Zerhouni (former Director of NIH), Dr. Peter Agre (a Nobel laureate of chemistry for his discovery of water channel) and Dr. Monsef Saloui(the head of GSK, RD)were also part of this jury. Elias and Moncef are my good friends, but I have not worked with Dr. Agre before. I did, however, know about his work, and had listened to several of his lectures. The forum was full of young energy.  I was particularly impressed by the existence of many active women.

In the evening, I visited Ambassador Moji at the Japan embassy in Qatar with President Tsuciya and several people of Tsuchiya Corporation (Mr. Nishida, a very good Arabic speaker whom I saw at the embassy in Abu Dhabi was there also.)  Then, we visited the residence of former Ambassador of Qatar to Japan, H.E. Reyad Ali Al-Ansari who recently returned to Qatar after 9 years of service in Japan and invited us for dinner.  It is nice to experience expansion of human networks like this.  H.E. Al-Ansari said that his son studied in the U.S. and is currently working in the oil business in Qatar.  However, he seemed to be not so approving of his daughter’s studying abroad.

We paid a brief visit to the president of administration of Her Highness the next day at the head office of Qatar Foundation. It was unfortunately brief because our schedule was packed in the afternoon with many sessions on science policy etc.  We need to have more Japanese researchers and youths participate in such occasions. It is important to promote the exchange of young people.

The result of the selection was announced at the evening reception.  From our group, the award was given to a study done on defective hearing that identified the responsible DNA and showed that the deficiency was caused by the malfunctioning of its hair cells.  The project was very nicely  researched and the researcher answered each question with confidence.  Her boss, the head of the administrative office at her hospital (who also happened to be a women), looked very happy.  This head was also a very gifted and able person whom I truly enjoyed talking for some time with.  I was seated at the same table as the professors of MIT, UCLA, and the Dean of the local Texas A&M research laboratory.  We quite enjoyed the conversation over dinner because we had so many common topics to talk about.  I had to leave during the dinner to catch the 22:50 airplane for Abu Dhabi, a forty minute flight.
Whenever I am exposed to the energy and motivation of young people, I always become eager to help.  I also look forward to seeing more exchanges carried out between Japan and Qatar.

To Tunis: Japan-Arab Economic Conference


In the evening of December10th, I left Narita via Dubai to Tunis in order to attend the 2nd Japan-Arab Economic Conference held in Tunis on the 11th and 12th.  The arrival time at Tunis was shortly after noontime.

I felt a cool breeze as I left the airport, and I thought that Tunis was a nice place.  Since I had seen H.E. Hatano, former ambassador to UAE, in Dubai, I headed directly to the Carthage remains from the airport.  I enjoyed a nice tour with Mr. Ohashi, a long time expert of middle eastern business of Mitsui & Co. He kindly guided me around with a full explanation of the sites (he is quite informed about this area, and said that he recently stayed in Tunis for a week…)

Here, we encountered Mr. Ohata, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, and delegates.

After stopping by at several sight seeing spots, we arrived at Sidi Bou Said (Ref.1), our final destination.  It was a lovely old town with white walls and beautiful blue windows and doors.  We had tea at the so called oldest coffee shop in the world, relaxing, as the time went slowly by.  Tunis is in the Mediterranean Culture zone, both geographically and historically.  Time pass slowly here.  I must admit that a workaholic lifestyle, competing only for higher GDPs, has some problems.  Here, you can feel the long history of culture.

The reception was held at Ramada Hotel, the venue of the conference and our accommodation.  About 300 people came for this conference from Japan.  The head of the Japanese delegation was Mr. Okuda of Toyota, and I had the honor of seeing and greeting many leaders of Japanese business.  Mr. Maehara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also participated this year.  I had an impression that many Japanese from business sector came to the reception.

The conference hall was packed the next day.  It must have been hard to keep on schedule since there were many different sorts of people who gave speeches.  It started with the Japanese Ministers Maehara and Ohata, and then the Ministers of Arabian countries and many important people gave speeches.  I imagine that it was hard work for the secretariat. There were a number of collaborative projects were signed and announced, giving hope for a series of of good outcomes in coming years.

I tried to illustrate Japanese activities to the participants by briefly explaining relationships of Japan and Arabs. In these illustrations I included an introduction of the STS Forum, the panels on education, human resource development, science, and technology.  After having a slightly late lunch, I packed my things and headed for the airport.  I arrived at Doha via Dubai early in the morning of 12th.

Somehow, this travel was quite a busy one.

Welcoming Ambassador Roos to my Keio SFC Class



I assume that you are familiar with my Keio SFC course through my reports on this web site as well as through the on-line videos

For the December 8th class, we welcomed U.S. Ambassador Roos (IMPACT Japan posting of 2010/12/08) as our guest.  Because this was such a rare occasion, the Keio SFC administration arranged to open the auditorium at the θbuilding,  thereby extending the opportunity to all students.   President Seike, as well as the Deans of Keio SFC, Drs. Murai, Kokuryo, Agawa, and Tokuda also came to listen to this lecture. NHK came to report on this, too.

To say a few words about Ambassador Roos’ background, he earned his degrees at Stanford University and Stanford Law School, and was the CEO of a Silicon Valley-based law firm specializing in intellectual property law before accepting the ambassadorship, and has a great interest in entrepreneurship.  So, I decided to have a dialogue style session with H.E. Roos focusing on the theme of entrepreneurship.  Since the auditorium was huge, I asked my students beforehand to prepare one question they each would like to ask Ambassador Roos. I also asked about 20 students to get on the stage with him.
Additionally, we set up a big screen behind us to show twitter entries from the students  in the hall during the session.

I think the session turned out to be a nice one, reflecting well the character and personality of Ambassador Roos.  After our dialogue, Dr. William Saito, my partner of this class (we do this together because we are both frequently away for overseas travel…) hosted a Q&A between the Ambassador and the students.  The first question was asked by a surprise guest (IMPACT Japan Posting of 2010.11.22) Ms. Reina Otsuka of Ecotwaza. This session will be uploaded on the video site of my class soon, I hope.

After giving the lecture, the Ambassador stopped by our Innovation Lab.  He seemed to be quite interested.  I hope that several years from now, some good results will emerge from here and directly relate to Silicon Valley.

A part of my session with Ambassador Roos was broadcasted two days later on NHK-BS television program at 10 pm on December 10th.  Unfortunately, I was unable to see this because I was set to leave for Tunis the same evening….

I am quite positive that this was one of the most unforgettable, wonderful, and stimulating days of the participating students’ lives.

From Dubai: Global Agenda Council



On November 27th I headed for Dubai to participate in the Global Agenda Council (Ref.1,2) of the World Economic Forum.  Though a majority of the participants were in other Councils, about 20 people came from Japan including Drs. Heizo, Takenaka, Akihiko Tanaka, and Yoko Ishikura .  The program spanned 4 days, with 3 of those days having tightly packed schedules. Unlike past forums this was arranged with precise detail. The reason for this was because the objective was to recommend how to create networks for Global Risk Response for all kinds of anticipated risks in the world.

Since I was the Chair of the Japan Council, my schedule was packed.  Chairs were asked to arrive one day earlier to be present at the overall briefing.  There was no free time. I had to understand how everything worked, how to move the system, attend Briefing sessions, participate in other important Councils, etc.  My role was very demanding in a way.

The forum occurred at the same time that North Korea emerged as an issue. Because of this we had to be more sensitive about things, which made me feel more tired than usual.

However, this situation was also a good opportunity.  Particularly, being able to exchange views with Councils of China and Korea on political issues, economic climate, growth of China was a rewarding experience.  The Chinese Council Chair was Mr. He Yafei, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Korean Council Chair was Dr. Moon Chung-In (Ref.1), Professor of Politics at Yonsei University whom I have known for long time.  Having discussion not only with the Council members, but also with those two Chairs and hearing suggestive words and genuine thoughts and feelings was truly something I appreciated.

The reception in the evening of the second day was held at the terrace of Burj Khalifa Tower, the tallest building in the world.  Gazing at the soaring tower, seeing the view, meeting people…was quite a nice experience.

The third day of the meeting was BBC World News Debate, a wonderful 70 minutes discussion hosted by Mr. Nik Gowing, the well known anchor person of BBC.  I think you will have an opportunity to see this on television sometime in the future.  The participants included Mr. Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia and minister of foreign affairs of current administration, Ambassador He of China, Ms. Malini Mehra, Ms. Louise Arbour of International Crisis Group, and Mr. James Cameron of Climate Change Capital.  I was particularly impressed with Mr. Rudd’s 20 seconds spontaneous speech to people behind the television camera.  Ability to take such flexible actions is one of the qualities required of good politicians.

One of the lessons I learned during these 3 days is the importance of making visual as possible the problems we are discussing.  At the Design Council, I had a glimpse of the wonderful works of Professor Toshiko Mori of Harvard University Design School.  I understand that Design Council and Innovation Council members helped problem solving processes of other Councils, and the results were fantastic.

Now, we all have lots of homework to do and issues to be addressed for the coming year.

It was a full, packed 4 days with lots of learning.  I left Dubai and arrived safely at Narita on the evening of December 2nd.