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.