Health Summit: The Annual Event of the HGPI


Following the Congressional Briefing with the members of the Diet of Japan which took place on February 25nd, we opened the Global Health Forum 2011on 26th.

We focused on Global Health, in collaboration with  UNITAID and Department of Global Health Policy of The University of Tokyo.

As you can see from the program, the host of this forum was Ms. Doden of NHK, an expert in this field, and the key note was delivered by Mr. Douste-Blazy, Board of UNITAID, UN Special Advisor on Innovative Financing for Development, and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of France.  The panelists were; Professor Shibuya, University of Tokyo, Mr. Tistdall, GAVI (Japan is one of the major nations supporting the bond issuance for immunization), Mr. Eun Joo Lee, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Korea, Ms. Cristina Parsons Perez, American Cancer Society,  Mr. Mugitani, Senior Vice Minister of Ministry of Health of Japan, Dr. Stephen Morrison, Senior Vice President of CSIS and Director of Global Health Policy Center, and Dr. Yonekura, Chairman of the Sumitomo Chemical and Japan Business Federation (Keidanren).  I am grateful for their participation, knowing their tight schedule.

The forum succeeded in coordinating a good, meaningful discussion thanks to the participation of many key persons in the field of Global Health.  I would also like to note here that Mr. David Bowen of the Gates Foundation kindly joined our Forum.

The discussion started by searching for the possible area and means where Japan could contribute.  We focused on the achievement of the MDG, discussing possible support by the developed countries, and the process to follow, taking into account the current financial difficulties which those developed countries have.  Although Japan is currently making contributions through immunization bond issuances in addition to ODA by the government, we tried to figure out new types of support that is independent from the tax money allocated from the government of Japan.

I hope that the Japanese economy as well as the mood in its society will improve soon.


Collaboration with CSIS and Congressional Briefing: A New Process


Our HGPI (Health and Global Policy Institute) have been hosting Health Summit every February and for this year it was held on February 26th.

We launched this year a collaboration project on Health Policy with CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies), a well known Think Tank based in Washington DC.  This collaboration has been our hope and issue since last year.

The background of this collaboration is that Dr Brian Biles of CSIS participated in our Health Summit last year, and HGPI co-hosted an international conference last June in London under the title of ‘Transition from G8 to G20: Health and Development’ with CSIS and Chatham House (an established British Think Tank).

We had a preliminary meeting at the Congressman Hall room on February 25th with influential Japanese legislators and the CSIS team Stephen Morrison , Brian Biles.  Also participating in the meeting were the specialists of the project – Professor Gerard Anderson of Johns Hopkins University and Professor Ikegami of Keio University for ‘hospital payments’, Professor John Hamelka of Harvard (he has a wonderful blog site) and Professor Akiyama (in Japanese) of the University of Tokyo for IT and health record and patient safety.

A number of legislators with good knowledge of healthcare policy shared their valuable time with us; Mr. Otsuji (in Japanese)(LDP, former Minister of Health and Welfare), Dr. Sakaguchi (in Japanese)(New Komeito, former Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare), Mr. Seko (in Japanese) (LDP), Mr. Kan Suzuki (in Japanese)(DPJ, Senior Vice Minister of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Japan), Dr. Adachi (in Japanese)(DPJ, former Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Labour and Welfare), Dr. Umemura (in japanese)(DPJ), and Mr. Konishi (in Japanese)(DPJ).  I thank them all for their participation and good, productive discussion.

We also invited several people from business and mass media.  Dr. David Bowen of the Gates Foundation happened to be in Tokyo, so we asked him to come as well.  Dr. Bowen worked for many years as the policy staff for Senator Edward Kennedy so he has a good knowledge of how healthcare policies work or how legislators develop and manage the process of legislation.

I think that this is the very first case that policymaking process like this took place in Japan.  It is the first time that an independent think tank of Japan and the United States collaborated in policymaking, and in its process, set up a Congressional Briefing session with nonpartisan legislators at the Japanese congress auditorium.  Next meeting of this CSIS-HGPI project will be held in Washington DC on July 14th, at the timing where a large framework is worked out.

I hope that this event will eventually become one of the new steps of legislation process in Japan

The World Think Tank Ranking: HGPI Ranks in the Top 10 for the 2 Consecutive Years


The world ranking is a topic in many areas as the world goes global.  There are the top 500 rakings of companies, rankings on DGP and competency of the nations, rankings of the universities, billionaires, so on and so forth.

It was just last year that I noticed that there was such thing as the ranking of think tanks.  The list I found was based on the study by the University of Pennsylvania.

It came as a big surprise to us when we discovered in 2009 that our Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI)  (founded in 2004, originally named as Health Policy Institute but changed to current name in 2011) was ranked in the Top 10 (Ref.1 P.42) in the field of Health Policy.  The list included Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, RAND, and other institutions known to the world as the first class policy institutes.

I wondered what this year’s ranking would be since I have thought that the result of 2009 might have been some sort of a mistake.  So, as we were preparing for the annual Health Summit to be held in February, I had some concern about the evaluation for 2010.  However, it turned out that our institution was again among the Top 10 (Ref.1 p.34&35). I don’t want to boast, but this is truly a great achievement.
The number of think tanks completely independent from government organizations is still small outside the United States or Great Britain.  I would like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all the people who supported our activities and the staffs who did a great job at our institution.

‘Kaisya Ishin (Restoration of Companies)’ and ‘Zasetsu-ryoku (Capacity to Fail)’ by Kazuhiko Toyama


Kazuhiko Toyama is known for his direct comments and actions.

His books "Company rots from its head (published in Japanese only)" or "Tenacity of one finger decided the contest (published in Japanese only)" might give you an impression that he is a radical, but I consider his works as clarifying the essence of the issues, and presenting to you views worth listening to.

He published a new book last year titled ‘Restoration of Companies ? A Guidebook to Capitalism in the Transition Period (published in Japanese only)’.  In this book, he makes his points very clear on what we must hold as the core values of capitalism and enterprise.  I found many parts where he clarifies things I did not understand well before.  Of course, since the book is on ‘cores’ and ‘essence’, he discusses not only about how a company should be organized, but also presents many keen observations about society as a whole.  Therefore, I strongly recommend reading this book not only to businesspeople, but also to those in the government sector or academia ? or anyone who is in positions responsible for running organizations in our society.

I said on twitter; ‘The book is a ‘must’ to all businesspeople.  But I also recommend it to officers, legislators, or anyone.  Don’t argue with me, just read the book because it concerns essential issues regarding the problems we have.’  I later found that someone read it right away and posted a comment on his blog . I was thrilled.  Thank you so much for your action.

Some of you may remember my recent posting on ‘failure’ (in Japanese) in which I mentioned this new book by Toyama, ‘Capacity to Fail (published in Japanese only).

Again, this book is great.  Like in other books, he writes in a light but firm tone, how important it is for any individual to experience a failure.  He lists about 50 (actually, 52…) valuable lessons to be learned by failing in something especially in your early stage of life.  In short, he talks about having a ‘backbone’.

The importance of learning lessons by experiencing a failure is significant.  One learns a lot from the process of overcoming failure.  Manuals are no good for such learning.  Come to think of it, the proverbs that exist in all parts of the world reflect such wisdom.

I recommend this book, especially to young people.  Old people might find hints here on how to support youth, things they can do for the young people, by reflecting on the paths they, the old people, have gone through.

It doesn’t make sense to regard someone as ‘no-good’ just because the person failed to get a job in the year they graduated.  Only Japanese society has such an employment system.

Everyone, please support the youth so that we may create a society that has opportunities for the future.


Vabel Conference; A Follow-up


I posted a report about the Vabel Conference that we held in January. The video of the conference is now on the web.  You can listen to the speeches by the lecturers.  Professor Ishikura introduces the video in her blog, too.

The majority of the participants were Japanese and the speakers were all Japanese, but the language we used was English (actually, a broken English, except for Drs. Ishikura and Saito who speak English very well….).  This may sound odd to you, but we really had a good time.  I think the key to success is to make a good atmosphere and also to getting people acclimated to the situation.

Mr. Kim, the ‘pari pari’ worker organized and hosted this conference. He had been staying in Japan for a while after taking a leave of absence from a University in England. He is again planning to go abroad.

I think having such energy and aggressiveness as Mr. Kim is good for any young professional.

From San Diego ? Delivering a Keynote Lecture at the First ‘Cell Society Clinical Annual Meeting’


On February 17th, I left Narita for San Diego via San Francisco.  I was to give a keynote lecture at the Cell Society Clinical Annual Meeting.  I checked in at the Estancia Hotel at La Jolla where the meeting was to take place.  It actually was quite a comfortable Hotel.

The weather, however, was not at all like South California; cold, dim, and we even had a rainfall.  This is a rare situation, but it’s no use complaining.  The weather recovered, however, during the afternoon of the second day. 

The objective of this gathering was quite clear; to discuss exclusively on the current status of adult Stem Cell usage in clinical settings.  We didn’t focus much on basic research; rather, on what was happening in each field ? including correspondences with the investigation authorities.  I enjoyed the presentations: many of the presenters are people with whom I rarely have opportunites to see in my regular academic activities. I felt as if I was being introduced to a new frontier

As we learned about various knowledge gained in various fields, we gradually came to see all kinds of possibilities that adult ‘Stem Cells’ have for clinical fields.  I think there is a great potential especially in the field related to orthopedics or cosmetic surgery.  Considering that we are in the aging society, there would be need other than authentic healthcare.

From such broader perspectives, I felt that my keynote lecture was adequate for the occasion.  I said a few words on Watson (Ref.1, 2), too.   (I noticed that Dr. Yoko Ishikura also commented on Watson in her blog).  Many of the participants congratulated me for the speech.  I was very happy to know that they liked it.

Moreover, I strongly felt that in the context of the progress of 20th Century medicine, this meeting, by itself, established a very unique standpoint.  It suggested us the possibility of a totally different perspective and framework of science.  I would like to talk more on this issue at some other occasion.

From 9:30pm.  I had some wine with a few Japanese students studying at UCSD and other universities, and also people from CONNECT, at the hotel until very late at night.  Photos are here.  I always enjoy exchanging views with young people from Japan. They are always full of energy.  I want them to become globally active, and am looking forward to seeing that happen.

So, again, I was exposed to more things to think about.

This Year’s Employment and ‘Naitei Torikeshi (Cancellation of Job Offering)’


The status of employment is still very bad in Japan.  I feel sorry for the youth.  Their future is being inhibited.  I think a large number of young people were deprived of opportunities during the past 20 years in Japan.  Why must one need to be a new graduate in order to apply for a job?

Risa Mamiya, a private university student in her junior year, wrote a book ‘Naitei Torikeshi (Cancellation of Job Offer)’ that recounts her experience job-hunting. Her activities turned out to be a battle with the enterprises.  Having read this, I felt it hard to believe, but who would take trouble to make up stories on such matters?  Of course, she writes a blog, too. (in Japanese)  By all means, please take a look.  Unimaginable things do happen in this world.

However, is there any guarantee that the current permanent employment system will continue?  Will there still be severance packages in 30 or 40 years from now?

So, how could you enhance your value in society?  What is the mission of higher education?  Will universities change?  Will enterprises change their ways?

What will the future of Japan be like?  If you look broadly at the current situation of the world, I think you will be able to see many more of things.
Just yesterday, I had a meeting with a board member in charge of the Japan and Asia regions at a new company (which was founded 10 years ago in the U.S., but from the start, this company has worked on the premise of going global). This company is now recruiting employees, and the two people they hired recently seemed to be very capable. Had I been a human resource worker, I too would have interviewed them at once.  However, they had failed to get jobs in Japanese companies (of recognition, and I was told that one of the two was declined by all 16 companies which he/she applied to…), so they were introduced to this company for  an interview, and the human resource decided on the spot to take them.  Those two people had a high potential to actively work from the beginning not only in Japan but also in Asia or any other parts of the world.

 I wonder why they failed to get a position at top Japanese companies.  This is the question.  What criteria do human resources in Japanese companies apply in evaluating their applicants? What kind of people are they looking for?

As I have introduced to you before,  Pasona co. launched a program to support new graduates who could not get jobs.  I think this is wonderful.  Such companies will get the support and trust from society.

So, then, what can the youth do?  I think there are many things that can be done or should be done.  Think about it.

One would be going abroad for study/overseas experience…. It’s the ‘Kyugaku no Susume (Recommendation on Taking a Leave of Absence from School)’.

To the G1 Summit


Two days after I returned from Okinawa, I went to the Hoshino Resort Risonare at Kobuchizawa located at the foot of the Yatsugatake and Kaikoma mountains.  My plan was to participate in the G1 Summit  hosted by Mr. Yoshihito Hori and his colleagues.  I saw Mr. Hori on several occasions: in the Davos Meeting conferences; at India, Singapore, Dalian, Tianjin, etc.    He is a young colleague of mine.

It was cold, but the weather was so beautiful that the low temperature did not bother me.  The view was all white.  The participants consisted mainly of young people, and I felt a great energy of desire to move Japan forward.  To my regret, I had work to be done in Tokyo on the first day (in spite of the 11th being a national holiday), but thanks to Twitter, I was able to sense what was happening at the conference. The guests were fantastic; for instance, from the policy and economy sector were Mr. Yoshimi Watanabe, Dr. Heizo Takenaka, Mr. Tetsuro Fukuyama, Hironari, and Mr. Hiroshige Seko. The business sector included people such as President Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceutical, Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama, CEO of Industrial Growth Platform Inc., Mr. Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., Mr. Miki Watanabe, the founder of Watami Co., and Mr. Yoshikazu Tanaka, the founder of GREE Inc. 

I arrived at the venue in the afternoon on the 2nd day to host the panel on science and technology policy(in Japanese) with Mr. Kan Suzuki, Senior Vice Minister of MEXT, Dr. Keiji Tachikawa, President of JAXA, and Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of iPS cell.  I claimed that the science technology is dependent on human resource development – whether it is a basic research or a Big Science new sprouts must spring from the seeds.  After witnessing the examples of their seniors, many young talents will spring.  This is the challenge that we must address.  While I admit that it was a great achievement for Japan to produce 10 Nobel laureates in the 21st century, I think we must also think seriously about the fact that 3 of them were residing in the U.S…

The closing program was a dialogue between former Prime Minister Abe, and Ms. Ryoko Sakurai under the title of ‘As Proud Japanese, we ….’.  In the evening, we went to the Suntory Hakushu Distillery and the aroma of whiskey made me feel mildly intoxicated.  We also enjoyed the entertaining talk of Mr. Rome Kanda, a speaker of last year’s TEDxTokyo.

On the next day, I hosted a panel; ‘Is Heavy Social Welfare Compatible With Economic Growth?(in Japanes)’ with Prof. Yoshikazu Kenjyo, Mr. Motohisa Furukawa, and Dr. Yuji Yamamoto.  The discussion somewhat strayed away from the title, I thought.  I also feel a bit responsible for letting each panelist talk too much (they had difficulty keeping the requested time of 5 minutes……).

The closing was gracefully hosted by Mr. Yoshito Hori, with Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka, Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka, and Mr. Seigo Matsuoka. 

It was a nice gathering.  I congratulate and thank Mr. Hori, the organizer, and his staff, as well as all the participants.


Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology; The Graduate School is Opening its Doors to the World


Photos (1, 2)

As I have mentioned to you several times here, the government of Japan is creating a new Graduate School in Okinawa that is open to the world.

The main buildings are gradually emerging, and the scientists are starting to move into their new offices from their temporary spaces that they’ve worked out of since last year. This year, the institution is commencing the procedure to obtain accreditation as a graduate school.  The recruitment of good researchers is under way, too.

As their web site shows, the content of this institution is truly global.  Of course, it is still far from perfect, and there are a number of issues to be solved (such as things related to the International School, or recruitment of students, etc.), but the bottom line is that this organization, from its inception, opens its doors to the world.  Because of this, I expect a lot.
Dr. Sydney Brenner is the first President of this Institute, and Dr. Jonathan Dorfan is the President elect of the Graduate School.  The list of board members is impressive, too, and I feel it a privilege to work with them. 

After the luncheon at the ACCJ I left Tokyo for Okinawa to attend the OIST board meeting.  We had a good discussion on many issues.  You can see the content and photos here.

It is important to create a new university or a graduate school that is open to the world at its foundation .  Although we talk about change, it is extremely difficult to take real action toward those changes.  We have too many people who come up with reasons for not doing something… I think it is the same in any university.  Japan is full of NATOs (“No Action Talk Only”s).   Universities in Japan are too far behind from the  global mainstream (in Japanese) (Ref.1 in English).  I urge people to act before complaining about the university ‘Rankings’.

To youth, I urge you to go abroad.  And I ask all of you to support such inspiring youth (Ref.1).

ACCJ Person of the Year: Speech at the Award Reception Celebration Luncheon



Several days ago, I posted a column titled ‘ACCJ Person of the Year, Why Me?’ .  It reported on my being selected as the ACCJ Person of the Year.

To celebrate, ACCJ kindly held a luncheon at the newly renovated Tokyo American Club on February 8th.  I gave a 2 hours speech followed by a Q/A.  ACCJ’s official report is on its web site (Japanese, English).

Princess Takamado honored us with her presence. ACCJ also kindly invited prestigious members of the ACCJ as well as many of my friends and staff at the beautiful banquet hall. In total there were about 100 guests.  It was truly a great honor.

Because my selection was a surprise to me, I tried to think ‘why they chose me, and what I could do to honor my selection.  I organized the speech into 4 parts. They constituted of 1) Kurokawa as ACCJ Person of the Year- what does it mean ?  2) What is Kurokawa saying, anyway?, 3) What I learned in America, and 4) What we need from America.  The full speech is here for your reference.  A 20 minute Q/A followed.

When the Q/A ended and the session was over people stood to applause for a while.  The standing ovation surprised me, but I was genuinely happy and honored.  The guests seemed to truly welcome my speech.

My adventures and education started in 1969, when I went abroad to the U.S. as a young physician for ‘nternational study. I had intended to return to Japan in 2 or 3 years.  It turned out that I ended up staying in the U.S. for almost 15 years. During this time I went through countless important experiences, leading me to a life that I have not imagined or expected.

This year, as Ambassador of ACCJ, I intend to contribute in any way possible to the enhancement of the already well-established U.S.-Japan relationship.