Joi Ito Appointed to the Director of the MIT Media Lab: Change Japan!


MIT is one of the top universities of the world, internationally known, a dream for youths.  In this prestigious university, there is a well known lab called the Media Lab, and it happens that they selected as their next director Joichi Ito (44 years old, more popular as ‘Joi’) (Ref.1,2) (Ref.2 is in Japanese), a Japanese more famous in the world rather than in Japan.

He had been sending out tremendous volume of information, views, opinion for these two decades.  Please visit his blog (the link is in my Blogroll, too) and you will see his high ambitions and determinations in assuming the directorship.

Joi and I have been in touch with each other for about a decade or so.  I have been introducing him to you from the early stage of my web site.  We share the idea of ‘Ozumo-nization of universities’, and I think it was around the time of Koizumi administration in 2006; this idea was printed in a major media in Japan for the first time in the Nikkei newspaper (in Japanese), and Joi Ito introduced it for the first time in the English media, if I remember correctly.

Joi, myself, and many of my friends, have built careers which are rather ‘outside’ of the Japanese society.  I am happy that I was able to support him a bit this time.

I think that after the ‘3.11’, the strength and weakness of Japan (Ref.1,2) unveiled itself clearly to the public.  To put it shortly, they are the weakness of ‘vertical society’, the weakness of ‘life long employment, hierarchy of the seniority based and men centered society”.  I have been pointing out this theme again and again in this site and elsewhere.

However, I am pleased to witness a series of events that break many of such ‘Japanese common sense’ happening recently.  Actually, what is happening are nothing impressive in other parts of the world.  Good Things.  It seems that after all we need a push from ‘outside’ to change.

Joi, in his youth, used to be a ‘very curious’ student who loved to ask questions to his teachers.  He left Chicago university when he was a sophomore, did not earn any degrees, Bachelor, Master, nor Doctor ? a complete ‘out of a box’ type if judged by average Japanese (or even US) standard.  However, the whole world recognizes his outstanding talent.  The decision of MIT to welcome him as the Director is also extraordinary.

By the way, has any of the Japanese major media covered this news?  For what purpose, I wonder?

Come to think of it, neither Bill Gates of Microsoft nor Mark Zuckerberg of FaceBook finished Harvard University.  Steve Jobs of Apple left University because he was unable to afford the tuition.  They are exceptional examples, though.

Students are expected to study hard at university.  However, it is not good to say ‘if you do not succeed in job hunting by your senior year, you are a drop out…’ because such idea is a sheer nonsense outside of Japan.