Upcoming Speech: Keynote Address with Madam Susan H. Roos, Wife of American Ambassador to Japan


GOLD is an NGO which is “An organization dedicated to developing global women leaders and building bridges across the Pacific”.  GOLD was founded by Ms. Hiroko Tatebe who went to the United States for university and then launched her career. 

One of the main activities of GOLD is its Annual Symposium.  The Symposium will be held this year on October 28th in Tokyo.

“Turning Strategy into Action through 3Cs: Creativity, Collaboration and Connection”

             Time and Date: October 28, 2011, 09:00 to 17:00

             Location: Tokyo American Club

You can get further information on this Symposium via these site links (Ref 1).


Ms. Susan H. Roos, wife of the current American ambassador to Japan, will be giving a keynote address on the theme of “Women’s Leadership: From “I Can’t” to “I Will” while I will be talking on “Turn Crisis into Opportunity: Time to Shape and Create New Next Generation Diversity”.

Ms. Roos is a labor law attorney who is well known in the United States and is a passionate supporter of the empowerment of women.

While there is a fee for participation (which is a tad on the high side), I think that you will find this Symposium to be well worth attending.  There will also be a reception at the end of the day’s events.

I would be really happy to see you if this event fits into your schedule and budget.

Upcoming Speech: Keynote Address with Madam Susan H. Roos, Wife of American Ambassador to Japan

Japan’s Future, The Shining ‘Nadeshikos’


Ever since the ‘3.11’, the establishments of Japan, i.e. governments, politics, mega companies, scientists, are somewhat weak, failing to appeal their existence in this global world.  They seem to be merely running around, not knowing what to do at this national disaster. People who will automatically think of ‘reasons why something can not be done’ will not be much of a help, especially at a time when we have to deal with such a huge issue.

You may not notice much by watching just Japanese media, but several big changes are taking place in the world today.  The great success of the ‘Nadeshiko Japan’ took place precisely at this timing when Japan was at a loss in this trend.

Recently, I had two opportunities to meet energetic ‘Nadeshikos’.

One is the annual L’Oreal Women in Science Fellowship award ceremony.   I am a member of the committee of the L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award, so I have participated in the awarding ceremony for these several years.

The venue was decorated beautifully, as always, in milk color tone which is very like L’Oreal.  I sensed that L’Oreal was working hard on PR since there were more media and cameras at the entrance than the years before.

Among the participants were the President of L’Oreal Japan and Dr. Koichiro Matsuura, former Director General of UNESCO who arranged the collaboration between UNESCO and the L’Oreal Women in Science Award while he was at the position.  Four wonderful awardees were selected this year.  In addition, a special award was presented to the Science Angels of Tohoku University.  I found out that Ms. Meisa Kuroki, a popular Japanese actress and singer, was invited to the ceremony, which explains the reason for more media persons with cameras.

Another was the International Conference for Women in Business organized by Ms. Kaori Sasaki, chair of e-Woman.  The conference started from 8 in the Saturday morning with the nice lectures by Ms. Fujiyo Ishiguro, an active business leader and Ms. Yukiko Arai, Senior Specialist at International Labor Organization.  Then, Dr. Yoko Ishikura and I had dialogue for 30 minutes which we enjoyed very much.  After the first session was a panel session titled ‘Japan’s Communication Skills’ with Ms. Ishiguro which was a wonderful opportunity to meet with lots of energetic women.  I think the percentage of men there was about 5% or so, but they were all very nice, mostly ‘out of a box type’ people, whom I very much enjoyed talking to.

I expect a lot from women, especially younger women, for the sake of the better future of Japan.  It’s ‘Nadeshikos’ that we count on.


My Opinion Pieces in the New Komeito and Liberal Democratic Party of Japan Papers


Last month, a dialogue with the Tetsuo Sato, former Minister of the Environment and current acting Secretariat General of the New Komeito and myself took place on the topic of “Japan Overcoming Crises and Making a Contribution to the Rest of the World ? The Lessons of Our Nuclear Disaster as a Resource for the Common International Good” (in Japanese).  This article appeared in New Komeito which is the official monthly journal of the New Komeito Party.  This debate took place one month after the earthquake on April 13th.  I hope you will forgive me for the delay in posting this information because, frankly, it completely slipped my mind.

The following topics were covered:

  • The real face of Japan
  • Leadership that is weak at the time of crises
  • A blueprint for disaster recovery
  • Japan in the world today

I wrote frankly about “political leadership (p. 3) of the current Democratic Party of Japan administration.

In this journal, a dialogue with the Kazuhisa Ogawa, an expert on Japan’s self-defense force, and another with Masayuki Yamanouchi, a historian and a great scholar appeared in the issues before and after mine.

A three-part series was published in the official weekly paper of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan in July.  The series was entitled “Contemplating the State of the Nation” and my theme was Social Welfare.  The titles of the articles (all in Japanese) are listed below:

However, when I talked with the editor on the phone and expressed my reservations that these three expansive themes would be extremely difficult to adequately cover over three installments in the available space with the end result being essentially being meaningless, the editor responded that he had gotten the exact same response from a number of people.

I did address these topics broadly over the three installments, and I was able to say what I wanted to say.

The final installation came out today and I, quite by chance, was in the offices of a senior Liberal Democratic Diet member in the afternoon.  He took a look at the article and offered up some comments.

The article did contain some rather critical comments in regards to the Liberal Democratic Party which is to be expected.

Today, more than ever, politicians have a huge responsibility in a Japan which is currently in a precarious position.


Discussions with CSIS in Washington DC – 2


A public panel discussion was held during my two-days of discussions with CSIS (Ref. 1).  The session lasted approximately two hours including greetings from Michael Green, Senior Adviser and Japan Chair, and Kazuhide Ishikawa, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Japanese embassy.  You can take a look at what was discussed in this video (which is admittedly a little long).

I must admit that this panel discussion made me reflect on the fact that despite all my years of study of English, I still have a huge room for improvement before I will feel fairly comfortable participating in this type of debate in English.

We were able to establish relationships with such internationally well known ‘Think Tanks’ like the CSIS due to the help, support and assistance of many individuals in our Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI).  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you.

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After the end of our meetings on the second day, I enjoyed a lovely Italian meal with Fred Garber of Project Hope and Mr. Noritake of HGPI (photos above).

I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you, visitors to my website for your support so that we can create a Japan that is a responsible international partner.



Liberal Arts Education


There were times in the past when people discussed passionately about the importance of ‘Liberal Arts’ education.  I think this is happening again recently.  Dr. Ikujiro Nonaka, a ‘guru’ of innovation (in Japanese), is also repeatedly  preaching the importance of Liberal Arts education in innovation for these several years.

ICU  is basically a rare Liberal Arts College in Japan, and this year it launched a new ‘Liberal Arts’ course as the Summer Course in a summer camp style (students staying in campus).  Since I was interested in this, I happily accepted their invitation and spent a good 80 minutes at the seminar.  ICU has a huge green campus.  Actually, I wished to study at this very new University (established in 1953) when I was a high school student.

Liberal Arts as I understand it is a way to enable you to make rational decisions or choices in your life, at times of difficulties or confusions.  Aside from detailed discussion, basically, in general, I think it is the art of understanding the basics of humanity, regardless of the difference of cultures. I remember President Faust of Harvard University making the same sort of comments when she came to Japan last year.

As I have reported in my recent blog posting, this summer, a group of Harvard College students with some college students of Japan organize an event titled; ‘This is Liberal Arts: Summer Course 2011’, and we, IMPACT Japan, is helping them.  This course is designed for the high school students, and although the course is rather short (only for 1 week), I think this sort of independent positive actions well deserve supports, not to mention the excellence of the content the Harvard students are trying to develop.  I can see that students are pouring in much effort in building the program.  My message, as I quote below, is posted on our web site in which I describe my thoughts of the Liberal Arts education.

“The aim of the HCJI-LAB Liberal Arts Program is to provide a model for life-long learning, for engaging society in meaningful ways, and for making a difference in the world. Liberal arts education draws on the rich histories of human wisdom common to all cultures, as evidenced by a nation’s philosophical, religious, scientific and social traditions. What are the values that shape the decisions we make, and what new skills are needed to respond to the challenges of rapid technological and social change in an increasingly interconnected world? By emphasizing critical thinking, freedom of expression and experimentation, students will learn to make decisions that positively impact society and to develop meaningful ways of working in a globally connected marketplace. A liberal arts education prepares students for the leadership roles that will shape future generations.”

Higher education of a speciality or two could not meet the need of nurturing future leaders.


Nadeshiko Japan Grasps a Miraculous Victory, All of Japan Cheers the New World Cup Champion


Homare Sawa shot a miraculous heel shot goal, with just 4 minutes to play in the extra time, making the score even with the US.  Click here for the video.

After returning home from Washington DC on Saturday, the 16th, I spend the next day fighting against the jet-lag.  On Sunday the 17th, I watched on TV Darren Clark of Northern Ireland win the Championship at The Open in England.  Darren Clark gained victory after 20 times of challenging The Open which made this victory even more heart-warming..  Yuta Ikeda from Japan did fairly well in the final round.

After midnight of the 17th, from 3:30 am on 18th, the final match with US, the number one ranked team of the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off.  Since I did not want to miss this game, I took a short nap and started watching.  I think that the US team could have been frustrated because their aggressive play did not produce any goal in the first half, with a score of ‘0 ? 0’ ..  They might have been mentally tired a bit, too.  Japan was actually in possession of the ball 53% of the time versus the US at 47%.  The physical difference between the two teams was visibly clear, but Japanese players were  doing their best to overcome it.

In the latter half, Ms Morgan ’s beautiful shot resulted in 1 goal.  Japan of course fights back trying to score, but was unable to get the ball in the net.   With only 10 minutes to go, Japan plays beautifully just in front of the goal and leveled the score with a goal..  The game thus goes into extra time with the score tied at 1 – 1.

In the first half of the extra time, Wambach scored with a heading shot..  This goal might have made the US side believe that they won.  However, with just 3 minutes to go in the latter half, when the ball was corner kicked, Sawa caught it and shot a miraculous outside heel into the goal.  This evened the score again at 2 – 2.  Regulation time ended 3 minutes later.

So, next came the penalty shoot-out.  I think the Japanese team was in a better mood.  For some reason, the Japanese players were all smiling.  The first 3 US players missed their shots. Ayumi Kaihori, the goal keeper, blocked the 1st and the 3rd shots.  The success of the 4th player for Japan sealed a miraculous victory for Japan with a final score of 3 – 1.

What a game.  What a big surprise!  Both teams did great.  Sawa, the captain of the Japanese team, had shown not only wonderful leadership, but also has done a beautiful job of being in the right spots at the right times throughout the game.  For this effort works, Sawa was awarded the MVP and the Golden Boot.  Truly a wonderful achievement.

I think the keys to this victory were their spirit of togetherness, and the good management by the head coach, Norio Sasaki.

I was impressed.  It was truly a great game.  Nadeshiko Japan moved us all in many ways.  Thank you so much.

Many photos are uploaded here for you to enjoy.

The Nadeshiko team returned to Japan today with their faces shining with sense of achievement and happiness.  They are truly wonderful women, our pride.  I respect them deeply.  Their victory has had also a huge impact and serves to encourage the people of Tohoku.  Thank you, Nadeshiko Japan, for your wonderful work. 

Discussion With CSIS: Health Policy and Restructuring Japan After ‘3.11’


As I have mentioned earlier this year on my web site, we, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), are collaborating with CSIS, a well known Think Tank of the United States, on health policy issues.

The topics for our collaboration for this time are: 1. Payment System of Hospitals and 2. Application of ICT.

Since we now have drafts of the reports on the two themes, I came to Washington DC to jointly present interim reports and discuss the issues with the invited specialists from outside.

I arrived at Dulles airport from Narita at 10:40am, and headed directly from the airport to CSIS.  We discussed over lunch on the ‘recommendation for the restructuring of Japan’ which CSIS started to develop after ‘3.11’.

This theme is very complicated, to say the least, and there is no end in our discussion.

However, I enjoy discussing. Health care system issue is a huge problem and it takes a tremendous amount of time to achieve any reforms.  We are searching for realistic policies and the ways to apply those policies in order to bring about the desired changes in the existing systems.
It seems to me that the key is how to use the ‘3.11’ as a chance agent to restructure current social system.  Of course, we must develop good and deep understanding in the broad range of the public, and the process of how we do this is very important.

Japan has huge burdens; aging society, chronic diseases burden, expansion of income disparity, stagnating economy, and on top of that we are at the brink of bankruptcy.  We have hardly any time left for reforms.  If we do not turn this great crisis of ‘3.11’ to an oppoutunity for big chance , I seriously think that Japan could collapse.


The Last Space Shuttle, My America


The last Space Shuttle ‘Endeavor’ was successfully launched.

This is the end of one era.  I suppose that you each have your own different memories related to the Shuttles.

People of my generation would recall Apollo 11.  It landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969.  We watched part of the landing live on television.  It was the scene where Neil Armstrong, a human being, departed from the mother ship on Eagle, landed on the moon and walked on its surface.  These pictures were sent all the way from the moon.  Then they traveled all the way back.  July 16th, Florida 13:32:00 lift off, 20th 20:17:39 Lunar landing.

Such an exciting moment is rarely experienced in life.  Nothing like this ever took place in history.  And everything was on TV.  As I watched this in Japan, I thought of the greatness of America, a nation not afraid to show live this event to the whole world, in spite of the possibility of failure, this great adventure which no other country dared to challenge.

Many people in the world must have watched TV with a sense of awe.  America was in the height of science, technologies and engineering.  Japan, on the other hand, was gradually developing its confidence, having held the Tokyo Olympic game 5 years before.

The exchange rate at that time was 1$=360yen, the limit of carrying out dollars overseas rose from $500 to $700.  The salary of fresh graduates from university typically started from around 30,000 yen/month.

Back then, the Fukushima Dai-ichi (dai-ichi means ‘the 1st’) nuclear power plant was being constructed.  Nuclear fuel was installed in this plant in 1970, one year after the Apollo’s success.

1969 is also 6 years after the assassination of JFK (Nov 1963), 5 years after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, bombing of the North Vietnam (Aug 1964), and the expansion of the Vietnam war.  Domestically were the assassinations of Martin Ruther King Jr and Robert Kennedy (Apr and June 1968, respectively), the American civil rights movements and riots were at its peak.
In July 1969, after having witnessed the Apollo11 lunar landing, I left for the United States to continue my study.  It was my first time to go abroad.  I departed from Haneda airport and arrived at Honolulu airport, Hawaii.  There, I was offered a glass of pineapple juice, and I will never forget how good it tasted.

Same day, July 24th, at 16:50:35, Apollo11 splashed down at the Hawaii off shore, succeeded in return to Earth.  It was truly a great adventure of mankind which was to be marked in the history.  What a timing for me, too.  It was only a coincidence and not planned, but this memory is unforgettable.

It was the start of my 15 years of life in America, but back then, I did not have the slightest idea that this was going to happen.

What comes to your mind when you reflect upon this news of the ‘last space shuttle’?


Hot Summer, Town Event, ‘Quiet’ Japanese


It is hot summer now.  In Iwate or Miyagi where tsunami hit, people must be having hard time because of the heat.  Many problems must be solved; such as securing appropriate shelter, maintaining hygiene, or keeping their food safe and edible.  It was March when the Tsunami hit, there were even snowfalls then.  Time passes so quickly.
Through this disaster we saw how the ‘strength’ and ‘weakness’ of Japan was exposed to the world by the power of highly developed information technologies.  I have pointed this out repeatedly in this site(Ref.1, 2, 3), as you readers know.

This is the season of Tanabata (a summer festival in Japan), and it is so hot every day.  In the town where I live, we have a ‘Rio Carnival’ every year, and people paraded gaily again this year too, a view which so matches the hot summer.

It was a very hot Sunday. I found the sides of the streets packed with people.  Many street stalls stood alongside the narrow streets which made us feel the air even more heated.

The parade began.  Music just like in Rio (though the scale of everything is much smaller) starts almost noisily, including the sound of the drums. Men and women dressed up in festival clothes dancing in the parade move along.  This is actually quite a view.  Onlookers are busy taking pictures with their cell phones.  Dancers in brilliant costumes wave hands to the children who are watching on both sides, and many take pictures with the dancers.
I came across unexpectedly to my friend, a Korean news reporter, who was there with her child.

When we talked over the phone later that afternoon, she said to me ‘I was surprised by how quiet Japanese people were even at a jolly festival like this.  They don’t make sounds.  I myself shouted ‘bonita’ and such words over and over…. Japanese people are taking photos but…”

Actually, I did not notice this much, but it seems that such behavior gives somewhat an unusual or strange impression to the foreigners.  People in the parade are trying to encourage onlookers to join and stir up the festive mood but their efforts do not seem to be working.  Here again, I might say, the typical Japanese behavioral pattern of ‘follow others, try not to stick out…’ is prominent.

The ‘strength’ or ‘patience’ of the people at Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima exist in the behavioral pattern of Japanese as a whole – we act this way in every day life, and although foreigners admired it at time of the tragedy, such character could turn out to be very useful for their (Japanese) leaders.

Iadmit that Japanese have more tendencies to ‘suppress than pour out personal emotions, act in the same way as others’.  However, it is not good to act like this at all time.

I think it is much better to pour out emotions, especially a happy or gay feeling such as in this festival.

In the time of major disaster, being ‘stoic’ is good but not enough. Firm leadership is badly needed.


A Nice Email From Tatsuya Honjo


Starting in about April of last year, I became totally exasperated with universities due to their unchanging, unbending and unyielding mindset.  As part of my frustration, I advanced the notion of allowing students to take time off from their university studies for a quasi-sabbatical or gap year.  If you search this site for “Let Us Take a Leave of Absence From School” you will see that ever since my talk at the Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC) on April 8th 2010 that I have strongly encouraged students to take such a break.  You have probably seen many posts (Ref. 1) which talk about this subject since then.

It has been a little while since I posted my opinion in January that students should take a break from their studies and embark on travels overseas to get a taste of the world.  I say this despite the fact that I realize private universities often require a large payment of tuition fees even during such “sabbaticals”.

A number of private universities have greatly reduced the fees for students during this break from studies.  I really must express my appreciation to the university administrations.  So while I do offer my heartfelt thanks, their actions are actually no more than what should be expected.

I have just recently received a very nice email from a Tatsuya Honjo (Ref. 1) who, after hearing my talk, went off to Ghana despite the fact that he was a senior and had to halt his postgraduation job search.

Dear Dr. Kurokawa,

I hope that you are doing well.  I hope that you remember me, I am Tatsuya Honjo of Keio SFC.  I have recently take a break from university and gone to Ghana.

After thoroughly thinking over all the things that I have experienced in Ghana, I have recently decided that I will accept a full-time position in a company.  Thus, I will be working at Nissan Motors beginning next year. 

Nissan truly has a diversified workforce at the highest levels including female employees and foreign employees who have entered mid-career.

I think that in today’s global society that we are in a situation where it is important to study the various philosophies and approaches as part of deciding how we will live our lives in a manner that conforms to our own values.

By leaving Japan and coming into contact with value systems which are not found in Japan, I was able to understand, with all my being, the importance of living based on my own internal measuring stick. 

This was all the result of hearing about your recommendation to take time off from my school studies.

In the same vein, since I will be graduating in September of this year, and I have a whole six months before I have to start working in April of next year, I have decided to make the most of this time as a kind of “gap year.”

                                                                                Tatsuya Honjo


He seems like an entirely different person.  I really get a sense of confidence coming through what he has written.  I know that his parents were probably worried and anxious, but I really want to offer my congratulations.  I suspect that his parents were quite displeased with me due to pushing their son into a non-conventional career path.

There are a number of companies that hire this type of youth who have finally opened their eyes to their surroundings and the rest of the world.  Students should not focus all their energies and attention on just trying to secure employment, but also give some thought to the possibility of taking a leave of absence through organizations such as AIESEC

We should spread the word about the existence of companies that view these activities as a matter of course in their potential employees.  These companies have a value system which should be respected and are actually nothing out of the ordinary in the global world.

Companies also need to think about approaches other than simply interviewing and hiring university juniors and seniors en masse.  Society at large looks at corporation evaluations including actions such as rescinding of job offers.  This is one of the important points of CSR.  An impact is slowly being felt on evaluations. 

Work opportunities for the youth of today are not limited to Japan.  Thus, everyone should at least consider taking a leave of absence and taking on the challenges of going overseas, if even for a short period of time.