I have stated repeatedly in this blog that while the youth of today in Japan are often accused of being too inward-oriented and isolationist, it is really Japanese society itself that has long been inward looking and isolationist.
This attitude has become widely known since the events of 3.11. The international intelligentsia is also knowledgeable and aware of this. However, the weakness of this isolationist society was laid bared by the events of 3.11.
An extremely important theme for Japan, as we head into the future, is the education and nurturing of our youth and the greater empowerment of women as I previously talked about in my blog entry on the “L’Oreal Women in Science Fellowship, Astronaut Naoko Yamazaki Wins Special Award.”
I previously talked about the International Conference for Women in Business and after participating in a discussion on Connecting Beyond Borders at this International Conference, I joined in on a gathering held by the students of the Global Agenda Seminar (GAS) (in Japanese) (Ref. 1, 2) of Professor Yoko Ishikura with whom I have worked together.
Then five of the participants presented their projects and project status (in English, of course). They all did a good job, particularly in light of the fact that they were not speaking in their native language. The whole experience at GAS truly changed the participants. Many of them seemed to be reconsidering their current employment and their careers.
Professor Ishikura overwhelmed everyone during her recap at the end of this get-together with rejuvenated energy, imagination and spirit that came after the trials and tribulations associated with her new job at Keio University in this past April. Changing your surroundings can be a real slog, but such moves can also open one up to new developments and possibilities. I myself have experienced the process of adapting to new surroundings and circumstances and overcoming challenges because in the course of my own career working between the United States and Japan, the longest I have been in one place is eight years. Individuals who have not gone through such an experience cannot really understand its magnitude.
After the session was over, an afterparty was arranged for everyone. I also attended and listened to the experience of others who had travelled the path of changing jobs.
I was scheduled to talk in the upcoming week at the Global Health Human Resource Training Seminar. The seminar was attended by approximately 20 very energetic and passionate individuals with many of them also interested in carving out a career in international issues. All in all, a very enjoyable time.
What I really want for the future is for these young people to get real life experiences in the real world, get up close and personal with what is going on on the ground and grapple with the difficulties inherent in real challenges and in the course of all these activities, expand their options and exhibit real growth. Such individuals will be able to take their place in the world at large.
The youth will be creating the Japan of the future in the global world. Many of these youth are now working on writing a “beautiful resume.”