Paris in Autumn


I arrived at Paris in the midst of autumn at 6 am, after departing from Haneda at midnight.  The purpose of this visit is to attend the final jury of 2012 L’Oreal -UNESCO Women In Science Awardees.  A car from L’Oreal picked me up and took me to Hotel Concorde Opera. At the lobby, I noticed quite a number of tourists from Japan in and around the lobby.  Maybe it was because of the good season.  The weather was beautiful, not a single cloud in the sky, and the temperture was around 25-26℃ (77-79F).  I was told that it was rather cold until last week, though.

H.E. Kiso, the Ambassador of Japan to UNESCO kindly invited me to his official residence for lunch.  I have been to this place before,  but its been quite a long time since. Dr. Georges Haddad of UNESCO, former President of Sorbonne University (appointed to the presidency at young age of 37) joined us.  He was a fantastic person to talk with, having amazingly broad range of topics including the situation of Japan, and we all had such a nice, enjoyable conversation.

In the evening, I had a dinner at “Kei”, a very popular restaurant recently, with Dr. and Mrs Mimura of American Hospital of Paris.  Kei stands for Chief Kei Kobayashi. I was quite impressed to know his career.  Every dish is wonderful not only in its taste but also in the ways how they are presented.  He certainly well deserves the high reputation.  Why not try this place next time you visit Paris?

The next day was the selection of 2012 L’Oreal Awardees.  The discussion continued for about 7 long hours including lunch time.  After the hard work, we finally succeeded in choosing the 5 wonderful scientists which made us all happy. Participating in this sort of discussions, listening to various views, is very inspiring and there is much to learn from such experience.

In the evening, we enjoyed a concert, which is now a customary event.  We listened to 3 works each by Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly, and Samuel Barber (Piano by Garrick Ohlsson), conducted by  a much loved conductor from Korea, Myung-Whun Chung, who was appointed to the musical director of Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France for this Autumn season.  I find Chung’s crisp, sharp style of conducting very attractive.

At around 10 pm, after the concert, we stopped by at Drouant.  It was sometime past 1 am when we finally said good bye to each other.  It sure was a long day.

Anyway, whenever I come to Paris, I rediscover its beauty.  People in general are not too overweighed, many smoke on streets or at cafes, and many women are dressed nicely, that is, in a chic style, regardless of their age.

I plan to return to Paris next March for the award ceremony of L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award.  I very much look forward to coming back to this lovely city.

Board Meeting of Impact Japan


Six months passed since we established Impact Japan.  During these months, we all worked together to support various voluntary activities by people categorized as the “out of the box” type, especially the young people, launched a collaborative project with Project Hope for the Tohoku Earthquake, organized an educational program with Harvard College Initiative Japan, and such.

These activities stemmed out rather naturally from the activities with my friends and colleagues, around the time we launched TEDxTokyo.

Please “Google” Impact Japan.   Also, you can find many postings in this (my) site if you search by the keyword “Impact Japan”.

By reading these sites, you will see what we are up to or what sort of activities we are trying to focus on.

Six months have passed since Impact Japan has become an officially registered organization.  We had the first official board meeting recently.  Our Honorary Chairman, H.E. John V. Roos, the Ambassador of the United States to Japan,  honored us with his presence for about an hour and encouraged us with many ideas.

I hope that Impact Japan will overcome many challenges and continue its activities to support the youth, encourage the “out of box” type people, help coordinate all sorts of actions so that in the end they become a strong power to CHANGE Japan.

I thank from the bottom of my heart to all of you who help, support, and work for Impact Japan.  Please, by all means, continue to support us.



“How to Build a Global Career (世界級キャリアの作り方)”, 10th prints is coming soon


I believe that many of you who visit this site already know about, or have read my book with Professor Yoko Ishikura “Global Career – How to Build a Global Career (世界級キャリアの作り方)” (published in Japanese and Korean).

The book continues to sell well, and the publisher told us to print its 10th prints (each about 2,000 copies) with a note “the book sale exceeded a bench-mark of well selling book of '20,000 copies’”.

I am very pleased to hear this news.  It is a proof of how the book is attracting a strong attention from the public, particularly youth.

Today, we are living in a “global world” with many uncertainties.  I ask you to tell your friends and young people around you about this book.
I am pretty confident that this book has something to offer to every reader.


Magnificent Youths – 2


The title of this column is the same as the previous one and reflects my feelings after spending time with some truly magnificent youths in the past week. 

I have mentioned the GCMP (in Japanese) numerous times on this site, and I participated in the wrap-up meetings  (in Japanese) for the Bangladesh summer program of this year.  Everyone worked in an environment which is dramatically different from Japan and they talked about issues including “water,” “waste,” “health,” and “education.”  I also spoke myself and offered up several suggestions.  They were able to expand their horizons, really grow and widen their circle of acquaintances. 

Next up was the Asian Innovation Forum (Ref.1) organized by Nobuyuki Idei, formerly President of SONY.  I have had the honor of participating in this Forum for the past four years.  I found the Forum of two years ago extremely stimulating, had a more sedate experience last year, but once again found the Forum to be inspiring this year.  This return to form can be partially attributed to six months having elapsed since the events of 3.11.  We also have a new prime minister.  In the face of the rapidly changing world that we live in, one does wonder what those individuals who are our “leaders” of Japan are thinking.  The talk of Naoki Inose, the vice-governor of Tokyo, was straightforward and thoughtful. 

This year I was part of the How Innovation is Changing People, Companies and Society  and participated in the Closing Session panel and gave a Keynote Address.  In the course of these activities I got to hear the ideas and musings of Mr. Idei who is truly a thinker of great depth and perception. 

In the course of the two-day gathering, I had the opportunity to converse with the young participants over lunch and in the meetings, and was impressed with these passionate individuals.  I think, more than anything, that it is important for us to take on the role of pushing these youth to look beyond and outside of themselves and to create arenas for activities.  I believe that many “adults”, having grown up in a different era, do not have a basic understanding of the fundamental differences of days gone by and rapidly becoming uncertain times of globalization.   

I stepped outside after the end of the two-day forum into a raging storm. 

The GRIPS graduation ceremony was held on the 16th (photos) .  As generally happens every year, almost all of the fall graduates are students who spent time with us from abroad.  Attendees included ambassadors from many nations, embassy staff and others and the multicolored flags of many countries lined the campus.  Definitely not your typical Japanese graduation ceremony!  

It was, as always, an emotional and inspiring experience for me to just participate in this GRIPS graduation ceremony and send out youth who will become leaders of nations around the world. 


Summary of My Recent Activities: Singapore, Hiroshima, SoftBank, and Kanazawa Institute of Technology


I have been busy these days, which is nothing new….. And since my blog postings can not catch up with my real time activities, I would like to post here a summary of my recent activities.

From Sydney, I moved to Singapore.  Here, I visited several public institutions such as Temasek, National Research Foundation, EDB (Economic Development Board)A*STAR, and SPRING with my friends from Japan to promote mutual connections.  Arrangement of appointments with these institutions went quite smoothly because I have been in touch with them for many years as you will see if you search this web site by the key word “Singapore”.  Besides these visits, I also spent some time in Singapore with several private entrepreneurs or companies at meetings or meals.  Anyway, my impression here was that they are quick in understanding our points, very positive, fast in taking actions, so much that we started worrying about whether we can catch up with their speed in follow ups.  In this period of great transformation, nothing matters more than mutual personal trust, networks, and speed for action.

I had dinner with professor Ito (which is a regular event in Singapore) of A*star together with Dr. Shigeki Sugii (in Japanese),  Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore from this year after earning a PhD degree at Darthmouth University, and completing Postdoctoral research at UCSD.  I also had meals with several people including Ms Tan Siok Sun, the daughter in law of Goh Keng Swee, major figure with Lee Kuan Yew in the founding of Singapore.

On 10th, I went to Hiroshima to attend a meeting which was originally scheduled in March by Dr. Yorioka, my long time friend, a nephrologist who retired from the position of the Professor of Faculty of Medicine, University of Hiroshima this spring. The gathering was postponed because of the great disaster.  I gave a speech for about an hour.  Recently, I focus my speech on “Age of Uncertainty” because we are now living in the age of global transformation.  This theme, I believe, is relevant to everyone regardless of boundaries, especially to those who are working in the field of education.  I spent a great time here and enjoyed reunions with many old friends.

The next day, on Sunday, September 11th, I saw Dr. Azimi (Ref.1), former Director of UNITAR.  It has been a long time since I saw him before, and there were so many things to talk about, but unfortunately we ran out of time, and I had to leave for Tokyo.

The day was precisely the 10th year of the “9.11”.  The whole world remembered this day, and I think every each one of us, in memory of this tragedy that took place 10 years ago, strongly felt how drastically our world has changed since.  And it happens that this was also my birthday.  I went to the same restaurant as 10 years ago with my family.  I received so many Happy Birthday e-mails and stayed up until midnight sending reply to all messages.
On Monday, the 12th, I attended the International Conference for the launching of “Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (自然エネルギー財団)“.   This foundation was founded by Masayoshi Son of Soft Bank.  Multiple resources show that his keynote lecture  (Ref.1) was well accepted.  The program was nice with many guests from overseas.  This conference will continue for 3 days.

In the late afternoon, I gave a lecture at a gathering of business persons hosted by Kanazawa Institute of Technology .  My topic here was again “Age of Uncertainly”.  I used the same title as at Hiroshima, and talked basically the same things although I changed the outline a bit.  The huge hall was filled with quite a number of people.  I think my speech was welcomed by business persons, and especially people at the Kanazawa University, the host of this event.  Since I knew that Kanazawa University has enrollment of over 1000 students per grade, its employment rate exceeding 95%, which means that it holds a high position in the employment rate rankings (though there are a variety of this sort of rankings….), one research showed that Kanazawa University scored 9th in the national level, so I made some comments on the background of this fact, what it means, and what the issues of the companies are.

During this couple of weeks, I have been busier than ever before, seeing lots of people, attending many events, so many things tend to fall behind.

Magnificent Youth


The World Economic Forum (WEF) is well-known to visitors to this blog.  I think that people who visit this web site can get a sense of world events and new directions the world is moving in.  This Forum could be characterized as a multilevel network which links the world together horizontally, and it is a place for those individuals who are international leaders and have themselves been characterized as a “super class” in a book of the same name.

A conference was held last week in Dalian which has been dubbed the “Summer Davos” (a name that brings to mind Davos which is held in the winter).  More than a hundred attended from Japan, but my schedule did not permit me to make it.   The WEF Asian-Pacific Summit was held about a month ago in Indonesia, and I was unable to make that conference either.  I recommend the WEF site to everyone who wants to keep tabs on our rapidly changing world whose future is almost impossible to predict.

In light of these activities, Professor Klaus Schwab, who is the prime mover behind the WEF, has launched the new Global Shapers Community.  The aim is to broaden the arena for young activists who are striving to invigorate society.  William H. Saito, with whom I worked to launch Impact Japan in Japan, has been appointed as the Japanese Curator.  Impact Japan has also become a contact point.

Mr. Saito arrived back in Japan in the early hours of Saturday the 17th (actually he landed a bit after 5:00 in the morning on the day of the gathering).  Prof. Schwab, who had arrived in Japan the previous day, met with a gathering of approximately 30 youths in their 20s.  The Global Shapers Community was thus launched in the course of the subsequent 90-minute meeting.  Everyone, with the exception of 1, is someone who is working towards socially significant goals, setting up new organizations and engaging in entrepreneurial activities.  They are a hard-working and energetic group.


I beseech adults before they start to say “the young people of today are so  . . .” to think about these youths who are actively engaged and to offer them support.  There are also a number of youths based overseas.  Mr. Atsuyoshi Saisho and Mr. Yusuke Matsuda (in Japanese) who I have talked about previously in this blog also participated.  All of them are setting high goals and aggressively tackling them even while running into obstacles and dealing with major setbacks. 

This network of youthful activists which expands beyond borders should surely invigorate Japan.

Sydney Opera House


I left Hayman Island after the ADC Forum for Sydney and stayed there for overnight for time adjustment.

The weather was beautiful next morning, and I had free time for about half of the day.  So, of course, I headed right away to the Opera House and enjoyed a very relaxing time.

What is amazing about this Opera House is, that the more you take a close look at it, the more you see how it was built with a vision for the future, integrated plans to materialize the vision – not only within its structural design, but also in the contents and wonderful programs that continue to attract people of the world to this day.  In short, this House has a great “magnetic power” that comes only from something produced with long term perspectives.

On the other hand, it seems to me that the national policies of Japan lack such dynamic, big concepts based on the understandings of current and future standpoint of itself in the global settings as I sense in this Opera House.  After all, our national policies are essentially nothing but the output of the “small town community” mindset traditionally nurtured within each ministries, which, as Tatsuru UCHIDA put it, is the reason why “Japan tends inherently to be a follower/responder rather than leader in the world affairs ” (Ref.1 in Japanese).

I decided to spend rest of my time at Bondi Beach, and had lunch at an Italian restaurant run by a young Jewish fellow from Israel.  I enjoyed talking about various things with him.  By the way, Bondi Beach is also famous for its Life Saving Club as well as the Icebergs.

Now, I will pick up my baggage at the hotel, go to the airport, and fly to Singapore.

Coming Back to Hayman Island


After Okinawa, I returned to Tokyo to join in the Talent Show, a program which started in the late afternoon on the day before the closing of the Liberal Arts Program for high school students.  We enjoyed various performances by the participating students such as wonderful piano music (a semi-professional level!).  In the evening everyone returned to the Ryokan (Japanese-style inn) and I joined in their Reflection.  This epoch-making event will be over in only one more day.

Next day, on the 25th, I left Japan for the Hayman Island at the Great Barrier Reef to participate in the ADC Forum which I quite enjoyed last year. I took a chartered flight from Sydney to Hamilton, connecting to the high speed boat to Hayman Island.  My baggage did not arrive, though.  Anyway, after taking a short rest, I went to the venue to attend the sessions.
Next day started with the dynamic talk by Nik Gowing of BBC titled “Acute vulnerability for business, governments and systems in the new public information space” with comments on various issues such as the recent demonstrations spreading from the Middle East to London, indiscriminate gun shooting in Norway, political climate in the U.S. , or even the Tsunami and the nuclear power plant issue of Japan.

This day, I was in the panel of; “Green Growth approaches ? any easier now?”, “The reconstruction of Japan”.  One of the participants in this panel, Prof Jean-Pierre Lehman of IMD who is a regular participant of the Davos Meeting studied in Japan when young and took classes of Dr. Masao Maruyama, so I asked him to talk about this experience a bit.  I also hosted “Lenses on science ? frontiers in the information revolution”. Drs Robert Bishop, John Mattick and Aaron O’Connel commented respectively on Virtual human brain、the value of the non-coding ‘junk DNA’, and Quantum mechanics.  I opened this session by introducing “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil, but I honestly think talking about things like this without using slides is not an easy task, especially if it is about Quantum mechanics. Dr O’Conner gave a presentation about this at this year’s TED2011 (Ref.1), too.  What are your thoughts about it?  The discussion following his presentation is also uploaded on this web site.

Next day, I participated in the Closing panel (photo).  Since the boat to Hamilton was to leave in half an hour after the closing, I was in the panel dressed in casual clothes.  The discussion in the panel was quite good.

Wonderful settings, wonderful people, nice reunion with friends… But unfortunately my schedule was so packed that I did not have spare time even to go to the outdoor pool just outside of my room.

From Hamilton, I will head to Sydney.