MIT Media Lab in Tokyo


MIT Media Lab is well known throughout the world and in Japan as a quite “obstinate” existence in that it aims to “Build the Future”.  The existence of this Lab is well recognized by the world for this unique character.

It was last year that Mr. Joi Ito (Ref.1), a Japanese, but rather more popular as a “global citizen”, was appointed to be the director of the Media Lab, and this attracted people’s attentions in Japan through the coverage by various medias.

I, too, introduced this topic on my web site.  

On January 17th, the “MIT Media Lab@Tokyo 2012” was held in Tokyo.  Dr. Negroponte, the founder of the Media Lab in 1985, also joined in this event to tell us the history of how the Japanese companies supported Media Lab.  Dr. Negroponte is also well known for the project “One Laptop Per Child” (Ref.1), an aid to Africa, and this time he showed me a new “Tablet” .

A prestigious university working on “outrageous, unprecedented” projects.  Such universities are, I think, the drive force for developing human capital that will transform the world.  Those universities are the producers of the “Out of the Box” talent, the “Change Makers”.

Dr. Ishii, the associate director, also joined with us in this event

All speakers very passionately delivered their speech and presented their demonstrations.  I participated in the dialogue with Joi.  Then, I went back to my work at the Congressional Investigation Committee on Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident, and returned again in the evening to join in the reception of the Media Lab which I enjoyed very much.

This whole event is uploaded on Ustream (Ref.1). 

The video starts with the Opening by Joi (the approximate time in the Ustream is “00:00:00–”), followed by the presentations of Dr. Hilgado “00:23:20–” Dr. Ishii “00:45:55–”, dialogue of Joi and myself “01:00:50–”, panel of Joi with “Out of the Box” people in major Japanese corporations “01:22:45–” and so on.  Take a look and enjoy.

Why don’t you go to the Media Lab?  Something inside you might change.  I also urge all Japanese companies to support this extraordinary Lab.

The Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants -3


I have posted two columns under this title since the New Year’s day.  Reports about this committee also appears in the English version of Japanese medias, so I received a number of messages and e-mails from my friends living abroad as well.

English reports appear on Yomiuri and Kyodo, for example.  I believe there are more, if you search for them….

I also intend to express my thoughts in English as much as possible.

Dr. Sunil Chako, a good friend of mine, recently contributed an article to the Huffingtonpost, a well known On-line English media.  I was very happy to read his article.

Your support is a great encouragement to us.


The Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants -2


As I reported on the New Year’s day, the “Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants” (click here for videos) was launched officially on December 8th last year.  On this day, the nine committee members and I received the official notice of appointment at the Parliament from the Presidents of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. This ceremony was followed by a session where the ten committee members made comments and representatives from all political parties expressed their thoughts and expectations towards this committee.

This whole event was broadcasted live from the Parliament and now the audiovisual record of all the comments of the committee members as well as all the requests from the members of the congress are uploaded at the  "Shugiin TV"  for public viewing.  My comments as the chair of this committee appears at the start of this session, and also in the end after all representatives from every political party have presented their “requests” to our committee.  By the way, it happens that 70 years ago on this day, the 8th of December, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor to join in the World War II.   It was truly the beginning of the great tragedy of our nation.  I could not help touching upon this historical coincidence when I talked about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party who served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, and one of the key persons to set up this committee, writes about this issue in his blog several times.  Mr. Shiozaki also wrote a record of the whole process of the making of this committee and published it as a book in mid December titled “ ‘The Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident of the Nuclear Power Plants’ – A Challenge From the Legislature (「国会原発事故調査委員会」立法府からの挑戦状)” (this book is published in Japanese only).

At any rate, we are now at the start of a very challenging year.


The Year 2012 Starts With a New Big Challenge


A Happy New Year.

During the past month, i.e. since December 6th of last year, I have not written any new columns nor did send any messages via twitter.

The reason is, as you may already know, that I was suddenly appointed to chair the “Committee to investigate the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants”.  The relevant laws for creating a committee that is independent from the government and the parliament passed the Diet, as is described in media by words such as “organized by the Diet, totally independent”, or “the very first in the 60 some years’ history of our constitutional government”.  On December 8th, the nine committee members and I received the official notice of appointment at the Parliament from the Presidents of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors.

If you search my name on the “news” sites in the web, you will find various reports (Ref.1) (both links are in Japanese) on this  issue.

What a big unexpected challenge I was appointed to!  I used to be one of the members of the “nongovernment Fukushima nuclear plant accident investigating committee”(in Japanese) chaired by Dr. Koichi Kitazawa (in Japanese), former Director of JST, but I resigned from this position for this new responsibility.

I will gradually explain to you, from time to time, the various challenges this committee face, but I think the most important and great challenge is how we – the nine members and I – share the mission of this committee and perform our investigations and analysis.  Every member is extremely busy with their own work, and on top of that, we have to recruit all of the administrative staffs and create rules on how to conduct this investigation as a whole.  So, I had to withhold from making any comments in public until the basic rules were defined within our own committee.  I hope you will understand the situation I had been in.

The “gravity of ‘the very first in the history of Japan’s constitutional government’” is not just about the historical impact to the system of our democracy, but it also refers to the countless difficult issues derived from the fact that this sort of investigation has “never taken place before”.  Therefore, I must say, the operation of this committee is by itself a huge challenge to all of us.

After the official launching of our committee, we traveled right away on December 18th (Sunday) to the site of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident (covering ourselves with heavy protective equipments…), Okuma town located near the nuclear power plant which now looked like a deserted ghost town, and places where decontamination was in progress. On the next day, the 19 th (Monday), we visited the temporary housings of the evacuees and another decontamination site.  (Ref.1) (both links are in Japanese)

The year of 2011 ended with an unexpected big surprise for me, and now the new year of 2012 started.