Young People at AIESEC


I have reported several times on this web site that I support “AIESEC” , an organization working to promote university students’ internships at overseas.

When I participated in the AIESEC convention of last year, I was very much moved to hear the stories of Japanese university students who went to internships at India, Brazil, Philippine, and other countries, to overcome many obstacles and unexpected troubles.  This event of last year was postponed from the originally scheduled date due to the wake of the 3.11 disaster.  One of the speakers, a Chinese student, talked about her wonderful experience at a company in Sendai, a quake stricken area .  Her internship, she said, became a trigger for that particular company to consider expansion to China, and that she is now helping them make plans for the move. 

The AIESEC convention of this year (in Japanese) which took place this March was held at GRIPS, where I work.  More than 100 students and many supporters gathered again, and I was happy to be a part of them.  The program included a very energetic encouraging speech by Mr. Kan Suzuki, former vice minister of MEXT  as well as the presentations by the seven students who were selected from the participants of this year’s internships, describing their confusion, hardships, and sense of accomplishments which moved the audience very much.  After the speech was the announcement of the recipients of the “Global Internship of the Year” awards.

Then, we listened to the stories of the students who arranged the internship in Japan, trying to match foreign students with the Japanese companies, the difficulties they had to overcome, the growth and awakening which resulted from those experiences.  All the students in the venue, as well as the judges, representatives from the supporting companies, shared together this wonderful half day.  Awards were also presented to the students who worked to link the supporting enterprises with the potential interns, to express appreciation to the enterprises.

Next weekend, I went to an event which was held in part to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the AIESEC Asia-Pacific Chapter, spending a marvelous time with 250 or so young people from all parts of Asia Pacific.  In the closing speech of the second day, I commented that a true asset for them in the future, when they become the leaders of this rapidly changing, un-foreseeable world, is, for example, such experience as spending time together for a week in this camp.

I can tell you, Japanese youths are working to pave their ways, just like the youths in other nations.  I am truly proud of them and am looking forward to see the outcomes in the future.

Media Lab in Tokyo -2


I reported to you in my posting of the other day about the MIT media Lab in Tokyo.  I hope you were able to have a glimpse of how it went by browsing through the links I have included in the text.

My friends and I are exploring the possibilities of launching something that would offer young people in Japan to experience, even for just a short period, the free and lively atmosphere which MIT Media Lab possess.

By the way, the Asahi Newspaper (Ref.1) (in Japanese) covered this event of MIT Media Lab in Tokyo in its digital newspaper of March 3.

As you see in this article, I commented that the drive force of changes in all times are the  “Crazy Ones”. They are, for example, Galileo or Darwin, the founders of modern science, and other change makers of each age.  In our time, we have Steve Jobs, the change maker of the 20th century.

It has been a broadly shared assumption until last year or so, that young people in Japan are “too inward oriented and isolationalist”, or “in low spirit”, but this seems doubtful to me.   From my point of view, it is more likely that there were not much “role models” broadly recognized in our society whom young people could look up to as their goals.

The drive force for change in any time is the “misfits of the time”, “out of the box talents”.  To name just a few from Japan of 40-50 years ago, are Mr. Ibuka and Mr. Morita of SONY, Mr. Soichiro Honda of Honda, or Mr. Ogura of Black Cat (Kuroneko Yamato).  I am certain that all of those people were labeld as misfits of the society back then.

In recent years follow Mr. Yanai of UniQlo, Mr. Mikitani of Rakuten, Mr. Son of Soft Bank, Mr. Niinami of Lawson, and so on.   They were also categorized as the “misfits” until just recetly.  Mr. Joi Ito, the Director of MIT Media Lab, is clearly one of them, too.

These people responded to the great quake and tsunami that hit Japan with great speed and drastic measures.

Yes, there is a lot to see in this world.  I urge you to go and grasp every bit of chance to expose yourself to things that might become your great goal, or things that you will find truely exciting, things that are worth persuing with all of your passion.  For university students, as I write in my blog postings every now and then, it would be a good option to follow my advice and “Take Leave of Absence from School”.

It is my hope and wish that “3.11” will become an big opportunity for young people to take leadership in realizing the “Third Opening of Japan”