Distinguished Achievement Award by the Tokyo American Club


I had the honor of receiving the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Tokyo American Club (TAC). It is an award that started in 1995 -see the list of awardees.

I was on the cover story of the January issue of “iTOUCH” magazine and as this was in the lounge of Narita Airport, I received emails about it from some friends. The title of piece of my interview was “The Protuding Nail” (pp. 23-27). There are some small, old pictures of myself and colleagues during my University of California days, which made me think fondly of those times.

If you read the article, it will be clear who recommended me. I would like to express my sincere thanks.

The day after returning from Boston, on February 18, I attended the celebratory event by the TAC. Minoru Makihara, the executive consultant of Mitsubishi Corporation, the wife of Ambassador Roos, and former Ambassador and Mrs Fujisaki, who had been the Japanese Ambassador to the Unites States until last year (although the Ambassador had to leave early), as well as many friends including those from GRIPS, HGPI and IMPACTJapan were kind enough to attend.

The awards ceremony began with my introduction, followed by my short speech, and a friendly discussion for forty minutes.

In my speech, I touched upon being a “decent” Japanese, as well as various individuals who were bridges between Japan and the United States, especially Beate Sirota Gordon, who passed away at the end of last year. I would be pleased if you would read a little about her.

Many happy things have continued for me.


AAAS Awards Ceremony


On the morning of the 14th I departed Paris and headed to Boston. I attended the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Awards Ceremony on the evening of 15th to be awarded the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award.

It was a transit flight from Paris via JFK. As I was spending time at the lounge, I saw a tweet of Professor Ishii from MIT Media Lab who I recently met in January, “Got to JFK airport from Barcelona. 1 more jump to Boston.”  Wow! and I tweeted back, “Are we on the same plane ?AA 1790 to Boston?” and in 10 minutes I found Mr. Ishii walking in front of me. It was a funny coincidence and we ended up chatting for a while.

The road from the Boston airport to the hotel was very congested and it took over an hour to reach. Probably it was affected by the heavy snow from the previous weekend. After checking in, I met up with my friend and went for dinner.

Next day, after registering for AAAS, I headed to the venue and as I entered the exhibition hall I checked out the “Japan” booth. Some of the top programs including RIKEN, WPI were displayed and I had the opportunity to talk with various people. A bit away from those, I found the exhibition booth of OIST(1). I asked several staff from Japan to consider displaying them altogether from next year.

As I was wondering around the venue, it was very hard to decide which session to attend. Especially the Plenaries had been highly selected and hence were intellectually stimulating and eye-opening. MIT’s Professor Sheryl Turkle(1)’s “The Robotic Moment” was a thought-provoking lecture on the development of science and technology and the change in the lifestyle of humans, especially amongst the children in aged society. I am thinking of reading her review article.

The AAAS Award Ceremony gave out about eight awards and for each individual and the reason for the award was mentioned by the chairman Dr. Press. Upon receiving the award, the ‘shield’, from AAAS CEO Dr. Leschner, we needed to give a speech of about three to four minutes. My speech was well-received. Other than those who I have previously introduced on this website, including Dr. Bruce Alberts (Editor-in-Chief of ‘Science’)(1), Nina Fedroff (last year’s president of AAAS and this year the chairwoman)(1),  and Norman Neureiter(1), a couple more friends from Japan were also present. After the reception and the dinner with the committee of the award, I went for the after party with my Japanese associates.

Although I only spent two nights in Boston, from the positive appraisal of NAIIC by the world’s scientists and science journalists, I felt their gratitude towards the NAIIC team and empathy towards the people in Fukushima and their concerns on the future direction of the Fukushima incident. I would like to sense the trust and the state of Japan in this world of uncertainty.

At five o’clock next morning I headed to the airport and returned home from the seven day round-the-world trip. It was tiring indeed but I had fulfilling time both in Paris and Boston.


OECD Conference in Paris


I flew to Paris on February 11. I was invited to serve on the the Knowledge Based Capital panel held on the 13th and 14th. I was invited to speak o the opening panel of Day 1. I decided to use this opportunity to see some people in Paris, thus I left Tokyo one day early.

I checked into the hotel around 5 pm of the same day (Feb 11th) and had dinner at the residence of Ambassador Yoshikawa, Representative of Japan to the OECD. It is the same place I visited at the time of former Ambassador Hattori.

In the morning of the 12th, I went to the OECD with two people who as volunteers,work for Table for Two, then onto lunch with Chairman Laurent Stricker of WANO and meeting with Commissioner Philippe Jamet of the Nuclear Safety Authority, who I had met in Tokyo in December.

In the evening, I had an American Hospital in Paris (AHP) related dinner with ten people of the French financial and business world and some from Japanese companies. We enjoyed French cuisine at Dominique Bouchet. We discussed many topics, beginning with the National Diet of Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). We ended up hardly talking about AHP, but since they are all diverse and multitalented people, we had a wonderful conversation.

The next day was the OECD meeting. I served as a panelist on the first panel with Minister Willets of the United Kingdom, Minister Ljung of Sweden, and Mr. Landefeld of the United States. The panel was moderated by Mr. Wyckoff of the OECD. I stood up and gave a presentation for ten minutes. The audience was mainly composed of government officials and policy makers, so I stated that the change the world is currently going through must be the biggest change since the industrial revolution. I handed out two slides, one originally by Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and another by Chairman Komiyama of the Mitsubishi Research Institute.

I was able to meet with many people from Japan who are working in the OECD. Yuko Harayama, who previously worked here for two years as a senior executive, attended the conference. She was on her way back from the UK and I met with her for the first time in a while.

I left the conference for a bit and visited the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Over lunch, I discussed many matters with Jaques Repussard and other top officials. This was one of the places members of NAIIC visited in March of last year. Frank discussions are helpful for understanding each other.

Afterwards, I returned to the OECD for the last two panels, reception and dinner. Here too, I had the opportunity to speak with many people.

Many people gave me very positive feedback on my talk. I believe it was good that I provided a wider framework for everyone to think broadly at the start of the panel conference.

I leave for Boston tomorrow morning.


Seminar Series in Preparation for the Conference on African Development, Article on Japanese ODA


In June of this year, the Japanese government will hold the TICAD5 (Tokyo International Conference on Africa 5) (in Japanese). At the TICAD4 five years ago, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) was able to develop many ties (1, 2).

These past ten years, I have had many opportunities to be involved with Africa. Many pages will come up if you search “Africa” on this website.

As one of the activities in preparation for the TICAD5, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), in partnership with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) (1) will hold a series of five seminars on Africa. The theme is how Japan should work with Africa, which has many problems but is developing.

The first seminar (in Japanese) was a discussion moderated by the new Chairman of JCIE Mr. Ken Shibusawa, with myself, as the representative of HGPI, and Shigemi Sato, who connects Japan and Africa through businessmen.

Many young people came and we had a pleasant and meaningful time.

It is important that this kind of series will make more people think about the perspective of “Africa and Japan in a global world,” and also raise awareness of what Japan can offer to the world.

Since 1960 onwards, Japan has given much development assistance to many developing countries in Asia. Dr. Murakami of HGPI recently wrote a review of the Japanese ODA policy in the Harvard Asia Quarterly. Such research is important when considering the future of Japan’s international policy.

Following these past twenty years of the global era, it is important to think broadly with everyone about what kind of policies we should implement. There should be more opportunities for diverse business in the future.

In the twenty-first century, the world is changing in an unpredictable way, moving into a precarious era. We must learn from the past, watch the world carefully, as well as have a sense of how Japan is viewed from the world.


In San Francisco and at Stanford University


EDF is an environmental advocacy group set up in 1967, during a period when many new movements were sprouting up. This was the period when Rachel Carson’s seminal book ‘Silent Spring’ came out, as well as the period when the Vietnam War was escalating.

At EDF, scientists and lawyers come together in order to solve pressing social problems through policies and politics. I was in the US around that time (in 1969) and so feel I know the social background out of which this movement rose up.

I was invited by the board of trustees of this organization to join its ‘Science Day’ event, and I decided to accept and so found myself in San Francisco. I think they invited me because the theme this time was nuclear energy.

I reached San Francisco a day early on the 4th of February, and was invited to give a seminar the next day at APARC in Stanford University. Another reason I was there was to meet professor Takeo Hoshi, who had just joined Stanford from UC San Diego where he had been for about 20 years.

My seminar was attended by Masahiko Aoki and many others, and I was also able to have an informal discussion of around 2 hours after my hour-and-a-half seminar.

The EDF meeting the next day was attended by the likes of Burton Richter and John F. Ahearne (a key member of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which compiled a report for the Three Mile Island Accident (March 1979), who then become Chairman of the Commission two months after the release of the Kemeny Report), all giants in their respective fields, and thanks to the participation of many experts in environmental and energy problems, a lively discussion took place. It was interesting to be in a conference with such a long discussion.

I stayed at Cavallo Point, located in Sausalito, at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The good Californian weather made it an enjoyable 3 days.


Davos -2



Copyright by World Economic Forum.
swiss-image.ch/Photo Remy Steinegger.

Many business and government leaders from all over the world come to gather at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. There is a great advantage with so many people here at one time in this small village, as there are plenty of opportunities to make behind the scenes arrangements in politics and business. The interviews (1, in Japanese) by Ms. Iida of NHK were also possible because she was in Davos. Those whose work is conducted behind the cameras, like Ms. Iida, are also very busy. Aside from the usual work, many extra preparations are necessary before coming to and after arriving in Davos, such as setting up appointments, reserving places and times, and chasing and getting hold of people.

Even for business conferences, there is a rule that only one top person from each company can attend (even secretaries are not allowed), so there is a whole other set of meetings held outside of the conferences at hotels.

On the 25th (Friday), there was a breakfast meeting of around twenty people from Japan and China. As no politicians attended the meeting, we enjoyed a frank discussion. Afterwards, the Global Agenda Council was held in which the three chairs of Japan, China and South Korea (China was the representative) held a one hour private discussion.

In the afternoon, there was the usual conference between the leaders of the world’s chemical companies which I have been invited to. It allows people to listen in and study. The regulars from Japan were Mitsubishi Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical, and Teijin but many elements are involved and the topics are now broadening from chemistry to include biotech-sciences.

On the 26th, Saturday, there was a panel titled “The Japan Growth Context” (1), which was moderated by former British Ambassador to Japan Sir David Wright and was comprised of the following panelists: Minister Motegi of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (I heard that Minister Motegi was moving about the conference arena by himself afterwards), President Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceutical, Chairman Kobayashi of Mitsubishi Chemical, Mr. Heizo Takenaka, and myself. As NHK news reports, there are high expectations for the Abe Cabinet, but the question is what to do about economic growth. Around one hundred people were in the audience, of which about eighty percent were Japanese, and several good questions were raised. I spoke mainly of the significance of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the delay in the women empowerment in the Japanese society (WEForum’s 2012 report shows that Japan is ranked 102 out of 134 countries on the Gender Empowerment), and the insular mind-set of many Japanese people’s, though these are topics I always discuss.

Afterwards, I went to a private conference on US foreign policy, and later rode the cable car up the Weissfluhjoch in Parsenn, to enjoy the beautiful weather. Everyone was skiing. I rested there a little while and then returned back down to the conferences.

At night, I attended a soiree. We took a mountain tram to reach the luxury hotel, Schatzalp, where it was held. The hotel is the sanatorium in Thomas Mann’s book Magic Mountain.

Professor Takeuchi of Harvard Business School and his wife were with me; Professor M. Useem of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who chaired my earlier panel (see my posting ‘Davos -1’) introduced me to many people and I had a very enjoyable evening.

The next day, I woke up early and took a bus to Zurich. The flight from Zurich delayed two hours before departure. I arrived in Narita at three in the afternoon the next day.