Gathering for Assistance for Africa, Ms. Anayango


There is an organization composed of Japanese businesses, the Gates Foundation, and the Japanese government, which tackles the major diseases troubling developing countries, namely malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and others. It is called the Global Health Innovation Technology Fund (1) and I am the representative of the board of directors.

Malaria No More Japan, Health and Global Policy Institute and GHIT Fund co-organized a campaign event centered on young people. It was a very fun and lively gathering.

I met with a young doctor who I had encountered two years ago in Nairobi, as well as Dr. Sugimoto. I had not seen them for a while and it was nice to catch up with them. Dr. Sugimoto was in Japan but his family is in Nairobi.

Nyatiti is a traditional instrument in Kenya that can only be played by men but Ms. Anyango (Eriko Mukouyama) (1, 2) is the exception and she gave a marvelous performance playing the nyatiti and singing.

Japanese women are strong. Anyango was entranced by African music, went to Africa by herself and since then has been actively performing in the world. She must have encountered some obstacles along the way and it is impressive that she was the first woman to have been given the right to play this instrument.

It was a wonderful evening.

To Abu Dhabi and Her Highness of Qatar’s Visit to Japan


I arrived in Abu Dhabi on April 20th to take part in the Board Members’ meeting and graduation ceremony at Khalifa University. There are 350 students graduating this year. This university specializes in science and technology and is attracting many bright students.

The graduation ceremony took place at the Emirates Palace. The President of Khalifa University, Tod Laursen has held his position for four years and will see his first cohort of students graduate. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was also present at the ceremony. Each student was handed the graduation certificate individually, signifying the significance and thought that went into the graduation.

I departed Dubai late that evening, or rather the next morning, at 3am and landed in Kansai Airport. Her Highness Moza of Qatar was visiting Japan and I joined the Qatar Foundation that day. The next day, I visited Kyoto University and joined Her Highness Moza’s tour of Shinya Yamanaka’s iPS Research Center. The next day, I joined their visit to Riken in Kobe and met with Chairman Noyori and went to the signing ceremony.

Japan’s relations with Abu Dhabi and Qatar have been centered on oil and gas but in these past ten years, mainly through the field of scientific research, efforts have been made for greater cooperation in human resources training. At the beginning of this year, there were several events held at Tokyo University between the main heads of the universities in Abu Dhabi and Japanese universities. In March, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi made a visit to Japan. During his stay, he visited the Tokai University Korin campus and spoke with Vice President Yasuhiro Yamashita regarding more interaction through judo as well as the joint development of solar cars.

Encouraging greater cooperation with the Middle East regarding human resource development is a wonderful thing for Japanese government and businesses, which tend to think of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates only in terms of business relations.

It is a challenge for not only Japan, but for all countries to develop individuals who can understand and reach out across the world.

Japanese universities should also build on their own unique strengths and have greater interaction and cooperation with the world.

A Bright and Energetic Next Generation


Last week, Ken Endo of SONY CSL, the breeding ground of crazy and eccentric individuals, stopped by my office along with Mr. Dai Tamesue and Mr. Sugahara of RDS. He came to announce that he has started a venture business in order to continue the research he had been conducting at MIT on prosthetics.

I have known him since he was studying for a PhD at MIT. I have supported him at See-D (in Japanese) and others.

While he has been active in promoting events that support people in poverty who use prosthetics due to accidents or land mines, he has also working with Paralympic athletes to further push forward the possibilities of humankind. One of his professors at MIT is Hugh Herr, who gave an astounding presentation on prosthetics at this year’s TED talk. With this technology, it may be possible for Paralympic athletes to surpass the record set by Olympic athletes. This was recently the case in the match between a computer and professional Japanese chess player (in Japanese).

Mr. Sugie of WHILL also came to visit, the first time since he moved his base to Silicon Valley. WHILL is a venture business that was set up by young engineers from four major Japanese companies. They introduced me to Mr. Hasegawa of WINGLE (in Japanese), which supports children who have unique talents that are less compatible with conventional educational methods.

Also, Mr. Matsuda of Teach for Japan, who I introduced on this site just recently was featured in the Globe section of the Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese).

There are many amazing individuals who are active in a wide spectrum of areas.

Twenty Years Since the Rwandan Genocide


The other day, I was invited to the Embassy of Rwanda by Ambassador Charles Murigande.

We talked for an hour at the Embassy in Fukasawa Setagaya, where the cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

I have not been to Rwanda yet but have some links ( 1 , 2 ) to Rwanda.

When I mentioned Romain Murenzi, the Executive Director of The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), whom I have met with on a number of occasions, it turned out that he and the Ambassador are longtime friends, even having attended the same school and sitting next to each other in class. They have both served as governmental ministers and are also scientists.

The tragedy of the Rwandan Genocide started in April twenty years ago. Today, Rwanda has overcome this sadness and has transformed into a new country that looks remarkably different from its past.

The Ambassador had some documents with him and told me he had attended the GRIPS Commencement ceremony last September and that he had been very moved by my speech.

It was a meeting in which I felt that we had many common friends and stories to share.

Getting The Terms Right: Accountability and Risk Communication in the Japanese Language


I have talked about Jun Kurihara previously in my blog posts ( 1 in Japanese2 ). He widely reads and erudite, and boasts a repertoire that ranges from classics to contemporary books written in several languages. He uses his considerable linguistic ability to access literature in various languages, making his insights to be sharper and insightful. It is always a joy to talk with him, and we are never short for topics to talk about.

He is one of the few people who understand when I use the word accountability. In Japan, it is often translated to mean ‘responsibility to explain’, but this is a serious misunderstanding. The word accountability is used to denote ‘the fulfilment of duties and responsibilities one carries, encompassing more than the mere explanation that the wrong translation suggests.

Regarding this topic, Professor Kiyoshi Yamamoto’s ( in Japanese ; in English, ‘How ‘Accountability’ has become ‘Responsibility of Explain’ in Japanese’ ) excellent book is worth reading. And Mr. Kurihara has already started quoting him, as I shall talk about later.

Last year in June, when I was presenting at the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S, I stated that in Japan the the word ‘Accountability’ means ‘Responsibility to explain’, thus a typical case of ‘Lost in Translation’, there was a strange reactions, ‘uproar’ , among the audience.

In a similar case, Mr. Kurihara has commented on the word ‘Risk Communication’ within his column ( in Japanese ), and if one reads it, one can understand why I have not used this word within the NAIIC Report.

Loaning words from a different language ( in this case English ) is fraught with opportunities for misunderstanding, and we need to make sure that we understand in what sense the word is being used.

‘Be Movement’ Interviews Me


‘Be Movement’ is one of the most exciting emerging media in this net-savvy age. It is good to see young people embrace the possibilities of a globalised age and try out new things.

Recently, they carried a special issue about Japan, perhaps in commemoration of the third anniversary of the East Japan and Fukushima disasters.

An article about Mr. Kogure of ‘Table for Two’ comes right after my interview. Given the focus of their special issue, they paid special attention to what I had to say about the NAIIC Report.

Although a bit long, I would like to request my readers to go through the interview during their spare time.

JAPAN’S SPIRIT -Strength through the Storm-
(be movement pp114-122)

My thanks go to Cassie Lim and her team.