To Okinawa again, the closing ceremony of Asian Youth Development Program in Okinawa (AYDPO)


AYDPO 2014 marks the seventh year that this program has been running.

I have reported on this program (1, 2, 3, 4) a few times on this blog. It is a program in which young people from Japan and other Asian countries, aged fourteen to sixteen spend three weeks together in Okinawa.

Each year, I have participated in either the opening or closing ceremony. This year, I gave a speech at the closing ceremony. The students who participated this year proposed making a “GIA Green International Academy” on the Kerama Islands and gave a presentation on this. As in past years, the former Governor of Okinawa, Mr. Inamine also was in attendance. Dr. Iwama, the new President of Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and one of the new leaders of Okinawa, also made his way to the ceremony.

The young people who participated all spoke in English, their common language and they were very good. The closing ceremony was a special time and as it happens every year, all of the students all cried, including the university students, sad to say goodbye to their new friends, with whom they formed very close bonds and became like sisters and brothers.

This program actually began at the time of the first Abe government, when I was a special advisor and assisted with AYDPO (formery AYEPO) establishment. Continuing and spreading programs such as these, and developing young people who are active in the changing world and share memorable experiences with friends across borders is vital to our world.

Through Facebook, the students who participated in this program remain connected with the university students who became like their older sister and brother mentors. I also continue to stay in touch with a young person who was a university student when this program began and is now in Indonesia.

Being connected in this day and age of the internet is important and very useful in stay in touch.

HLAB 2014


The season of HLAB (1) has come. HLAB started in 2011 in the summer after the Great Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and this is the fourth year that the program has been running. This year it started on August 15th, which also marks the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II.

University students who have participated in HLAB in the past, including those who were enrolled in the program as high school students, were in charge of planning the program. It must have been challenging as some of them conducted the planning from universities abroad but the project took off successfully.

The opening day was held at GRIPS, as it had been last year. From there, the HLAB program kicked off for nine days and eight nights. This year, I was chosen to speak at the opening ceremony. The theme for the students was “the future of the world and your choices” but I imagined that many of the high school students were quite nervous, so I tried to cheer them on by noting the fact that forty percent of the high school students who were enrolled in this program in past years applied to and were accepted by universities abroad and that I looked forward to seeing how the students this year will be at the end of the nine-day program.

This year, Minoru Ben Makihara of Mitsubishi Corporation, who attended Harvard University as an undergraduate and has supported HLAB from the very beginning, gave a remarkable speech on his time as a student studying abroad sixty-five years ago.

I looked forward to the rest of the program and enjoyed the “Reflection” at the lodge where the students and I had discussions until 11pm.

This year, we had a special guest, Tatekawa Shinoharu (in Japanese), who is an alumnus of Yale University and gave a performance of “English rakugo” at GRIPS on the 12th. It was an amazing and enjoyable performance.

On the last day, Saturday the 23rd, we returned to GRIPS once more. Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi of Harvard University also joined us. At the closing ceremony, everyone cried and it was a very memorable and moving experience.

In my speech at the closing ceremony, I had the privilege of pointing out that it is experiences such as these that are the moments we remember throughout our lives and are the truly important things in life.

The spirit of education is giving back or ‘virtuous cycle, a sense of each own’s gratitude’ (in Japanese) and this was exemplified through the HLAB alumni who returned as university students to eagerly support the next generation of high school students.

The founder of HLAB, Mr. Kobayashi, graduated from Harvard University and has returned to lead HLAB 2014 in Tokushima, which took place at the same time as the one in Tokyo. It is quite an impressive feat to have come this far.

Schedule – August 2014

Health and Global Policy Institute Forum “Post 3.11? Protecting disaster survivors’ health 3.5 years after the disaster?”
Date & Time: August 23, 2014 (Fri) 18:00-20:30
Venue: Hotel Metropolitan Morioka New Wing
Contact: HGPI (Health and Global Policy Institute) TEL: +81-3-5511-8521 FAX: +81-3-5511-8523


Asian Youth Development Program in Okinawa
“Uncertain Times: Changing Principle”
Date & Time: August 22, 2014(Fri) 14:15-15:15
Venue: Okinawa Convention Center

To Aizu-Wakamatsu


On August 6th, I visited Aizu-Wakamatsu for the “Platinum Future Leaders Seminar at Aizu” (in Japanese) for junior high school students, in their first to third years (7-9th graders in US). It is one of the projects chaired by Hiroshi Komiyama, former President of Tokyo University.

During the car ride from Koriyama station to Aizu, I visited the areas where I was evacuated during the war in my childhood. The places included the area south of Sekito station on the Ban-etsu West line, with Kaneda-kanemagari to the side and Tenjin-hama, where I used to play when I was little. Next, I visited the house near Inawashiro where Noguchi Hideo (in Japanese) was born.

The venue of the Seminar was the university campus, where I had visited a few times. Most of the students who participated were born after 1999, as they are currently junior high school students. Many changes in the world have been taking place since they have reached this age.

I was able to hear only the latter half of Ms Tamako Mitarai‘s lecture, which was right before mine, but I felt that she had many points that we had in common (please forgive me if I am wrong). We had an energetic audience and everyone asked lots of questions.

After our talks, the students came on the stage and we all took pictures, shook hands and then took a group picture together. We had a very good time.

Afterwards, I visited the famous Nisshinkan of the Aizu-han (1) (in Japanese). Visiting hours had already ended but they were kind enough to guide me this old school. There is a statue of Kenjiro Yamakawa (1) (in Japanese) (built in 2004), whom I respect deeply. The Nisshinkan looks similar to Yushima Seido and also has a statue of Confucius. Even when seen today, it is an amazing school.

Later, I met with Ms Hachisuka, who was a Commissioner at the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. She still resides in temporary housing.

Many people evacuated to Aizu-wakamatsu from Okuma village, the site of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The Okuma town headquarter is still here at Aizu-Wakamatsu since immediately after the accident, many evacuees from Okuma village stayed in a business hotel in Aizu. Ms Hachisuka and I had dinner at the restaurant above this hotel, where we met the owner of the hotel, had sashimi and tempura and spent some time talking.

My heart goes out to the evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

July, Gone in a Flash


I have not posted a new entry since the end of June. I apologize for the delay, I became busy with many things.

From the end of June to the beginning of July, I gave seminars for four days in a row, including over the weekend. I spoke at Mr. Takejiro Sueyoshi’s CSO Seminar, Ms Yoko Ishikura’s Global Agenda Seminar, and the Global Leadership Studies Seminar at International Christian University(ICU). Including the Q&A sessions, the longer seminars lasted over three hours. It was great to see many energetic, young people.

I also took part in the MIT Media Lab @ Tokyo 2014 at Toranomon Hills. I also attended the award ceremony of the 2014 L’Oreal – UNESCO For Women in Science Japan Award (1) at the official residence of the French Ambassador, among others.

At the end of July, I visited Paris for a meeting with the OECD. It was part of the World Dementia Council, which I reported on in April and began in London. I had half a day off so I went to see the Orangerie Museum.

As many unexpected things happened, the summer has become quite busy.