March 11; Five Years from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident; My New Book, “Regulatory Capture”; At Cornell University in Ithaca


Five years have passed since the terrible tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. How much progress has really been made in the reconstruction efforts? It is a difficult issue.

A few nuclear power plants have been restarted in Japan but it seems that accidents and problems are occurring rather frequently.

Dealing with the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident will likely take many more decades. We are faced with many major challenges and obstacles now and in the future, with no idea of how long we must cope with them.

Having served as the Chairman of the first independent investigative commission under the National Diet in Japan, the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), I decided to publish my book, “Regulatory Capture: When Groupthink Can Kill” at this time. It can be found in bookstores or ordered online on Amazon. It is my sincere hope that many people will read it. If Japan remains in its current situation, the future does not look promising.

As part of the book launch, I held press conferences at the Japan National Press Club and the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. The conferences can be viewed on YouTube.

This was my fifth time speaking at the Japan National Press Club regarding the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Each time, my message has been fundamentally the same: the world is changing but will Japan change?

Right after the press conference, I traveled to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, directed by Professor Hirokazu Miyazaki, invited me to speak at the roundtable discussion, “Nuclear Power Roundtable: Five Years after Fukushima.”

The panelists were Professor Charles Perrow of Princeton University and Professor Sonja Schmid of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. I always enjoy taking part in such discussions. After the roundtable, we attended the reception and dinner.

The next day, I had breakfast with professors and students from Japan. In the evening, I invited two post-docs from Japan and China to join me for dinner and we chatted about various topics.

The subject of conversation that came up often during my visit was how few Japanese students and professors there were over here.

The world is filled with possibilities and I encourage young people to challenge themselves more. The world is waiting for you.

My New Book on Regulatory Capture, Now Available


Five years have passed since the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the unprecedented Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

Three months before the earthquake and nuclear power plant disaster, the Arab Spring had begun in Tunisia.

The Arab Spring quickly spread to North Africa, the Middle East and now the region is experiencing a crisis that was unimaginable a few years ago, with a massive outpouring of refugees from North Africa and Syria to the EU.

In the midst of all of these major changes that have occurred throughout the world over the past five years, how has Japan changed?

With this question in mind, I focused on the lack of change in Japan in my new book on regulatory capture, through the lens of my experience as the Chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) , the first independent investigation commission in Japanese constitutional democratic history.

It will be available in stores on March 10th and can be ordered on Amazon.

Today, I held a press conference at the National Press Club of Japan, where I introduced the book and spoke about these issues.

I would be honored if you would read it.

Health Policy Summit 2016


The annual summit of the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) took place on February 27th from midday at the Meguro Gajoen. Apart from conferences, this venue is used mostly for weddings and has opulent decor. On top of this, the day of the summit had nice, sunny weather.

HGPI was ranked as being in sixth place in the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report in the category of “global health policy think tanks” (p.92) and was ranked in fifteenth place in the category of “top domestic health policy think tanks” (p.90). As a small, independent think tank, this is quite an achievement. It is due to the tremendous efforts of the staff at HGPI.

I had just returned from London the day before but everyone who participated, the speakers on the three panels, as well as the excellent moderators, made for a lively and interesting afternoon.

The first panel, “Sustainability in Health Care” had the following panelists: Hirotaka Unami, the Senior Director for Social Security Budget, Ministry of Finance; Toshihiko Takeda, Director-General for Policy Planning and Evaluation, Social Security, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; and Robert Alan Feldman, the Managing Director, Chief Economist, Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co., Ltd. The moderator was the Mariko Oyamada, the Manager, Health and Global Policy Institute.

This panel focused on the issue of whether the public healthcare system in Japan, which the country takes great pride in, is sustainable in the face of a tight budget and an aging society. It was a very frank and open discussion and a nice opening for the whole summit.

The second panel, “Global Health- G7 Summit and Beyond,” had the following panelists: Kenji Shibuya, Professor, at the University of Tokyo who is internationally minded; Yasuhiro Suzuki, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare who is also internationally minded; and Yoshiharu Yoneyama of JICA. The moderator was Anne Smith of HGPI.

We discussed a wide range of topics, including Japan’s contributions to global health so far; the agenda of the G7 Summit that will be held in May; and the potential for developments of partnerships which extend beyond Japan, in particular PPPs (public-private-partnerships) such as GHIT.

Japan’s contributions to the G7/G8 Summits in the area of global heath has been remarkable and the next challenge is how to further develop them to the next stage. The issues of poverty and health and diseases are some of the underlying causes of the instability that we feel in this world.

The third panel, “The Future of Health Care” had the following panelists, who come from different backgrounds: Seigo Izumo, who recently moved to Takeda Pharmaceutical Company; Tomiko Tawaragi, the Chief Safety Officer at the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA); and Shinsuke Muto who is very energetic. The panel was moderated by Ryoji Noritake of HGPI.

Both Dr. Izumo and Dr. Muto have unique careers amongst Japanese medical doctors- they are movers and shakers on a global scale and have interesting experiences to share, so their views have a major impact. Mr. Tawagi has built his career at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and had a clear message.

We received many comments from people with global perspectives and it seemed that there was a major push for Japan to end its “isolation” and become a more open country.

I felt that this was a very fruitful day where we had a meaningful discussion, including with our members and the audience.

I would like to express my gratitude towards all of the people who continue to support HGPI.

Furthermore, I would like to thank the team members of HGPI, the OB/OG, as well as the interns and students for their hard work.

The report on this summit is summarized here.

Visit to London, the next Step for the World Dementia Council


The World Dementia Council (WDC), was established in December 2013 at the G8 Dementia Summit held in the UK by the initiative of the British government. I have written a few entries on the WDC on this blog.

Since then, two years have already passed and the British government alone cannot continue to provide funding and leadership of the Council interminably. Yet, dementia remains one of the most pressing issues, so this year, it reformed its organizational structure to become an independent, truly global organization, with the strong support of the UK.

This conference was held in London and I participated as a Commissioner and traveled from Abu Dhabi to London. A few new Council members joined the Council and I was happy to learn that we have a few mutual friends.

It is a critical time for Prime Minister Cameron, who will preside over the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU in June.

Dementia could be an item on the agenda for the G7 Summit to be held in May in Japan, and supporting UK initiative would be an important issue for Japan- UK relations.

On the 24th, a conference was held by the CEO Initiative (CEOi), comprised mostly of private sector companies. Many companies and foundations participated and it was a productive conference. In particular, there are many promising efforts on the topic of big data to keep an eye on. Recently in Japan, IBM has been especially active in the area of big data and its partnership with IBM Watson has been in the news.



The World Dementia Council has re-formed into an independent, global council at its seventh meeting on February 25 in London. The Council has been renewed to reflect the significance of dementia as a global issue. Dr. Kurokawa will continue to serve as a member of the Council.

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