My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4

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I share with you the 4th section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

4. Highly acclaimed abroad

The NAIIC report has received high acclaim abroad. The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest science association in the world and internationally highly respected (this organization publishes the leading weekly journal, “Science,” as one of its many activities) selected me for the “Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award” (1). Moreover, the magazine “Foreign Policy” listed me as one of the “100 Top Global Thinkers 2012” (2). Although I was given these honors, it goes without saying that I represent the entire NAIIC team and accept them on their behalf. Even now, I remember feeling especially moved regarding the reason why Foreign Policy selected me: “For daring to tell a complacent country that groupthink can kill.”

In this past year and a half, I have been invited to give many lectures, speeches and interviews abroad. I have tried my best to take on as many as possible. The whole world watched the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and the subsequent response with great concern and I believe that spreading the message and promoting greater understanding of the NAIIC report is an extremely important part of the process of reestablishing international trust in Japan.

In particular, I have been asked by numerous nuclear experts abroad to give interviews and lectures on crisis management for major accidents. The world wants to learn from this severe accident. Unfortunately, however, many overseas experts have told me that when they ask the people with responsibility in the Japanese government, bureaucracy, TEPCO, industry and academia about the fundamental causes of the accident, the responses they receive are often vague and difficult to understand. They often express to me their frustration and disappointment.

When I speak at international conferences, many government officials and industry experts react with surprise and disbelief upon hearing that NAIIC was the first independent investigation commission by a newly enacted law by the National Diet, in the history of the constitutional democratic Japan (3). In the UK, for example, various independent commissions are set up each year. Particularly in the case of the BSE crisis in the UK (4), the British government accepted and implemented the recommendations of the report by the EU independent investigative commission, which had a very high level of transparency. The UK government implemented the necessary policies and after twenty years since the BSE incident, the UK Government was able to export beef. This is an excellent example of how a country should respond after its government has lost public trust.

In the US, there are over one hundred independent investigation commissions, especially by the National Academy of Sciences, set up at the requests of the government and Congress. In response to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, a two-year commission was set up in August 2012, with plans to submit a report in June 2014.

In Oslo, Norway in the summer of 2011, a bomb explosion hit central government buildings, followed by fatal shootings two hours later (5), coordinated by the same extremist. In response to this major attack, the parliament swiftly set up an independent investigation commission. The report submitted after one year of investigations (6), severely criticized the executive government for its lack of adequate supervision and intensely pursued the prime minister and cabinet to take responsibility. In November 2012, when the Prime Minister of Norway visited Japan, he requested to have a meeting with me and we had the chance to have an hour-long discussion.

I have had many opportunities to meet with people from the US, UK and French governments and nuclear industries. When examining the fundamental causes and background behind the Fukushima accident, I believe Mr. Uda’s book provides a hint to further understanding.

References:
1. http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2012/1203kurokawa_award.shtmlhttp://kiyoshikurokawa.com/wp-content/uploads/typepad/aaasspeach.pdf (Award ceremony speech)
2. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/11/26/the_fp_100_global_thinkers?page=0,41#thinker63
3. Makoto Shirai, Acts of Parliament (2013), Shinzansha Publisher Co., Ltd.
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bovine_spongiform_encephalopathy
5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Norway_attacks
6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gj%C3%B8rv_Report_(2012)

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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 3

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I share with you the 3rd section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

3. Building the NAIIC Team

As NAIIC Commission was the first of its kind in Japan, I had many concerns with the establishment and operation of the organization. The ten Commission members, including myself, were selected by the National Diet but I had the responsibility to choose the researchers and staff who would support the work of the Commissioners. It was difficult to find people who could work full time for only six months at the National Diet, as most people had their main occupations. Furthermore, finding the right project manager for the whole operation was key.

Even if the Commissioners had their own individual opinions, this in itself would not form a report. I knew that I would need an incredibly talented project manager who would be able to direct the operation and overall project while respecting the research by the Commissioners, which would form the basis of the report. Such an individual must not only possess the necessary capabilities and experience, but also be able to instinctively understand the sense of purpose and values of NAIIC.

So I wondered whom I should ask and who would take on such a role. Several people came to mind but Mr. Uda was the only one whom I could entrust with the position. Although I had not worked with him personally, I knew of his work reforming the Japan Postal service and governmental organizations. After speaking with him on the phone for fifteen minutes or so, he accepted the position. I remember feeling very happy and thinking that with Mr. Uda on board, there was a good chance of NAIIC being successful. We met a few times afterwards, leading up to the official ceremony of my appointment as Chair on December 8th at the National Diet.

As I had hoped, Mr. Uda understood and shared my view on NAIIC without needing any explanation. This was critical to the operation of the team. This project was the first of its kind in the history of the Japanese Constitution and there were only six months to compile and submit the report as mandated by the law. In order to recruit such top project management and to gather a team of highly capable staff, you must have a network of multi-talented people.

As I had expected, many problems arose during the course of the investigation but Mr. Uda and my stance towards the Commission did not waver throughout. This is one of the reasons why NAIIC was able to achieve the result of being evaluated highly by you and especially internationally.

This fundamental position of the NAIIC team allowed the compilation of the report to follow the steps of ‘presenting only the facts’, ‘avoiding the inclusion of personal views to the extent possible’ and ‘obtaining the consensus and signatures of all Commission members’. Moreover, the NAIIC report was reviewed by an independent body of peer reviewers, in the way that academic reports are peer reviewed. This reflected our wishes for the NAIIC report as well as the writing process to be peer reviewed by not only experts in Japan but from around the world, even within the many constraints that we faced.

→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1
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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2

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I share with you the 2nd section of my ‘Epilogue’ of the new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organizations Fails’ by Mr. Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

2. The stance we took at NAIIC

I would now like to turn to talk about the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC).

In my remarks to the National Diet upon my appointment as the Chair of the Commission(*1), I set forth my position of how I viewed NAIIC, the first independent investigation commission established in the history of the Japanese constitutional government; how I appreciated the weight of the mandate given to the Commission by the highest institution of the country, the legislative branch; and how I would operate the investigation.

Instead of speaking only to the members of parliament, government officials and TEPCO workers involved in the accident, I believed it was crucial to make my position clear to the Japanese public and to the other Commissioners in the public arena of the National Diet (as there was little time to even have proper discussions with the other Commission members beforehand). Thus, I set forth my position in the first three minutes and last two minutes of my speech when I accepted my duty as the Chair.

When receiving the official appointment, I stated the three key principles that were to guide the six-month investigation. Three key words represented the principles: the People, the Future and the World. Then, I stated this Commission is: (1) Commission of the people, by the people and for the people; (2) providing recommendations for the future from lessons learned from the past; and (3) bearing the responsibility to share the lessons with the rest of the world.

At the end of the ceremony, I gave the following remarks:

Today is December 8th, the seventieth anniversary of the Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. In August of each year, many television programs and documentaries that focus on the accounts of high government and military officials survived the Pacific War are aired throughout Japan. One phrase that often comes up in these survivors’ narratives is, “I knew what was happening and what I knew, but could not say what I had to say.” In the past couple of weeks, there have been TV documentaries on the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, which present the accounts of former executives of the nuclear power industry and the government high officials engaged in nuclear energy of Japan. When listening to their stories, I believe that many people of Japan have sensed a similarity between the narratives of those in the government of Japan and TEPCO and of those World War II survivors. This leads to the observation that in Japan, people in positions of high responsibility are repeating the same errors of those in high positions in the past and have not learned from history. I would like to contemplate and reflect on this.

*1
http://www.shugiin.go.jp/internet/itdb_kaigiroku.nsf/html/kaigiroku/025117920111208003.htm
http://www.shugiintv.go.jp/jp/index.php?ex=VL&deli_id=41488&media_type=

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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 5
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1

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I introduced in my posting of May 26th, this year, a new book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ by Mr Sakon Uda, who served Project Manager of NAIIC. In this book, I contributed a 20 pages ‘Epilogue’. With permission of the Publisher, I will share my Epilogue with you.

Epilogue, ‘Obligation to Dissent’: What We Citizens Should Do Now
Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chair of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC)

The Message of Mr. Uda’s Book

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident was unparalleled in history and was on the same scale as the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. In the aftermath of the accident, many investigations and research reports were presented both in and outside of Japan. However, how have TEPCO and the Japanese government responded since then? The Japanese public must be wondering, what is really occurring now and what are TEPCO and the Japanese government doing about it?

Particularly, regarding the subsequent leakage of contaminated water from the power plant, many people in the Japanese public must be appalled by the lack of planning, the poor response and the lack of transparency throughout the decision making process by both TEPCO and the government. Around the world, experts in the field have been critical and major news agencies have often reported on the lack of planning and responsibility taken by TEPCO and the government.

What should we do? We must think about this. As this major accident was historically unprecedented, the difficulty in formulating a strategy is understandable. A solution will not simply arise by merely offering criticism. So then, what should we do? This is where we must bring together our knowledge and wisdom.

Throughout his career as a consultant, Mr. Uda, the author of this book, has advised on the reform of private sector companies. Moreover, starting with the privatization of the Japanese Post Service, he also has considerable experience diving into public sector organizations and pushing forward reforms.
In this book, Mr. Uda has presented the problem of being fixed in a certain mindset, which he faced in the post service reform and when leading the investigation as the Managing Director of Investigation of NAIIC. Not to be mistaken, this understanding was not derived from reductionist theories on Japan, such as “Nihonjin-ron” or “collectivism” but rather from a professional standpoint, which developed out of Mr. Uda’s extensive work in organizational reform and was informed by many examples observed throughout his consulting career.

→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 1
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 2
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→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 4
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 5
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (1)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 6 (2)
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 7
→ My ‘Epilogue’ of Mr Uda’s Book ‘Obligation to Dissent: Why Organization Fails’ – 8

‘Be Movement’ Interviews Me

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‘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.

Before and After March 11th

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As I mentioned in my blog post on the 11th of March, these past two weeks have been occupied by events related to the work I did in the capacity of the Chairman of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission by the National Diet, a commission that is the first of its kind in the history of Japan’s constitutional government.

At Tokyo University, I was invited to speak at an event organised by Kan Itou and his collaborators. Here I was invited to speak for 20 minutes about the NAIIC report, but unfortunately, that was all I did, as I left right after my speech to go to Ueno station to board a Shinkansen for Sendai in Tohoku. In a program titled ‘Sendai for Startups! 2014’, the group Impact Japan and the Sendai local government worked in tandem to provide a stage for entrepreneurs and business start-ups. Ms. Oikawa of Oikawa Denim (link in Japanese) presented as a local entrepreneur, while I presented Impact Japan’s new initiative in partnership with Sendai, IntilaQ.

This was followed by a lecture at Club Kanto, and then a 2-day meeting at the Swiss Embassy, after which I spent my weekend participating in an event organised by ‘The Simplest Explanation of the NAIIC’ and the Japanese Red Cross Society (link in Japanese), an event attended and by many high school and university students. It was an opportunity to learn of the ongoing struggle of the evacuees, showing the complexity of the damage caused by the triple disaster. As if this were not enough, I followed up with a visit to Bunkyo ward in Tokyo, and then had an opportunity to listen to Dr. Muto (link in Japanese), who is widely credited for having successfully introduced a new system of medical system into tsunami-devastated Ishinomaki city. The event was prepared by the Japan-North America Medical Exchange Foundation (JANAMEF) and fittingly spoke of the ever-changing situation in the world and how it affected the future of Japan.

Although change here in Japan is a slow and laborious process, there are some glimmers of hope in the actions of the young people of today. I wish them success in their endeavours!

Steps Towards Safer Nuclear Energy: The U.S.A GAO Report and the NAIIC Report

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In any democratic setup, the separation of the three powers of the Government, administration, legislature and judiciary is a core necessity, with independent organisations  acting as watchdogs necessary for the proper functioning according to democratic principles.

The United States of America has the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to fulfill this role. Functioning under the legislative banch, ie, the Congress, it used to be called the General Accounting Office (the Japanese equivalent being the Board of Audit of Japan) till 2004, after which it changed to the present name.

This organization has recently published a report titled ”Nuclear Safety: Countries’ Regulatory Bodies Have Made Changes in Response to the Fukushima Daiichi Accident”, in which the NAIIC Report has been mentioned 6 or 7 times.

I am happy to have been part of the Commission, the first of its kind in constitutionally governed Japan, that has set a precedent for the further reforms that are urgently needed in the structure of governance in Japan. The NAIIC report has exposed the fragilities inherent in the present structure in a clinical and precise manner that can be likened to a medical check-up using a whole body CT scan, with us pointing out the problems that need to be remedied to the patient, in this case, the Japanese government.

A controversial point I made in the report was shown through my pinpointing Japanese ‘culture’ and ‘mindset’ as important causes of the accident, something for which I was heavily criticized by some media. However, the IAEA and the GAO have both acknowledged this proposition, judging from the fact that the IAEA is hosting a ‘Workshop on Global Safety Culture – National Factors Relevant to Safety Culture’, the 8th-11th of April. The first of its kind to approach Nuclear Safety from this standpoint, it is a encouraging response to the lessons learnt from Fukushima.

Interestingly, I have not been sent a notification nor an invitation by both the Japanese government and the IAEA. It is through an overseas colleague of mine that I heard about this workshop.

I had a similar experience in 2012. I leave you think about why, and to reach your own conclusions.

The 3rd Anniversary of March 11

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Sorry for not updating my blog more often, but today is a day I must write. For the many people who have suffered the unimaginable, and continue to suffer in the aftermath of the events of 3.11, and the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, an event of such gravity that the Japanese government for the first time n her constitutional democratic history, set up an independent committee to investigate it, resulting in a report that has been submitted to both Houses in the Diet a year and 8 months go. I must write today because I was the chair of the committee that was in charge of the investigation.

Elsewhere in the world, many regions are gripped by drastic changes. Syria, Ukraine illustrate perfectly the tumultuous period that we live in. In sorry contrast, the unchanging situation in Japan is dominated by the political-industrial-bureaucratic complex, despite the glaring errors and gross negligence exposed in the aftermath of 3.11.

Yesterday (March 10th) was spent at the Japan National Press Club conference, in a two hour debate session with panelists such as G. Jazcko, the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Yotaro Hatamura, former chairman of the Investigation Committee on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident by the Cabinet, and Koichi Kitazawa, former chairman of the Independent Investigation Committee of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident by a private sector. The full video of the proceedings can be accessed here on Youtube.

With the time for reserved for each speaker as told to be limited to around 6 minutes, I showed them a short excerpt of a video titled ‘What is the NAIIC?’ to help the audience understand what was so different about this investigation as seen from the various documentation, reports and publications. I also introduced the notion of ‘Accountability’ into the debate. My aim was not to go into details but rather introduce the issue as a way of understanding the various processes involved in the functioning of a large society governed according to democratic rules, and of the constantly changing situation in Japan and abroad.

I think that accountability is important because we need to ascertain the mindset of what those in power, how committed they are to their responsibilities. I was also interested in what the audience had learnt from the accident, how they felt about the situation, and what they were changing in their own life styles and values in response to the accident. Most of the participants were in media-related jobs, ie, journalists, and I really wanted to question them on their understanding.

The South China Morning Post also featured an interview of me, please see the link. I am pleased to note that the video, ‘What is the NAIIC Report’ is also mentioned. My comments on Safecast have also been included.

All eyes are upon Japan as it deals with the aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. After all, there are 440 other such nuclear reactors in the world with the potential of causing similar accidents, plus 70 more under construction.

As greater information connectivity through Internet brings about an increasingly globalised world, transparency across all spheres, whether it be the state, the government, companies, media outlets, universities will be increasingly important in order to be trusted.

The Situation at Fukushima, An article in the Washington Post

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It is already two and half years since the accident at Fukushima, yet there is virtually no one who would consider that the situation has been suitably has been stabilized. The media reports one problem after the other: contamination of groundwater, leakage of radioactive water, the problems posed by rainfall. Indeed, this is a critical issue not only for the Japanese but also for the world.

The biggest question right now on everybody’s mind is whether the Japanese government has made an accurate appraisal of the ability of TEPCO in allowing to deal with a disaster of this magnitude. The government too, is resorting to its usual way of dealing with such problems: setting up a committee, in this case, the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. It remains to be seen how open to debate, how transparent and how international this committee will become.

Although TEPCO invited an international advisory committee that in itself is not enough. Transparency in areas such as how serious TEPCO is about dealing with the situation, and what measures it plans to take, and what it is learning are needed in order to lend credence to the whole process. Yet even here, there are many problems. One of these reports came from Lady Barbara Judge, vice-chair of TEPCO Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee and it was carried on the 16th page of the October 22nd Nikkei newspaper morning edition.

We are not the only ones worried about the situation. That the Washington Post carried an article about Fukushima Daiichi on its first three pages on the 21st of October, and the New York Times on the 4th of September, speak volumes about the critical stance of foreign media. To appear as the top article in the printed version is quite impactful and the illustration in On-line version of Washington Post is well done.

By the way, I would like to introduce Junichi Kobayashi (blog, twitter @idonochawan), who translates one foreign media article into Japanese everyday. Predictably, most of the articles these days have to do with Fukushima Daiichi, but it is a good source of information if one wants to get a sense of how the world is currently viewing Japan.

I am thankful for his efforts, for it requires a great deal of effort to accomplish what he is doing.

Newspaper Article in the Netherlands

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The problem of leakage of contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is still ongoing and has become widely known throughout the world. The media abroad has been reporting frequently on this fragile situation.

I served as the chairman of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC), the first independent investigation commission in the constitutional history of Japan, and the Commission’s report has been highly evaluated by the world. As a result, I have been interviewed many times by the foreign press. This is a major issue facing Japan and I feel it is my duty to speak out in the media.

Recently, I was interviewed by Trouw, the major newspaper in the Netherlands. Through this website, I received an email from Ms. Nishimoto, who read this article and kindly translated it into Japanese. This is possible in the age of the internet. I made some edits and it can be read here in Japanese version. Its English version was translated by Mr. Wouter van Cleef, who wrote the original article in Dutch.

“Japan Needs Independent and ‘Against the Grain’ Thinkers.” (Trouw, 2013/9/16)
in English
in Japanese

I would like to send my thanks to Ms. Nishimoto.

My message in the article is quite the same as you see often in my blog posts, eg, most recent one, my speech at GRIPS Commencement.