Participating in the TICAD6 in Nairobi – 3


After the Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize workshop, I went to a nearby hotel where a conference on Non-communicable diseases (NCD) was being held. I made good on a promise to deliver the keynote speech. After this talk, there was a panel discussion, which I had to leave halfway through  (the audience was made up of mainly medical professionals, and I received emails congratulating me on the unexpected but important nature of my talk) to get back to the Hilton in order to attend the GHIT meeting in the afternoon.

Here at this GHIT Fund meeting, Dr. Greenwood and Dr. Coutinho, recipients of the Noguchi Africa Prize, were also on stage, making the proceedings very lively. I arrived when the panel was already wrapping up, and after the closing words, we headed out to the poolside of the Hilton Hotel where the GHIT Fund had prepared a reception.

The special artist invited to perform during this reception evening was Anyango. She is a young Japanese woman who went to Kenya to learn more about the particular African music and instrument that had so captured her imagination. After years of hard work in an apprenticeship, she became proficient enough to earn the right to play instruments, a right traditionally held by men.

She had already been on worldwide tours to promote her music, with several albums to her name. When I had inquired to her managing office in Tokyo, they told me that she was scheduled to be in Kenya during the later weeks of August, which was perfect timing, so I put in a request for her to perform.

Anyango performed with a local band, and as the performance progressed, some of our guests from African contries, went from singing together to dancing, making it a memorable evening.

Recently, she was featured in a TV program in Japan.

After the reception, I spent some time unwinding with the people of the Cabinet Office over dinner, a small gesture of thanks for all the hard work that we had put into the Workshop. I also met some of the delegates from Japan.

It was a nice ending for an enriching and thought-filled time spent in Nairobi.

Participating in the TICAD6 in Nairobi – 2


As I wrote in my earlier post, the symposium of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, where I am the chair, was held at the Nairobi Hilton on the morning of 26th August.

The symposium  was attended by three of the past four recipients of this award from the years 2008 (1st) and 2013 (2nd). Indeed, we relied heavily on the help of Dr. Miriam Were, who was one of the first recipients of this award, to get the cooperation of WHO-AFRO in organising this workshop.

Also, given the nature of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and its emphasis on public health of Africa, I made a special request Dr Were to invite young people who work in this area.

One of the defining features of the Noguchi Africa Prize is the emphasis on both public health and epidemiology and  in medical research relevant  in the African continent,. Thus,  past laureates include people like Dr. Were from Kenya and Dr. Coutinho from Uganda. These two in particular are wonderful role-models for aspiring young African people, and are held in high esteem. Another recipient of the award, Dr. Peter Piot, was unable to attend for personal reasons that are elaborated in the link to my address.

The venue could seat around 100 people, and was packed to the maximum with some people even standing. The energy in the air was palpable. My address was followed by a speech by a representative of the Health Minister of Kenya, a congratulatory speech by Mr. Shiozaki, the Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, and then by  a representative of the WHO-AFRO Director.

We also showed a 6-minute video about the Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize that was in English but simultaneously translated into French, with Japanese subtitles. This was followed by a keynote presentation by Dr. Were, and then a special Karate performance by the young people of the UZIMA Foundation created and led by Dr Were.

After a brief break, we had two panel discussions moderated by Dr. Greenwood (a laureate of 2008) and Dr. Coutinho (a laureate of 2013, both who infused the discussions with their passion for their people’s health as their major  work, leading to a lively discussion.

The Workshop started at 8:30 in the morning, and began by one hour session with abut 20 young African hesalthcare leaders. At the end of engaging two panel debates, one each from the young health leaders wrapped up the talks by providing a concise overview. The abilities of these students shone through and wowed the audience.

The whole event was wrapped up by a speech by Ichiro Aizawa, Head of the Japan-Africa Parliamentary Representatives’ Association.

I was impressed by the evergreen enthusiasm and determination of the laureates that seemed to flow  freely for the benefit of everyone. Perhaps this passion is what is most important character which leads  to after many years,  world-changing work.

More will follow in part 3.

Participating in the TICAD6 in Nairobi – 1


The  Dementia meeting at Todai over, I headed home for a small break. The same night, (23rd August), I had to head to Haneda to catch my flight to Nairobi via Dubai.

This was going to be the first time that the TICAD (123), now in its 6th Conference, was going to be held in Africa. I was on my way to Nairobi to organize and attend 3 pre-events that would be held before the actual meetings on the 27th and 28th of August.

It was late at night but there was already a long line at the Emirates counter, and many are most likely they were going to attend TICAD. Indeed, it was the first time I ever saw such long lines for a flight to Dubai. I also met some colleagues who were headed to the same destination.

The people at the counter seemed a bit puzzled as well, and I heard whispered speculations about what the reason might be. Since it was not particularly a secret that we were going to attend TICAD, I struck up a conversation and explained the reason for the unusual crowd.

You never know what small conversations like this can lead to. It turned out somehow that I was upgraded to first class for the whole Haneda-Dubai-Nairobi flight! I was very lucky.

We reached Nairobi as scheduled, and I headed to the Hilton hotel.

The weather was great, with a summer resort climate similar to Karuizawa (Nairobi is at an elevation of around 1,800m above sea level), although it is important to be careful not to get lost in the multitude of people!

On the 25th, we went to see the preparations for the TICAD. and I participated in two meetings the following day (the 26th); one with the organising committee for the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize and the other with the GHIT fund personnel.

In the evening, I was invited to the home of Yoshiyuki Sato (in Japanese 1, 2, 3), a very successful business man who has been in Kenya for more than 40 years. I thought that there would be more invitees, but it turned out that I was the only one invited.

The two-storied house was built on an area of around 1000 square metres, and was surrounded by nearly 1.5 hectares of lush green land. I sampled some of his wife’s cooking, with almost all the food coming from the farm. The wine, the pottery, the flowers, everything. Except for the meat, which had been bought, but I was informed that they had a herd of around 500 cattle, which was destined for the market.

Living in such an expansive manner, whether it be in physical terms like the house, or in spirit,  must be liberating and a far cry from being cooped up in a crowded city. I think I understand this feeling.



Last year, I meant to share with you my trip to Vancouver in between my trips to Seattle on December 1st and Toronto on December 6th but it seemed to have slipped my mind.

My apologies for the delay to Consulate General Okada and many others who looked after me during my stay in Vancouver. Below is the report of my trip.

On the evening of November 11th, I arrived at Vancouver from Seattle. This was my third visit to Vancouver but the last time was already around ten years ago.

From here, I will be traveling to Toronto and Ottawa. This lecture series was planned over two years by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada which invited me as a speaker. The topic of my talk is Japan’s role in facing issues of global health.

On the next day, the weather was heavy rain and a stark contrast to that of Seattle.

I arrived at the campus of the prestigious University of British Columbia. I gave a lecture at the Irving Barber Learning Center for approximately 90 minutes. Consul General Okada kindly moderated my talk.

Consul General Okada is a great speaker and he was deeply involved in the planning of TICAD4 (1),  that was held in Yokohama in 2008 under Prime Minister Fukuda. At that time, I was the chairman of the first Noguchi Hideo Africa Prize and the award ceremony was held at TICAD4.

I met with Professor Shigenori Matsui who has been teaching here for the past ten years, as well as a medical doctor who was trained in Japan. She is currently studying here.

From the afternoon, I attended a dinner at the Consulate General. The Consulate General building is one of the oldest historical buildings in the area and is very beautiful. Consul General Okada did not have experience in Africa prior to organizing the 2008 TICAD but he asked to work at the Japanese Embassy in Kenya following TICAD. We discussed issues in Africa and were able to exchange many opinions.

Both of the two days during my stay were rainy, sadly, but they were very fruitful.

On November 13th, I left for Toronto.

Visits to the UK in October and November – 2


more photos→ (1)(2

After returning from London, I gave a speech at the international conference for the Red Cross in Fukushima, met with Peter Piot, and participated in many lectures. It was November before I knew it.

I participated in the World Dementia Council’s Legacy Event Japan for the entire program on both November 5th and 6th. On the 7th, the OECD-HGPI held an event that focused on the activities of private sector companies and NGOs.

I have written in my previous entry up to this point.

On November 10th, I flew to London again. This time it was for a board meeting for the GHIT fund. It was held at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, of which Peter Piot is the President. It is a prestigious university with a long tradition. Dr Piot is from Belgium, this reflects the strength of the UK, where people in the top positions are recruited regardless of nationality.

Similarly, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England is Canadian. This has received much attention around the world and is likely to increase global trust in the institution.

On the evening of my arrival, we had dinner at Bocca Di Lupo. The Vice President of the Royal Society, and a friend of mine, Anthony Cheetman also attended the dinner.

The next day, after finishing the board meeting, I attended a public event by GHIT Fund hosted by the Embassy of Japan as well as a reception at the Embassy in the afternoon.

I gave the closing remarks. It required much thought, as it had to convey to the audience and hosts the main message of the event as well as the remarks of the panelists and speakers. I decided to focus on two past winners of the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize, the only award given by the Japanese government: Brian Greenwood (1), the keynote speaker of the event and first person to receive the award, and Peter Piot, who was the chairperson of the panel at the event and the second person to receive the award. Both of their partners also made an appearance afterwards and I was happy to see Mrs. Greenwood again after six years.

After this evening event at the Embassy, GHIT board members were invited to dinner at the Ambassador’s residence. I am grateful to Ambassador and Mrs Hayashi as well as the people of the Embassy for the entire evening events

The Poppy Installation at the Tower of London was on at the time and it was a shame that I was unable to go see it.

Visits to the UK in October and November – 1


Over these past two months, I have had the opportunity to be involved with the UK on several occasions.

At the beginning of October, I served as a panelist at a conference held by Chatham House and the Japan Foundation.

Chatham House is a world-renowned British think tank. I have visited and worked with them many times.

Last year, Chatham House launched a five-year seminar series in cooperation with the Japan Foundation. This year was the second conference, entitled, “The Role of the Nation State in Addressing Global Challenges: Japan-UK Perspectives.” I was invited to be a speaker on the “Fukushima” panel held on the second day. The panel chair was Sir David Warren, who was the British Ambassador to Japan at the time of the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami in 2011. I was also asked to write an essay for the conference and will introduce it here on my blog when it has been published.

In mid-October, I was in London, my last trip there having been in April. It was for the third meeting of the World Dementia Council (WDC) . Similar to the first meeting, it was held in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I briefly touched upon documents provided by the Japanese government in preparation for the WDC Legacy Event Japan, which will be held in Japan in November. However, since I am not the representative of Japan, I focused on participating in the discussion as an independent board member.

Also in London, I had the chance to meet up with a few young people, whom I have worked with in the past.

After returning to Japan, I met with the Senior Partner of BLP, Mr Paisner, who has participated in the IBA Tokyo twice. He was well received at the GRIPS Forum, with a turnout of around 200 students and faculty members.

Before I knew it, it was the end of October and I welcomed Professor Peter Piot, the Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (this is only comprised of a graduate school) to give a lecture at the GHIT.

Thirty-eight years ago, he discovered Ebola in the Congo and was awarded the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize (it is the only award given by the Japanese government and I am the Chairperson of the prize committee). It was very busy, with over seventy organizations at the press conference, countless questions asked on Ebola and many other lectures to give.

In my spare time, I had the opportunity to meet with people from British companies in London and in Tokyo.

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.

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.

Some Recent Happenings


I have not posted recently though in fact I have been part of several interesting things ever my early breakfast at the British Embassy after an early morning flight from Bangkok on the 31st of May, I have not updated this column.

Anyway, I would like to report that the HGPI and the JCIE jointly hosted the fifth and final installation of the symposium on development in Africa (website in Japanese, Facebook page) in the run-up to the TICAD5. For dinner, I headed to Yokohama with the board of directors for GHIT (Global Health and Innovation Technology), with whom I would be having a meeting the next day. I spent the night at Yokohama.

The GHIT is a rare initiative, combining private and public interests with the Gates Foundation, and has a 5 year program. I get the feeling that it is going to be hard to stand at the helm of this organization.

The next morning started with the meeting of the board of directors, followed by a council meeting and then a press conference, and then I was in Tokyo. I had been invited to talk at the beginning of the ‘Global Agenda Seminar’(blog in Japanese) by Yoko Ishikura, and pretty soon, I had to head back to Yokohama in order to attend the award ceremony for the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize.

I welcomed the two recipients, Dr Peter Piot and Alex Cortinho and introduced them to the Emperor and the Empress. I was kept busy by the presentation ceremony and the reception dinner, and was able to go back home only late at night.

So this is what I was doing after returning from Bangkok on the 31st of May and the 1st of June. Considering the fact that it was only two days, I think I managed to accomplish a lot.

On the 2nd of June, I attended the farewell party held in memory of Mineo Nakajima (newspaper article in Japanese and English, Wikipedia page in Japanese), the late founder of the now famous Akita International University. In the short span of 10 years, AIU has earned praise for its mission of educating world-class university students. He was a wonderful scholar, a true educator; we will truly, truly miss him. I join my hands in prayer for this teacher who left us so suddenly.