Abroad in November -3: To Abu Dhabi


The Etihad flight took off from Narita at night, taking me to Abu Dhabi. I was going to attend the Global Agenda Council (GAC) that was being hosted by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

It is already around my 6th year attending this council. Just like last time, I was staying at the magnificent Yas Viceroy Hotel. The council was to meet in a conference room adjacent to the venue of the recently held F1 races.

Until late in the evening, I was kept busy with my work, as I visited Khalifa Univesrity of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) where I am currently a trustee. I mainly met with various people in relation to this post. As my work was starting to wind up, news came in that the plane due to leave Narita and fly in early the next morning with many of the delegates from Japan on it had suffered from mechanical failure and had been cancelled. I took the opportunity to have a relaxed meal with my local friends.

One of the co-chairs of the hosting side of this GAC was Nasser Al Sowaidi, the chairman of the Department of Economic Development who I had met earlier in March, and I exchanged some greetings with him.

On the second day, I was the chair for the Japan Council and I used the opportunity to hold talks with the China and Korea Councils, as well as the Council for ASEAN. On the third day, I was a panelist in a discussion where the panelists first discussed the topic in question, before the floor was divided up into groups and talked about the pros and cons, after which we had the Q&A sessions. It was a very enjoyable program.

The group which was delayed because of the cancelled flight reached a day later. Although they weren’t able to participate in the full program, they must have been tired. But they seemed fine as well.

Details about this delayed group can be found on Yoko Ishikura’s blog posts (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). As one may surmise from her entries, she is super-busy, yet she manages to find the energy and time to make entries in her blog. I am really awed by her passion.

At night, I met up with Ikuo Okamoto (Wikipedia page in Japanese) after a long time, and along with Jun Murai and Inakage of Keio University, we went to the Emirate Palace for dinner.

My stay in Abu Dhabi didn’t end there. The day after the GAC, I went to KUSTAR with Mr. Satoshi Sato, who had worked with me on the NAIIC. We gave a seminar on focused on the work on the NAIIC and the current affairs surrounding nuclear energy to an audience keen to know more, for UAE is currently building nuclear power plants. Many people in nuclear power-related organizations of UAE were in attendance, and the seminar was a lively one.

I would like to note that the Abu Dhabi government is pinning high hopes on KUSTAR. This I gathered from the plans I was told about after my talk. After dinner, I headed to the airport, from where I finally started on my way home. A long trip that started in New York finally coming to an end!

Abroad in November -2: From NYC on to KL


Flew in to Narita from New York City (NYC). Sent off all the winter clothing that I had used in NY to my home before changing onto a Singapore Airlines flight, A380. This was the first time that I would be in a Suite; unlike the Emirates’s first class, there was no shower in Suite but the private cabin was wonderful.

Reached Changi Airport at half past three in the morning, then a transit to a flight around six in the morning bound for Kuala Lumpur. I had a meeting at ten.

The meeting was being held to iron out the details of the cooperation agreement that had been outlined in San Francisco, and it took a last-gasp effort to get the agreement signed.  Although I am thankful to all those involved, there is still room for improvement.  It is important to learn to move a project forward and implement it. The experience gained through such undertakings will always turn out to be useful.

Flew back to Narita on the last flight of the day. I returned home long enough to change the contents of my suitcase before heading back to Narita in the evening to catch an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi in order to attend the Global Agenda Council hosted by the World Economic Forum.

A crazy schedule? Perhaps.

To Paris


On the afternoon of the 17th, I took the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord, where I arrived before 4pm. It was humid and hot.

I went immediately to the hotel, changed and went off to the conference arena of the American Chamber of Commerce in France. I attended the speech of Chairman of the Board and CE of GE, Jeff Immelt. The topic of the talk was globalization and big corporations like GE and it reflected ten years of experience of working in this high responsibility position. I offered my greetings and then headed to the Musee d’Orsay. There, I was able to see the Hays Collection on exhibition.

I was invited to Paris to the International Business Think Tank (1), hosted by the Institut de L’Entreprise, beginning with the dinner on the evening of the 17th. There was a speech by the French Minister for the Economy and Finance Pierre Moscoviv, and the penal discussion by former Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman. They had many differences in opinion but their discussion was very thought provoking and deep in content.

Mr. Krugman had a piece in the International Herald Tribune a few days ago and also a good op-ed in the New York Times, mentioning Abenomics as the G8 Summit is being held in Northern Ireland. I have tweeted on this discussion and also posted some photos (twitters of first twitters of June 18th @kiyoshikurokawa).

Mr. Monti is impressive as he has served as the EU Commissioner and was the Prime Minister of Italy at the time of the financial crisis, leading a cabinet without a single politician. I thought Mr. Monti made a good point when he said, “It is a problem that even at meetings of the EU, the discussions between the heads of state are not based on the viewpoints of politicians, but rather like technocrats, focusing on minor details.”

The meeting on the next day, was held at the Musee de Arts Primitifs Branly, with approximately two to four hundred people in attendance. The format was with keynote speeches and panel discussions. In the morning session, the keynote speech was former Prime Minister of Finland at the time of the end of the Cold War, Esko Aho (1), followed by the Chairman and CEO of Inditex, famous for the clothing brand Zara, Pablo Isla, then myself and Daniel Tammet in the afternoon key note speeches. I enjoyed the conference. You can also follow the organizer’s twitter account.

I also had dinner with high some high officials of an Asian country, who are in Paris to attend the annual Paris Air Show.

The next morning, I left for Washington D.C. from Charles de Gaulle.

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.

Wiston House, West Sussex


I left St. Gallen in the afternoon, and arrived at Heathrow. A 90 minute-ride past verdant fields towards the south took me to West Sussex.

I was on my way to attend the UK-Japan 21st Century Group, a conference started by Prime Minister Nakasone and Thatcher of two nations, already into its 30th year. I was to participate a day late. The chairpersons were Honorable Lord Howard and Honorable Yasuhisa Shiozaki, both members of their respective parliaments.

The venue for the conference was the quintessentially English Wiston House. I was relieved to be on time for the dinner on the first night.

The second day, the 4th of May, started off with a talk on "4. Climate Change and Energy Policy" by me and Robin Grimes, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK. The talk was followed by a lively discussion, with opinions from the floor. It was very enjoyable.

The other themes discussed this day were "5. Geopolitical and Security Challenges in East Asia and the Middle East," "6. The UK and Japan: Future Prospects for Trade and Investment," "7. Corporate Governance and 21st Century Capitalism and finally, Common Concerns." The variety and depth of the discussions carried out was truly stimulating and satisfying.

For the evening dinner, we moved to Amberley Castle. Whether it be Wiston House or Amberley Castle, old buildings are in a class of their own. The huge stones used and the absence of any strong earthquakes ensures that these buildings last a millennium.

The themes for the 3rd day were "8. International Development and Cooperation," "9. The UK and Japan, Progress in Developing UK-Japan Bilateral Cooperation and Prospects for the Future," and these were finished by noon.

Incidentally, the themes for the first day were "1. Latest Developments in Japan: The Political Situation and Economic Prospects," "2. Latest Developments in the UK: The Political Situation and Economic Prospects," "3. Retrenchment or Stagnation: Lessons from Japan’s ‘Lost Decades’."

A recurring theme for the past couple of years, be it at Davos or at St. Gallen, is the political situation and economic stagnation in the developed nations. This trend shows just how much the world is changing these days.

The attending English politicians were very intellectual, and did not abhor controversy which arose as a result of their wide-ranging perspectives and reasoning. This spoke volumes about their venerable tradition, and left me feeling that I have a lot to learn from them.

Both England and Japan are island nations, off the coast of large continents and with scarcely any raw materials. They also have their respective strengths and weaknesses, which I feel are very complementary. I feel that this partnership would be a very good one in the global context. Do you agree?

In the evening, I was at Heathrow, on my way home. I had spent two days at both St. Gallen and at West Sussex.


From Abu Dhabi – 2


On the second day of the trip to Abu Dhabi, we visited the Department of Economic Development. We were received by Chairman Alsowaidi, who warmly welcomed the cooperation of business, government and academia. In particular, he was glad about my coincidental encounter with the Sakura Club at the Al Ain campus of United Arab Emirates University on the previous day. This meeting was possible thanks to the initiative taken by the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology of University of Tokyo, and the discussion proceeded to the topic of cooperation in research and development. Such meetings are fundamentally important for relations between countries.

The Abu Dhabi side gave a presentation called “Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.” For the Japanese side, Professor Kudo of Showa Medical University (gastroenterological) gave a presentation showing a video of theremoval of a polyp from a large intestine using an endoscope. There were also presentations by various companies and an introduction of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology of University of Tokyo.

I had another appointment and had to excuse myself for an hour, but our visit was reported in the local newspaper. I am sorry to say that I found the article had mentioned my title incorrectly.

As you may know, nuclear power plants are currently being constructed in Abu Dhabi and there are efforts to deepen relations with Japan and to learn from the recent accident.

Our meeting ended smoothly and we headed towards our next stop, Zayed University. This also has an astounding campus as well as state of the art facilities. Here too, there is a Japanese “fan club” sort of organization.

In the evening, out of the courtesy of Ambassador Kamo, I had dinner at the Ambassador’s official residence, the last time I was there was three years ago.

The next day was the final day of our trip. I met with the Dr. Laursen, the President of Khalifa University, where I am a member of the board. Afterwards, I joined everyone for a relaxed lunch and we started preparing for our return trip. In the evening, I was interviewed by a journalist who is working in Abu Dhabi under a two year contract. This interview piece is also available.

She graduated from Harvard College and invited me to a Harvard dinner gathering at the Park Hyatt Hotel. It is quite a pleasant hotel. There are many people here on business. Afterwards, I checked out of my hotel at 11 p.m. and headed toward the airport.

I will now travel to Los Angeles via London, a trip of twenty four hours in total. 


From Abu Dhabi – 1


I visited Abu Dhabi after some time. This time I came with the purpose of developing greater university and Japan related networks in Abu Dhabi.

The twenty people or so whom I came with included Mr. Toyoda, the former senior officer of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Professor Nakano, the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology of University of Tokyo, and others who have a deep relations with Abu Dhabi. My connection to Abu Dhabi and this delegation formed because I am a member of Board of Trustees of Khalifa University and also because I was a member of the President’s Council at the University of Tokyo, as well the Director of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo and I had wanted to further mutual relationships between universities. Although it has only been forty years, Japan and the United Arab Emirates have had deep relations, not just limited to the spheres of education and research. The United Arab Emirates is one of the main exporters and Japan is one of the main importers of oil. Last month, Minister Motegi visited the area and many agreements were made, with the involvement of the Research Center for the Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo.

We arrived late at night and the following day we visited the campus of United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, which is the national university of UAE. Many Western universities and companies have opened research offices there and it is possible to see the vibrant teaching and research that is going on. They are especially passionate regarding the undergraduate education. It is disappointing that Japan is not participating in such activities. I learned that there is a club called the Sakura Club for students who want to know more about Japan and become friends with Japanese.

In the afternoon, we visited the main campus of UAE in Al Ain. It was ninety minutes by car. The weather was sunny and the temperature was a comfortable 25 to 27℃. We were shown the excellent campus. I have visited the medical school there three or four years ago. The medical school has ties with John Hopkins University. Here too, the undergraduate education is the core of the university.

We were scheduled to depart at five but as we entered the majestic building of the main campus, we came across a sign that announced “Sakura Club event” from five to six. As we quickly changed our plans and entered the auditorium, we saw that there were some Japanese female university students wearing kimonos and a woman who was performing a classical Japanese dance. This happened to be Mako Hattori and her team. We know each other and so we were very surprised to meet here by chance. Considering that around twenty Japanese men suddenly and unexpectedly came into the auditorium, they must have been quite surprised. This unexpected meeting made us very delighted and we all greatly enjoyed Ms. Mako’s explanation of the kimono and dance.

Also present were Ambassador Kamo and his wife, who took the post last November.

I met a student from Waseda University who is studying here for one year. She must have been surprised to say the least. She said her university life has been very fulfilling.

In the auditorium, the female students sat to the left of the stage and the male students sat to the right. This is the local custom.

We left after about half an hour, but it must remain in the minds of the students as a good memory.

Such unexpected meetings can occur in the most unlikely places.


OECD Conference in Paris


I flew to Paris on February 11. I was invited to serve on the the Knowledge Based Capital panel held on the 13th and 14th. I was invited to speak o the opening panel of Day 1. I decided to use this opportunity to see some people in Paris, thus I left Tokyo one day early.

I checked into the hotel around 5 pm of the same day (Feb 11th) and had dinner at the residence of Ambassador Yoshikawa, Representative of Japan to the OECD. It is the same place I visited at the time of former Ambassador Hattori.

In the morning of the 12th, I went to the OECD with two people who as volunteers,work for Table for Two, then onto lunch with Chairman Laurent Stricker of WANO and meeting with Commissioner Philippe Jamet of the Nuclear Safety Authority, who I had met in Tokyo in December.

In the evening, I had an American Hospital in Paris (AHP) related dinner with ten people of the French financial and business world and some from Japanese companies. We enjoyed French cuisine at Dominique Bouchet. We discussed many topics, beginning with the National Diet of Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). We ended up hardly talking about AHP, but since they are all diverse and multitalented people, we had a wonderful conversation.

The next day was the OECD meeting. I served as a panelist on the first panel with Minister Willets of the United Kingdom, Minister Ljung of Sweden, and Mr. Landefeld of the United States. The panel was moderated by Mr. Wyckoff of the OECD. I stood up and gave a presentation for ten minutes. The audience was mainly composed of government officials and policy makers, so I stated that the change the world is currently going through must be the biggest change since the industrial revolution. I handed out two slides, one originally by Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab and another by Chairman Komiyama of the Mitsubishi Research Institute.

I was able to meet with many people from Japan who are working in the OECD. Yuko Harayama, who previously worked here for two years as a senior executive, attended the conference. She was on her way back from the UK and I met with her for the first time in a while.

I left the conference for a bit and visited the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN). Over lunch, I discussed many matters with Jaques Repussard and other top officials. This was one of the places members of NAIIC visited in March of last year. Frank discussions are helpful for understanding each other.

Afterwards, I returned to the OECD for the last two panels, reception and dinner. Here too, I had the opportunity to speak with many people.

Many people gave me very positive feedback on my talk. I believe it was good that I provided a wider framework for everyone to think broadly at the start of the panel conference.

I leave for Boston tomorrow morning.


Seminar Series in Preparation for the Conference on African Development, Article on Japanese ODA


In June of this year, the Japanese government will hold the TICAD5 (Tokyo International Conference on Africa 5) (in Japanese). At the TICAD4 five years ago, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) was able to develop many ties (1, 2).

These past ten years, I have had many opportunities to be involved with Africa. Many pages will come up if you search “Africa” on this website.

As one of the activities in preparation for the TICAD5, the Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI), in partnership with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) (1) will hold a series of five seminars on Africa. The theme is how Japan should work with Africa, which has many problems but is developing.

The first seminar (in Japanese) was a discussion moderated by the new Chairman of JCIE Mr. Ken Shibusawa, with myself, as the representative of HGPI, and Shigemi Sato, who connects Japan and Africa through businessmen.

Many young people came and we had a pleasant and meaningful time.

It is important that this kind of series will make more people think about the perspective of “Africa and Japan in a global world,” and also raise awareness of what Japan can offer to the world.

Since 1960 onwards, Japan has given much development assistance to many developing countries in Asia. Dr. Murakami of HGPI recently wrote a review of the Japanese ODA policy in the Harvard Asia Quarterly. Such research is important when considering the future of Japan’s international policy.

Following these past twenty years of the global era, it is important to think broadly with everyone about what kind of policies we should implement. There should be more opportunities for diverse business in the future.

In the twenty-first century, the world is changing in an unpredictable way, moving into a precarious era. We must learn from the past, watch the world carefully, as well as have a sense of how Japan is viewed from the world.


Davos -2



Copyright by World Economic Forum.
swiss-image.ch/Photo Remy Steinegger.

Many business and government leaders from all over the world come to gather at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. There is a great advantage with so many people here at one time in this small village, as there are plenty of opportunities to make behind the scenes arrangements in politics and business. The interviews (1, in Japanese) by Ms. Iida of NHK were also possible because she was in Davos. Those whose work is conducted behind the cameras, like Ms. Iida, are also very busy. Aside from the usual work, many extra preparations are necessary before coming to and after arriving in Davos, such as setting up appointments, reserving places and times, and chasing and getting hold of people.

Even for business conferences, there is a rule that only one top person from each company can attend (even secretaries are not allowed), so there is a whole other set of meetings held outside of the conferences at hotels.

On the 25th (Friday), there was a breakfast meeting of around twenty people from Japan and China. As no politicians attended the meeting, we enjoyed a frank discussion. Afterwards, the Global Agenda Council was held in which the three chairs of Japan, China and South Korea (China was the representative) held a one hour private discussion.

In the afternoon, there was the usual conference between the leaders of the world’s chemical companies which I have been invited to. It allows people to listen in and study. The regulars from Japan were Mitsubishi Chemical, Sumitomo Chemical, and Teijin but many elements are involved and the topics are now broadening from chemistry to include biotech-sciences.

On the 26th, Saturday, there was a panel titled “The Japan Growth Context” (1), which was moderated by former British Ambassador to Japan Sir David Wright and was comprised of the following panelists: Minister Motegi of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (I heard that Minister Motegi was moving about the conference arena by himself afterwards), President Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceutical, Chairman Kobayashi of Mitsubishi Chemical, Mr. Heizo Takenaka, and myself. As NHK news reports, there are high expectations for the Abe Cabinet, but the question is what to do about economic growth. Around one hundred people were in the audience, of which about eighty percent were Japanese, and several good questions were raised. I spoke mainly of the significance of the Fukushima nuclear accident, the delay in the women empowerment in the Japanese society (WEForum’s 2012 report shows that Japan is ranked 102 out of 134 countries on the Gender Empowerment), and the insular mind-set of many Japanese people’s, though these are topics I always discuss.

Afterwards, I went to a private conference on US foreign policy, and later rode the cable car up the Weissfluhjoch in Parsenn, to enjoy the beautiful weather. Everyone was skiing. I rested there a little while and then returned back down to the conferences.

At night, I attended a soiree. We took a mountain tram to reach the luxury hotel, Schatzalp, where it was held. The hotel is the sanatorium in Thomas Mann’s book Magic Mountain.

Professor Takeuchi of Harvard Business School and his wife were with me; Professor M. Useem of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, who chaired my earlier panel (see my posting ‘Davos -1’) introduced me to many people and I had a very enjoyable evening.

The next day, I woke up early and took a bus to Zurich. The flight from Zurich delayed two hours before departure. I arrived in Narita at three in the afternoon the next day.