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.

From Abu Dhabi


It has been a while since I have updated my blog.

On February 20th, I took an Etihad flight from Narita for Abu Dhabi.

Over these past three years, there has been a continuous, mutual exchange between universities in Abu Dhabi and Tokyo University and other Japanese universities and, Japan’s Institute of Energy Economics and several Japanese companies.

This time, we made visits to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research and the Petroleum Institute.

Under the UAE-Japan Strategic R&D and Higher Education Partnership, Masdar also has links with the University of Tokyo and student exchanges, presentations and research unit observation trips. When I arrived at Masdar, there was a group of students who contacted me. They were a group of around twenty graduate students from the University of Tokyo. They had come to observe the research at Masdar, which is a good thing. I suggested that they come to see a presentation at the lecture hall if they had time. They did not come in the end but it made me glad that there were such students visiting.

Ambassador Fujiki also made an appearance during our visit and gave his greetings. The Ambassador is from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and as a background in biochemistry. I have high hopes for the mutual exchanges.

At KUSTAR, I had a meeting with President of Khalifa University, Dr. Tod A. Laursen. Last year, we had a half-day seminar at KUSTAR. However, with the recent fall in oil prices, the budget has become very tight. I wonder how many years this will continue.

At the Petroleum Institute, there was much interest in the development of solar cars with Tokai University. This team took second place at a race last year and made the news. Both the drivers and the preparations for the race are centered on the students here so they were especially happy here. The explanation by the leader was also very powerful.

This Institute of Energy Economics was ranked as number one in the world by the think tank ranking in the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (p. 83) . It is very encouraging. There are talks of joint development.

The Health and Global Policy Institute (HGPI) , of which I serve as the Chairman, was also ranked in 6th place in the category of “global health” (p. 92). In the category of “top domestic health policy think tanks” it was ranked in 15th place (p. 90).

It was just a two-day trip but this sort of academia-government-industry team visit was very welcomed. Although Japan’s business interests with Abu Dhabi are mostly limited to oil, their interests went beyond, instead focusing on human resources training and education and business related to sectors other than the oil industry.

The World and Society of Scientists, Conferences in Kyoto and Kobe


On October 4th to 6th, I attended the STS Forum (Science and Technology in Society Forum) in Kyoto, an annual conference of people involved in science and technology related policy-making.

On the evening of October 2nd, it was announced that Dr. Omura was selected for the Nobel Prize.

On the second day, I sat on the panel on education and capacity building in developing countries. The moderator was an old friend, Dr. Zakri (1) the Science Adviser of the Prime Minister of Malaysia. As always, I spoke about the importance of interaction between young people across national borders. There was widespread agreement on this issue and many of the speakers referred to my points. My paper calling for multi-layered international exchanges, “Multilayered Brain Circulation” was also distributed.

On the 6th, I traveled from Kyoto to Kobe to take part in the “Global Forum: Innovation for Ageing Populations” held at the WHO Center located in Kobe. An article by the host, Alex Ross, was published in the Japan Times. I was the moderator of the “High-level Policymaker Panel” held on the second day. The panelists were from Japan, the U.S., Europe, China and American think tanks and they each briefly gave their views, followed by questions from the audience. It was difficult to keep to the time limit of 60 minutes but somehow I was able to facilitate the conversation.

The recent reports by the WHO, U.S., Europe and WEF were also distributed.

I was glad to see a speaker from IDEO, whose engagement seems to be a sign of the times. The panel where Gretchen Addi was a speaker was mostly a chat between panelists who met for the first time but I look forward to following “The Powerful Now”, as well as the “White House Conference on Aging”.

Cambridge Pembroke Players Tour


Pembroke College is the third oldest college at the University of Cambridge, which was established over 800 years ago. On the first Sunday of autumn, I attended a play by the Cambridge Pembroke Players, a student theatrical society, which visited my old high school, Seikei-Gakuin.

Seikei-Gakuin holds an annual “Shakespeare Week” at this time of year and students from Pembroke College have visited the school as part of the international student cultural exchange since 2007.

This year, they performed “The Comedy of Errors” (1). The auditorium was packed with a nearly full audience.

The students said they practice three times a week. Their Japan tour will last for three weeks and their next stop is Meiji University.

It is great to see such students’ activities and I encourage Japanese universities to embark on similar projects.

Discussions with Junior High and High School Students of Seikei-Gakuen


→Here is the web site of Seikei-Gakuen (in Japanese)

On July 22nd, the Nikkei Shimbun ran an article focusing on the topic of how to encourage junior high and high school students to develop the strength to live in the world, featuring a discussion between Principal Atobe of Seikei-Gakuen and myself, moderated by Director Ikegami. It was posted on this website on the news page on August 6th with the article linked here.

In the discussion, we also talked about Choate Rosemary Hall. Mr. Takashi Murata, who has been a supporter of such initiatives, spoke with me in a seminar on studying abroad, held for junior high and high school students and their families.

Mr. Murata is an alumnus of Choate Rosemary Hall and went on to study and graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, where I also spent time as a researcher. He was also concerned with the small number of Japanese students studying at Choate Rosemary Hall. With our discussion moderated by Principal Atobe, we exchanged our views on why students should study abroad.

Although there are several study abroad programs offered at Seikei-Gakuen, we wish to further expand them.

After the seminar, we had a reception for about an hour to speak with the students and their families and had a pleasant time. We have high hopes regarding their choices and futures.

On the previous day, I had also participated in the reception for the U.S. College Fair at the American Embassy.

Meeting at Sendai with Young Entrepreneurs Active in Tohoku Reconstruction Efforts


On the afternoon of March 14th, I headed to Sendai. I gave the closing presentation in the event, “The Role of Entrepreneurs in Disaster Recovery.” This was the public forum for the International Disaster Prevention Conference, hosted by Sendai City.

The keynote speech was by Professor Michi Fukushima of Tohoku University, followed by excellent presentations by five young people filled with entrepreneurial spirit (1).

These young people who chose to work in northeastern Japan after the Great East Japan Earthquake have diverse backgrounds, including those who lost their families during the earthquake, those who found their homes gone and were in shock, and those who left their jobs in other parts of Japan or abroad to go to destroyed towns and some return to their hometowns to become involved in reconstruction efforts.

This includes Mr. Masatsura Takahashi of Iwakitakahashi, Mr. Mitsuhiro Sato of Shimatsuji-kojiten, Ms. Ruriko Mitarai of Kesennuma Knitting, Ms. Megumi Hikichi of Walatis, Mr. Hiroki Iwasa of General Reconstruction Association (GRA) and others.

They are all truly incredible, amazing young individuals. They all have made use of the unique tradition, culture, and environment as well gotten people involved in the creation of a new social value (this is my definition of innovation), overcoming obstacles with their hopes and devotion. People who supported this process started to appear and join, forming a new organization and creating a raison d’être that they had in common.

It is the third time this year that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with Ms. Mitarai, who has a global perspective and is able to widen the framework of the work that she is doing.

Finally, I gave my talk, focusing on projects which are helping to foster young people who are active in such reconstruction efforts in the Tohoku area. I spoke about the activities by IMPACT Japan, Qatar and the Intilaq project, “Tohoku Innovators Hub.”

I had a wonderful time sharing such experiences with impressive young people.

I also got to see five MBA students from the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business who I had just met two days ago.

The Japanese-American Delegation’s visit to Japan and Students of the Dartmouth Tuck School


On March 12th, I attended a lunch organized by the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership on “Japanese American Leaders and Japan-US Relations.” The organizer was Irene Hirano Inouye, the wife of the late Senator Daniel Inouye. This time, as the main event held in Hiroshima was on the topic of “Ageing Society and Dementia” (in Japanese), I was able to meet with Professor Morimoto among others and had a very productive and pleasant time.

I spoke on the topics of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) (1), and my recent activities as a council member of the G8 World Dementia Council (1), established by the initiative of the UK government.

It was a beautiful day at the Meiji Kinenkan and I enjoyed meeting with many incredible people. I will update you when the details of the rest of the “Japanese American leaders” visit are uploaded on the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership website.

In the afternoon, I led a seminar at GRIPS with students from the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth College. The title of my talk was my usual “Uncertain Times.” I started my talk by speaking about Kanichi Asakawa. He is an important historical figure as he is the first Japanese graduate of Dartmouth College and the first Japanese professor at Yale University (as well as the first Japanese professor at any university abroad in a developed country at the time). I wrote about him in my Chairman’s message at the start of the NAIIC report. I also mentioned that Jim Kim, the current President of the World Bank, was selected for the post when he was serving as the President of Dartmouth College.

The professor who led the students told me that it had been an excellent two hours and asked if I would visit Dartmouth, to which I answered, of course.

It was a truly enjoyable day.

Abroad in the New Year


Happy New Year.

I hope you had a wonderful new year celebration. It seemed very cold around Japan but we were lucky to have sunny weather in Tokyo.

It has been a while since I have written. I have been quite busy with many things.

I did not do anything particularly special but on the morning of the 6th, similar to last year, I gave a lecture to around forty graduate students, brought by Professor Takeuchi from Harvard Business School. This year turned out to be a very fun seminar too.

After the lecture, I returned home once and then headed to Haneda Airport and flew to Toronto. I arrived in Toronto in the afternoon and then went to dinner. It was cold outside and the wind was very strong. With the wind-chill factor, it was about -20°C.

The following day, I met with the Canadian nuclear power and electricity leaders as well as Professor Shinya Nagasaki who moved to McMaster University from the University of Tokyo. Afterwards, we had a round table discussion from noon with around twenty people in total. I found this style of discussion to be very productive.

Everyone was very frank and we had an open discussion on energy policies, the role and processes of nuclear power, the importance of trust and transparency, the reprocessing of spent fuel. The participants were not held back by the lines of politics, industry and bureaucracy and their input reflected constructive and well-thought out views. Canada’s nuclear power plants are concentrated in Ontario, where Toronto is. Although political differences exist between the provincial and national levels, I felt that I was able to observe the good aspects of Canada.

Later in the afternoon, I visited Havergal College, a prestigious girls’ school in the middle of Toronto. It was established 120 years ago by Francis Ridley Havergal, in order to provide high level education to bright, young women.

The following day, I attended the advisory meeting of the Gairdner Foundation. The meeting went on for approximately six hours and many members had sharply contrasting opinions, with some being quite outspoken. But the meeting bore fruit as the discussion went on.

The merits of these meetings are that they are very constructive. Furthermore, the differences in opinions and interpretations provide an insight into other areas to study and it was a very good learning experience. Though, the role of the Chair seems very tough…

In the evening I had dinner at the residence of the consulate general of Japan, Mr. Nakayama, whom I would like to thank.

I flew back to Tokyo the next day. During the trip, I was fortunate enough to meet many people.

The first few days of this year ended up being similar to last year.

Create a “Portfolio of Friends”- Reduce Risks in Life through Diversified Investments


I have always followed the work and activities of Ms. Yoko Ishikura.

As those of you who have visited my blog may know, Ms. Ishikura and I co-wrote the book, How to Build a World Class Career (in Japanese).

I have worked with Ms. Ishikura at the World Economic Forum as well as the “Global Agenda Seminar”, which she directs. I have had the chance to participate in it a few times (1, 2) and have learned much every time.

Many of you who have visited my blog may have seen Ms. Ishikura’s activities and messages on her blog and twitter <@yokoishikura>.

Recently, Ms. Ishikura has written a column titled, Create a “Portfolio of Friends”- Reduce Risks in Life through Diversified Investments (in Japanese).

In her column, she mentioned me as one of the friends in her portfolio. I was a bit embarrassed as the other people she introduced are all super-incredible individuals but I write about it here in hopes of drawing more people’s attention to her message and philosophy.

I believe Ms. Ishikura’s message will be helpful in establishing a framework for thinking in this uncertain and ever changing world.

Two visits to JFK in September


I have not posted very often in September and October. It is not that there was nothing to report, but I had many engagements that took up my time, such as lectures and conferences both in Japan and abroad.

On September 15th, I flew to JFK. From there, I headed to Philadelphia where I had a dinner. The next day I sat on a panel at a conference. After staying one more night, I left early in the morning to catch a flight back from JFK.

In the two days after this trip, I attended a couple of very important conferences in Tokyo and was able to finish them successfully. After spending the weekend at home, I headed to JFK once more on Monday, the 22nd.

This time, I went to NYC. I attended an educational session for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and a conference by the New York Academy of Sciences. This was held last year in San Francisco where I attended the conference as part of the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s advisory group. As this session was held during the United Nations General Assembly, the security in Manhattan was very tight and it was hard to get around.

On the evening of the 22nd, SONY CSL held its special annual event at MoMA for the first time. As I had some time, I attended the dinner. This big jump to MoMA must have required lots of practice from the participants. It is a wonderful idea.

The next evening, on the 23rd, I had dinner with Japanese doctors (1) who are conducting clinical residency training, which has become almost customary for my visits to NYC. There were also two medical students from Jichi Medical University who were there for two weeks of clinical clerkship. I enjoyed the dinner very much.

It is nice to be in New York in the autumn.