From Paris to Kyoto ? Attending the STS Forum


After enjoying Paris for two days in the beautiful autumn weather, I returned to Japan at Kansai airport in the morning of Monday, October 2nd, to head for Kyoto where STS Forum (Ref.1) will be held for three days.    I have been participating this Forum since the 1st meeting, and therefore have enjoyed the expansion of networks with wonderful people of the world.  I am now acquainted with a number of extraordinary people.

This year’s Forum had special sessions in the beginning dealing with energy policies, nuclear power and such because of the Fukushima disaster.  I was seated next to Mr. Amano, Director General of the IAEA, at dinner, so had the privilege of talking with him in person on many topics.

Many sessions were held simultaneously, so I chose to participate mainly in sessions on education.  I also participated as one of the panelists in the session on the change in human behavior (in energy consumption, obesity, etc.) chaired by Philip Campbell, Editor-in-chief of “Nature".

On 4th, I returned to Tokyo to have dinner with several political leaders.  In the next morning, I had a breakfast meeting with people related to the American Hospital in Paris, and hosted in the entire afternoon a panel organized by JETRO.  Here, the panelists consisted of six people who participated in the STS Forum; Ellis Rubinstein (YNAS、President)、Mohammad Hassan (TWAS,Treasurer), Risalia Arteaga (former President of Equador, female)、Dr Annette Lraegelou (Leibniz Institute of New Materials, female), Ananda Chakrabarty (Univ Illinois), and Sanwen Huang (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences).  Joined to the conference include quite a number of people from METI, NEDO, and JETRO.  We all participated in a good exciting discussion.

I always enjoy discussions with friends from all parts of the world.  I learn a lot from them, too.


Steve Jobs Passed Away, Sadness Spreads, My Message to Young Generation


People all over the world love Apple.  Today, Steve Jobs – the very person who created Apple, put it back on its feet, and made the company the most valuable enterprise in the United States within a matter of several years – died.

“Death” is inevitable to everyone, as Jobs has stated in his historical speech at Stanford University.  However, his death was mourned by the whole world (Ref.1,2,3), and this is extraordinary.
Steve Jobs(50)

Dear youths, the whole world is open to your future.  You do not have to worry about the common sense/standard of the Japanese society.  It is good to be different from others.

I assure each one of you young people that there are something worthy to devote yourself to.  It is in your inner self, although you may not have discovered it, or have not noticed it yet.  Or maybe you can not find it if you keep on living the daily life only in Japan, because, in the horizon of this globalizing world, there exist so many different societies.

Youth does not last forever nor is it repeatable.  I urge you to go out to the world.  For what?  For study or anything your instinct may tell you!  Just get out of your place, go out to different parts of the world for a couple of weeks, couple of months, several months, or even several years.  Breathe in the different air, live, and know many people in the world.  Then, you have a good chance of finding your path.  Someday in the future, you will see those “Many Dots” of direct experiences connect.  This, I can assure you.

Listen every now and then to that historically famous 14 minutes speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford University.  I do, too, occasionally.  It is truly a good speech.  Very moving. But now, we listen to it with tears.

Steve Jobs was a wonderful, extraordinary person.  He totally changed our life and the life of our children in a matter of less than a decade.

See how even a child of only two or three years old touch television, trying to move the images on the screen!


Board Meeting of Impact Japan


Six months passed since we established Impact Japan.  During these months, we all worked together to support various voluntary activities by people categorized as the “out of the box” type, especially the young people, launched a collaborative project with Project Hope for the Tohoku Earthquake, organized an educational program with Harvard College Initiative Japan, and such.

These activities stemmed out rather naturally from the activities with my friends and colleagues, around the time we launched TEDxTokyo.

Please “Google” Impact Japan.   Also, you can find many postings in this (my) site if you search by the keyword “Impact Japan”.

By reading these sites, you will see what we are up to or what sort of activities we are trying to focus on.

Six months have passed since Impact Japan has become an officially registered organization.  We had the first official board meeting recently.  Our Honorary Chairman, H.E. John V. Roos, the Ambassador of the United States to Japan,  honored us with his presence for about an hour and encouraged us with many ideas.

I hope that Impact Japan will overcome many challenges and continue its activities to support the youth, encourage the “out of box” type people, help coordinate all sorts of actions so that in the end they become a strong power to CHANGE Japan.

I thank from the bottom of my heart to all of you who help, support, and work for Impact Japan.  Please, by all means, continue to support us.



“How to Build a Global Career (世界級キャリアの作り方)”, 10th prints is coming soon


I believe that many of you who visit this site already know about, or have read my book with Professor Yoko Ishikura “Global Career – How to Build a Global Career (世界級キャリアの作り方)” (published in Japanese and Korean).

The book continues to sell well, and the publisher told us to print its 10th prints (each about 2,000 copies) with a note “the book sale exceeded a bench-mark of well selling book of '20,000 copies’”.

I am very pleased to hear this news.  It is a proof of how the book is attracting a strong attention from the public, particularly youth.

Today, we are living in a “global world” with many uncertainties.  I ask you to tell your friends and young people around you about this book.
I am pretty confident that this book has something to offer to every reader.


Magnificent Youths – 2


The title of this column is the same as the previous one and reflects my feelings after spending time with some truly magnificent youths in the past week. 

I have mentioned the GCMP (in Japanese) numerous times on this site, and I participated in the wrap-up meetings  (in Japanese) for the Bangladesh summer program of this year.  Everyone worked in an environment which is dramatically different from Japan and they talked about issues including “water,” “waste,” “health,” and “education.”  I also spoke myself and offered up several suggestions.  They were able to expand their horizons, really grow and widen their circle of acquaintances. 

Next up was the Asian Innovation Forum (Ref.1) organized by Nobuyuki Idei, formerly President of SONY.  I have had the honor of participating in this Forum for the past four years.  I found the Forum of two years ago extremely stimulating, had a more sedate experience last year, but once again found the Forum to be inspiring this year.  This return to form can be partially attributed to six months having elapsed since the events of 3.11.  We also have a new prime minister.  In the face of the rapidly changing world that we live in, one does wonder what those individuals who are our “leaders” of Japan are thinking.  The talk of Naoki Inose, the vice-governor of Tokyo, was straightforward and thoughtful. 

This year I was part of the How Innovation is Changing People, Companies and Society  and participated in the Closing Session panel and gave a Keynote Address.  In the course of these activities I got to hear the ideas and musings of Mr. Idei who is truly a thinker of great depth and perception. 

In the course of the two-day gathering, I had the opportunity to converse with the young participants over lunch and in the meetings, and was impressed with these passionate individuals.  I think, more than anything, that it is important for us to take on the role of pushing these youth to look beyond and outside of themselves and to create arenas for activities.  I believe that many “adults”, having grown up in a different era, do not have a basic understanding of the fundamental differences of days gone by and rapidly becoming uncertain times of globalization.   

I stepped outside after the end of the two-day forum into a raging storm. 

The GRIPS graduation ceremony was held on the 16th (photos) .  As generally happens every year, almost all of the fall graduates are students who spent time with us from abroad.  Attendees included ambassadors from many nations, embassy staff and others and the multicolored flags of many countries lined the campus.  Definitely not your typical Japanese graduation ceremony!  

It was, as always, an emotional and inspiring experience for me to just participate in this GRIPS graduation ceremony and send out youth who will become leaders of nations around the world. 


Summary of My Recent Activities: Singapore, Hiroshima, SoftBank, and Kanazawa Institute of Technology


I have been busy these days, which is nothing new….. And since my blog postings can not catch up with my real time activities, I would like to post here a summary of my recent activities.

From Sydney, I moved to Singapore.  Here, I visited several public institutions such as Temasek, National Research Foundation, EDB (Economic Development Board)A*STAR, and SPRING with my friends from Japan to promote mutual connections.  Arrangement of appointments with these institutions went quite smoothly because I have been in touch with them for many years as you will see if you search this web site by the key word “Singapore”.  Besides these visits, I also spent some time in Singapore with several private entrepreneurs or companies at meetings or meals.  Anyway, my impression here was that they are quick in understanding our points, very positive, fast in taking actions, so much that we started worrying about whether we can catch up with their speed in follow ups.  In this period of great transformation, nothing matters more than mutual personal trust, networks, and speed for action.

I had dinner with professor Ito (which is a regular event in Singapore) of A*star together with Dr. Shigeki Sugii (in Japanese),  Assistant Professor at the National University of Singapore from this year after earning a PhD degree at Darthmouth University, and completing Postdoctoral research at UCSD.  I also had meals with several people including Ms Tan Siok Sun, the daughter in law of Goh Keng Swee, major figure with Lee Kuan Yew in the founding of Singapore.

On 10th, I went to Hiroshima to attend a meeting which was originally scheduled in March by Dr. Yorioka, my long time friend, a nephrologist who retired from the position of the Professor of Faculty of Medicine, University of Hiroshima this spring. The gathering was postponed because of the great disaster.  I gave a speech for about an hour.  Recently, I focus my speech on “Age of Uncertainty” because we are now living in the age of global transformation.  This theme, I believe, is relevant to everyone regardless of boundaries, especially to those who are working in the field of education.  I spent a great time here and enjoyed reunions with many old friends.

The next day, on Sunday, September 11th, I saw Dr. Azimi (Ref.1), former Director of UNITAR.  It has been a long time since I saw him before, and there were so many things to talk about, but unfortunately we ran out of time, and I had to leave for Tokyo.

The day was precisely the 10th year of the “9.11”.  The whole world remembered this day, and I think every each one of us, in memory of this tragedy that took place 10 years ago, strongly felt how drastically our world has changed since.  And it happens that this was also my birthday.  I went to the same restaurant as 10 years ago with my family.  I received so many Happy Birthday e-mails and stayed up until midnight sending reply to all messages.
On Monday, the 12th, I attended the International Conference for the launching of “Japan Renewable Energy Foundation (自然エネルギー財団)“.   This foundation was founded by Masayoshi Son of Soft Bank.  Multiple resources show that his keynote lecture  (Ref.1) was well accepted.  The program was nice with many guests from overseas.  This conference will continue for 3 days.

In the late afternoon, I gave a lecture at a gathering of business persons hosted by Kanazawa Institute of Technology .  My topic here was again “Age of Uncertainly”.  I used the same title as at Hiroshima, and talked basically the same things although I changed the outline a bit.  The huge hall was filled with quite a number of people.  I think my speech was welcomed by business persons, and especially people at the Kanazawa University, the host of this event.  Since I knew that Kanazawa University has enrollment of over 1000 students per grade, its employment rate exceeding 95%, which means that it holds a high position in the employment rate rankings (though there are a variety of this sort of rankings….), one research showed that Kanazawa University scored 9th in the national level, so I made some comments on the background of this fact, what it means, and what the issues of the companies are.

During this couple of weeks, I have been busier than ever before, seeing lots of people, attending many events, so many things tend to fall behind.

Liberal Arts Summer Course for High School Students Held by College Students from Harvard and Japan – 2


I gave the Keynote Speech on the first day of this Course.  I spoke on a number of points including how the world has changed dramatically in the past 100 years, how globalization has brought about incredibly rapid change in the past 20 years and how it is difficult to predict what is in store for us in the future in light of current worldwide situation.  I then, based on these thoughts, talked about why the Liberal Arts are so important.

Since this Summer Course was launched by a Harvard student, I also touched upon President Charles Eliot who, 100 years ago, transformed Harvard into the university it is today.  I fielded a number of questions and greatly enjoyed the interaction.

The next day, a reception was held in the evening at GRIPS with the Harvard Alumni Association also invited.  I also was able to attend and discovered that the talk by Tadashi Yanai of UniQlo that afternoon was a huge hit.  Listening to a number of the high school students in attendance, I found that everyone had been invigorated by their experiences of just two days and that they felt that their thoughts on their future had changed and they were now really grappling with what they wanted to do in the future.  That is a good thing.  Their lives have just begun and it is good to have an abundance of choices.

A video message has been posted from the main mover behind this Course, Ryosuke Kobayashi of Harvard and his comrades, and an article about the Course was also published in the Japan Times.

The events of the Course are scheduled to be posted on the web and our activities were also covered by a number of media outlets.  It should be fun to see what transpires.

Liberal Arts Summer Course for High School Students Held by Students from Harvard and Japan


The Summer Course 2011 scheduled for 8 days from August 20th to August 27th has begun.  This Summer Course is the work of the Harvard College Japan Initiative ? Liberal Arts beyond Borders (HCJI-LAB).

Ryosuke Kobayashi, a junior at Harvard, came up with the idea for this Course about a year ago.  Over the past several years, I have been getting together and interacting with many friends who are undergraduates (actually only a few), graduate students and post-docs whom are working in various capacities at Harvard and MIT.  About a year ago, I watched Kobayashi’s video on the web where he talked about how he came to the realization that a liberal arts education was extremely important and he wondered why he was not aware of this fact when he was a high school student in Japan.  I immediately got into contact with him, began to work on a concrete plan and started full scale preparations in Japan from May of this year. 

Japanese university students worked together with Kobayashi to make this plan a reality by coming up with a plan, pooling their intellectual resources, meeting with many individuals, while overcoming many problems.  In truth, you cannot imagine all the problems and issues that they had to deal with.  They had to get permission from and coordinated with the involved organizations, come up with funding, secure locations, worry if they could actually get the Harvard students to come and whether they could enrol their target number of 80 Japanese high school students.  They overcame all this and more with an incredible amount of support and cooperation.  GRIPS and Impact Japan did what it could to provide support for Impact Japan and the afternoon meetings where held primarily at GRIPS in the Roppongi area.  Approximately 120 youths in total stayed at a ryokan in Hongo and participated in many group seminars in the evening.  The program was extremely intensive.

Yet even though Kobayashi had all this support, I am sure it was a real challenge for him, because he alone was overseeing both sides.  I took him to meet various individuals and many were extremely generous in providing assistance.  I would like to take this opportunity to offer my thanks to all.

On the Harvard side, a lot of support was received from Hirotaka Takeuchi who has been working over the past 10 years on the establishment of the Hitotsubashi Business School and returned to Harvard Business School last year to take up a teaching post.

Thus the students embarked on an educational program backed by admirable objectives and broad-based support. A great lineup of participants was assembled with 20 students from Harvard, 20 students from Japan and 80 Japanese high school students selected from 250 candidates.  Each day was marked by special guests including Hirotaka Takeuchi from Harvard, Tadashi Yanai from UNIQLO, Seiichiro Yonekura from Hitosubashi University, Takeshi Niinami from Lawson and myself.  The students from Harvard also served as instructors.

The three-month preparation was extremely taxing.  Finally the opening date of the 20th was upon us, and I gave the Keynote Speech to open the program.  I will report back on this at a later date and I am sure it launched a fruitful 8 days.

A festive reception was held on the evening of the next day which was attended by about 120 students and the Harvard Alumni Association at GRIPS, and the students were bubbling with excitement even after just two days and I got hit with a barrage of questions related to what steps they should take in the future.

I will also report on this separately, but it is really important to provide youth with a glimpse into the possibilities of the future and let them get up close and personal with some real life experiences.  That is the essence of education!





Joi Ito and Hiroshi Ishii, the Two Japanese of the MIT Media Lab


MIT Media Lab is an internationally known research center.  Founded in 1985, many Japanese companies collaborated with this Lab in research projects so perhaps this might have made the Lab even more known in Japan.

A Big Bright News is that Joi Ito was recently appointed as the director of this Lab.  I had an opportunity to have dinner with Joi and Dr. Hiroshi Ishi, associate director of the Media Lab several days ago.  Dr. Ishi also participated in this year’s TEDxTokyo as our guest, and he gave a wonderfully enthusiastic speech for us.

At the dinner, our topic covered broad range, but basically the discussion was about how to encourage Japanese youths mix with the world.  In addition, since Joi is actively measuring the radiation around the Fukushima area after the “3.11”, we exchanged views on this issue, too.

This year, Dr. Ishii was introduced in the “Portrait of Modern Age Leader (Gendai no Shozo, 現代の肖像)”, in the April 25 issue of the AERA magazine. Joi Ito also appeared as the “Cover Person” in the August 8, 2001 issue together with the article titled “The Future of ‘The Places to Make Future of the World’ (‘Sekai no Mirai Wo Tsukuru Basho’ no Mirai, 「世界の未来を作る場所」の未来)”.

Joi has been well recognized in the world as one of the alpha-bloggers for more than 10 years and Dr. Ishi is very active as you see in twitter (@ishii_mit).  These two are forever hot.

August 6th: Hiroshima, Fukushima and Global Health Summer Course



August 6th is the date of the A-Bombing of Hiroshima.

The ceremony in Hiroshima took place, as always, in the stifling heat of summer, and I have to wonder how the words offered up by Prime Minister Kan were heard by the people of Hiroshima, the people of Fukushima and the Tohoku victims.

What kind of country will Japan become?  I feel like we have been trapped in a 5-month-long nightmare.  The situation surrounding the Fukushima cleanup and its ultimate disposition is still murky.  In addition, nothing has been clarified for Tohoku in terms of how to handle the current situation on the ground, plans for the future and what will be the ultimate role of the state.  Moreover, attention seems to be more focused on what are essentially tempests in a teapot with resistance being exhibited by the old guard, generic scandals and Ministry of Trade, Economics and Industry personnel matters.  There is a growing sense that Japan is becoming a pitiful excuse for a country.

A feeling of gloom and doom is hanging over everyone because the world at large may again be on the edge of an economic collapse. Just what exactly should Japan do under such ominous circumstances?

Many people attribute the current political state of affairs to the (Japanese) public at large, but it is actually more of a push back to the tyranny of the “Cartels of the Mind.” Universities and the media (which seems to just cast ‘talent shows’ and ‘dining spots’) also bear a heavy burden.  I have repeatedly made the point in this blog, that we in Japan have been almost exclusively focused on economic growth with industries being unable to function in the globalized world of the past 20 years. I recently wrote about some of these same points in the official journals of the New Komeito and Liberal Democratic Party.

A couple of days ago, I introduced the “Global Health Human Resource Training Seminar — Global Health Summer Program 2011” (Ref. 1).

The morning of Saturday August 6th marked the end of the two-week course.  Four different teams gave presentations on the topic for this year which was policy proposals aimed at the eradication of polio throughout the world in the expansive Fukutake Lecture Hall at the University of Tokyo Hongo campus. Everyone presented well-thought-out and unique proposals and it was extremely difficult to score the presentations. A combination of the various proposals present by each of the four groups might actually make for a good project in the future.

I actually took to my bed during this two-day period, because I had an absolutely awful cold, but I woke in the morning and finally felt able to put in an appearance.

It was definitely well worth the effort, because the participants have given a lot of thought to the wheres and whys of the task at hand.  Many of them commented that they had never really given any thought to such problems before and this activity allows them to greatly expand their horizons and way of thinking.

I went to lunch with the students and many individuals who supported their activities.  Many commented that they were starting to think about their next career path from a different perspective.  It is always a pleasure to interact with those individuals who will be responsible for leading us into the future.

This event marked the gathering of a group of approximately 20 passionate and driven students, some of whom have studied in the United States and France while others have gotten real life experience in places like Africa.  I really enjoyed interacting and getting to know such students who are looking to build a global career.

I left early to get home, pack my bags, and head off to Narita to depart for Qatar.  I will be participating in the unveiling of the Academic Health System Initiative.  This undertaking is quite something particularly in the heat of the summer and at the beginning of Ramadan.

I will report back later on how things go in Qatar.