December: Many Meetings and Busy Days


Following the seminar by Dr. Garrett on December 2nd, the Global Conference on Universal Health Coverage, organized by the World Bank and the Japanese government (1), was held on the 5th and 6th.

President Jim Yong Kim gave an excellent key note speech, and I had the opportunity to speak with him. At the time when President Kim worked at the World Health Organization (WHO), I was the WHO Commissioner, so we knew each other indirectly.

On the afternoon of the 6th, I went to Tokai University where I was Dean of Medical School (1996-2002) for the first time in in last few years and gave a special seminar. On the 7th, there was a conference at the University of Tokyo, hosted by the Graduate School of Public Policy, with the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident. The moderator was Mr. Nobuo Tanaka, a leading figure in international energy policy.

On the 9th, I had lunch at the French Embassy with Ambassador Philippe Meunier, who is the ambassador in charge of measures against AIDS and Communicable Diseases.

On the 11th, there was a meeting hosted by the Health and Global Policy Institute and held at the international conference center in the Parliament, which welcomed Governor Patrick of Massachusetts of the United States. Professor John Hamalka of Harvard University also participated via Skype. This turned out to be an outstanding conference and the governor seemed very satisfied. In the evening, there was a reception at the US Embassy, hosted by Ambassador Kennedy, there were many people there and it was a bit hectic.

On the 12th and 13th, I attended the Asian Innovation Forum with Mr. Idei, which I have already written about.

On the 14th, I headed to Abu Dhabi. There was a board members meeting of Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KUSTAR) in Abu Dhabi, there I had spent a few days just three weeks ago.

In the afternoon of  the 15th after a break upon arrival, the President of KUSTAR gave a presentation to the three international board members, and the next day, 16th, the board members meeting had a good discussion and future planning.

After lunch, I enjoyed playing some golf at the wonderful Yas Links course, and then headed to the airport.

I returned Tokyo on 17th. After arriving home, I rested a bit and then in the evening had dinner with Erik Solheim at the Embassy of Norway. Mr. Solheim aimed to be a politician since his youth, has been a minister, and has contributed significant work as a Cabinet member of the Government and the world in peace keeping mission of Sri Lanka.

It has been very busy month, but I have been able to enjoy meeting many incredible people.

Seminar by Laurie Garrett


Dr. Laurie Garrett is an incredible individual who is currently a Senior Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. We had the opportunity of having her come to GRIPS during her one week stay in Japan. She has an amazing career, starting out as a researcher in biology and going on to win the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.

She expresses and writes on Global Health that are based on her work in the field, and I first started to work with her after her 2007 Foreign Affairs paper. As you can see in the photograph in this blog post, she highly respects Nelson Mandela, who passed away recently, and she even has a life size replica of Nelson Mandela in her room.

She kindly agreed to be a jury member to select the winner of Noguchi Hideyo Africa Prize in 2008 (and in 2013) when I was the Chairman. I was grateful to have her on the committee as her opinions are based on observations from the field and deep judgment.

This made me remember something that happened when I was at the Davos World Economic Forum. When I introduced Ms. Sadako Ogata to her, she started to shed tears. I asked what happened and she replied that she respects Dr Ogata so much that she could not help but be moved to tears.

Around fifty people were at her seminar at GRIPS and it was very well received. Afterwards, many people sent emails to me expressing their thanks.

The seminar was based on the her recent article “Biology’s Brave New World: The Promise and Perils of the Synbio Revolution”.

There are also the following her interviews/articles on the Council on Foreign Relations

1) Staying Safe in a Biology Revolution

2) Making the New Revolutions in Biology Safe

3) H5N1; A Case Study for Dual-Use Search

It is difficult to predict where biotech will go from here. However, what can be said is that ICT, nano, bio will keep moving forward and that humankind will move towards Singularity1).

One wonders what kind of world we will be in the future.

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.

The “Audacious Young Lady” continues her work, and my opinions


There are people who have chosen very diverse careers after working at the National Diet of Japan Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). The three people whom I introduced in my column, Mr. Shiina, Mr. Ishibashi and Ms. Aikawa, the “audacious young lady,” are examples of this.

Ms. Aikawa’s book, Hinanjakusha [The Vulnerable Evacuees] has been read widely, and recently there has been an online article of her interview (in Japanese). It makes me happy that her message is being spread. Young people will take action. It is quite impressive.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan’s magazine, The Number 1 Shimbun ran an article by me following up on NAIIC after it was disbanded, also featuring Ms. Aikawa, Mr. Shiina and Mr. Ishibashi.

NAIIC is the first independent investigation commission in Japanese constitutional history. As it is the first, many politicians, bureaucrats, media, academics and the people of Japan do not understand what NAIIC stands for. The response in Japan has been much weaker than abroad (1, 2).

It takes time for democratic systems to fully function.

I am very concerned about the situation at Fukushima Daiichi. We must not forget that there are many people around the world who are truly worried and concerned about Japan.

To Various Places


After attending the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group convention, I flew to Okinawa to attend the meeting of the board of governors at the OIST.

It was to be a three days two nights meeting (the 2nd , 3rd and 4th of October), but because I was feeling not well, I returned to Tokyo on the second day and participated through video-conference on the 4th. Although there is still a lot left to be done, I feel that it is wonderful that we have accomplished so much in so little time. I feel that this tenth anniversary will mark some big changes as well.

The next day, the 5th, I participated in the  Japanese Society of Nephrology’s ‘Panel Discussion For Gender Equality’ (link in Japanese), after which I headed to Kyoto for the STS forum (5th to 8th October). This event too was celebrating its tenth year in existence. With more than a thousand participants and with Prime Minister Abe giving the opening speech, the forum was off to a great start.  I was on the panel for ‘Education and ICT (Information and Communication Technology)’. I met with many friends and colleagues at the forum, and I also had the good fortune of meeting people from the Qatar Foundation who were attending for the first time. We had the opportunity to have a conversation and I also managed to provide them with the names of some researchers who would be able to cooperate with them.

On the 8th, after returning from Kyoto, I had a dinner with an executive of a foreign capital enterprise, and on the 9th and the 10th, I was invited to the 35th anniversary celebrations of Oriental Giken, where I lectured and shared the stage with Ken Kornberg, the architect who designed OIST. Ken is the son of Arthur Kornberg, a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and Roger, one of his brothers is a Nobel Prize Laureate in Chemistry. Another brother Thomas is an outstanding scientist in the field of molecular biology.

The next day, I went to a discussion with the Liberal Democratic Party about the form that a new Nuclear Regulatory Commission would take. After this meeting, I headed to a workshop organized by IOCA, a group that I met at the summer course on Global Health organized by HGPI. This workshop was getting some good reviews from among various organizations, so I wanted to take a look.

At night, I was invited to the Swiss Embassy, where I met with Honorable Doris Leuthard, one of leading Swiss politicians who is the Minister of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications portfolio, and I talked about nuclear energy.

Again, I was busy as always, but if I am asked what I have accomplished, or what I have contributed, I would be forced to pause and think.

The Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group


I participated in the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Nuclear Working Group convention in Osaka.

This group recently published a report detailing the strategic priorities regarding nuclear power in Japan and the U.S, and these conventions were part of their campaign. Although similar events were held in Fukuoka and Tokyo, I was only able to participate in the Osaka Convention.

The recommendations refer to the increased cooperative relations that are expected in the coming years, and most of them are very reasonable. One of the members of the committee, Charles Ferguson, was the chairperson during my NAIIC Capitol Hill Briefing that was organized by the Japan-U.S Council last October. He played no small part in ensuring that my briefing got the attention that it deserved by highlighting its importance.

At the Osaka convention, the panelist discussion was followed up by comments made by me and Professor Shunya Hoshino of Osaka University.

Because each of the panelists was well-versed in nuclear energy, the talk did not go into technical details, but rather focused on the larger issues, such as the significance of the NAIIC, the dangers of groupthink, as well as other problems that arose specifically because the accident occurred in Japan.

One such Japan-specific problem was the composition of the audience. Barring the two female simultaneous interpreters, there were only three or four women in the audience of more than two hundred. Talk about strange. I believe that this can occur only in Japan.

Among the four panelists, there was one woman, Sharon Squassoni(Director and Senior Fellow, Proliferation Prevention Program, CSIS).

After the convention ended, the members of the working group headed to Fukushima, while I headed to Kansai Airport, from where I would be flying to Okinawa in order to attend the meeting of the board of governors at the OIST.



I returned to Japan from Washington D.C. on Saturday the 21st. I took the day off on Sunday, was busy with meetings on Monday, and departed once again for the U.S. east coast on the morning of Tuesday the 25th for Boston. I took a direct flight from Narita, on the Boeing 787 that made the news with its problems of fire on its Japan-made battery last year.

I arrived around noon on the 25th. After resting briefly, I went to the MIT Media Lab. This was not the main objective of my trip, but I paid a visit to the Media Lab Director, Joi Ito (1) and the Associate Director, Dr. Ishii (1, twitter: @ishii_mit) and they showed me various projects. Ryuichi Sakamoto also happened to be there and they are talking about possible collaboration. They are involved in many interesting things. In the evening, I had a pleasant dinner with Dr. Ishii, his wife, who is a journalist and was a Niemann fellow last year (I follow their twitter), and his secretary.

The next day, I met with Professor Richard Lester, who invited me to Boston. He is the Director of the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering. He is leading a program entitled the International Nuclear Leadership Education Program, which is being held twice this year, each for two weeks, and invited me to the course. I was there for just one day, but I participated from eight in the morning through the afternoon. Among the participants were nuclear experts from the U.S. and Europe, many of them know Japan nuclear leaders and the IAEA, and qualified people from Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, Kenya, Mongolia, and Nigeria. They will go on to make their careers in this field, so the discussion was very lively and interesting.

The English version of the well-known NAIIC (National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission) Executive Summary report appeared on-line at the time of NAIIC report in Japanese and the full report was also made available on-line last October. As the full report is available, experts and everyone around the world can study and evaluate our report.

In the evening I attended the reception at the Museum of Science of Boston <>. The next morning, I started my return journey.

Speech at the National Academy of Sciences; Lost in Translation – “Accountability and Groupthink”


To Washington D.C. Dulles from Paris via Chicago O’Hare.

After being picked up at the Dulles airport, Washington DC, I went directly to the hotel, where I checked my powerpoint presentation.

The next morning, I went to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), which is across the street from the State Department. It has been two years since the last time I went there, and it is slightly bigger and the renovation has been completed.

Here, I attended a meeting hosted by the NAS on cooperation between countries with alliances for measures against CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear and Explosives). I gave the keynote speech, entitled, “Opportunities and Challenges in Coordinating the Response to CBRNE Events: Fukushima Daiichi, A Case Study.” Executive Director of the Office of International Affairs of the NAS, Dr. John Boright, my old friend, introduced me quite a very nice way. This meeting and lecture can be viewed online.

Due to the nature and the topic of the meeting, representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the military also were in attendance.

It felt nostalgic when I met with officials from the Department of Defense whom I had met during my visit of the National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) to Washington D.C. and Counselor of Security, Mr. Tsugita from the Japanese Embassy, whom I have known for a long time.

It is commendable that in the U.S., there are public meetings on such topics, hosted by the National Academy of Science in response to governmental request.

This year happens to be the 150th anniversary of the NAS, founded by President Lincoln, and there are many events going on. The founding spirit of the NAS is that it is an independent, private entity, which provides the government with advice on policies. This spirit has withstood many years of change and is the foundation of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, which represents the scientific community and is widely trusted by the American public and the world.

Even if such an example is imitated in Japan, without an understanding of the spirit, history and civic culture of the nation, many things will be will be lost in translation. In these past 150 years, there have been many such cases in Japan’s rapid modernization. This tendency has not changed and is still apparent today.

In this lecture, as an example of this, I pointed out the word “accountability” and how it’s meaning has been lost in translation (see top image, it has been edited slightly for this website). I explained that in Japanese, accountability is translated as “the responsibility to EXPLAIN.” Upon hearing this, the audience showed a surprised reaction with laughter. The true meaning of this word is “the responsibility to carry out the duty it has been given.” It has more weight than the word ‘responsibility’. In every job or position, there comes a duty, and it is fulfilling this duty that is the job of people in higher positions. It makes me wonder who started using this mistaken translation. I hope it is not someone who was in a top position.

Furthermore, I talked about ‘groupthink’ (see above image). Please ‘Google it’ in English and in Japanese. What does everyone think about the meaning of this word in Japanese? My view is that it is a herd of elites that never learns. My comments are on this site.

Underlying this mind set is the refusal to understand the significance of the “obligation to dissent” (see above image) and a society that excludes individuals who are different, who disagree and dissent. This can be seen in the weakness of the elites. If they do not acknowledge their weakness, they will forget to be humble and become arrogant.

It is this tendency for elites to take things for granted that is in the backdrop of the Fukushima nuclear accident. This self-serving mindset afflicts many elites resulting often major man-made disasters to the nation and the public.

Among the participants, there were many who had looked over the NAIIC report, of which I served as the Chairman. Some people said to me, “I understand better by listening to your talk. I have worked with many Japanese government officials before and I finally understand the things that were always unclear and did not make sense. Thank you.”

The NAIIC report is fact based and aims to have as little speculative and judgmental comments of the commission members as possible. For this reason, everything other than the introduction does not address specific matters of culture or society and presented ‘facts’ we found and learned. It may be difficult to grasp the true core message of the human factors, even for Japanese people.

This is the meaning of the ‘mindset’ and ‘single-track elites’ that is mentioned in the introduction at the beginning of the NAIIC report. In the English version, it is also mentioned in the “Message from the Chairman.”

I attended a dinner with the speakers and the hosts and departed the next morning. This was my third world-round trip this year.

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.