Congratulations! The Success of Mr. Tamesue and Mr. Endo of Xiborg

→ Japanese

Recently, Ken Endo (1, 2, Wikipedia in Japanese) of Xiborg is attracting a lot of attention for his brilliant work. I have known him from when he was a PhD candidate at MIT. After successfully getting one, he came back to Japan and started working for the SONY Computer Science Laboratory (CSL). He started a company in collaboration with Dai Tamesue, an Olympian and medalists in World Competitions, who is director of the organisation, and they unveiled a new experimental running arena, the Brilla Running Stadium (in Japanese) on the 10th of December (press release in Japanese) at the now infamous Toyosu (because of the scandals and problems unearthed by Tokyo Governor Ms. Koike).

The stadium boasts a wide variety of tracks, with some of the tracks using materials slated for use in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and through this innovative location, they aim to help disabled people feel like Superman!

With audacious goals, these young people seek to leave an impact on the global scene, carefully preparing and planning, overcoming the inevitable setbacks and painful situations. I am always inspired by such young people, and feel encouraged by them.

They will shake things up, I am sure, and inject new life into a gradually stagnating Japan. Let’s go for Gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics!


In Toronto Again!


Its already the third time that I am visiting Toronto this year. This time, it was to attend a meeting of the World Dementia Council, the first meeting after being re-formed at the 2013 G8 Summit held in the UK.

This date was arranged to follow the week-long Alzheimer’s Association International Conference that was held a few days earlier in the same city.

As soon as I checked in at the hotel, I headed out to the ballpark where the local team the Toronto Blue Jays were taking on the San Diego Padres in an MLB game. The stadium was almost full, meaning that the only seats available were the very steep outfield (500 level) seats. I had to leave the game at the top of the 7th inning. When I opened the morning paper the next day, I found that the game had not only gone to the 12th innings, but that they had overcome a 2 run deficit to post an improbable and dramatic walk-off win. The home crowd must have gone wild! You can relive the game through the following links (link 1, link 2).

Returning to topic, at the first meeting of the new independent World Dementia Council, there were discussions of several recommendations for the agenda, a brief summary and an outlining of the transition process (1).

The WDC was till recently a council created under the purview of the UK government. This was the first meeting as an independent council, yet there was very little discussion about how the new WDC would seek to enact changes that would help distinguish it from its predecessor. There was a general emphasis of discussion about such strategic intent, and I provided my input based around these observations. I think that this repositioning from UK Government to an independent one will be more difficult than imagined, but one that will nevertheless lay the foundation for the identity of this very important group in the years to come.

As one of the nations with the highest levels of population ageing, how will Japan act in the coming years. At the G7 held in Ise-shima in May, A Vision for Global Health was outlined, and section 2-2-2.5 deals addresses the issue of dementia. Similar recognition is required at the G7 Kobe Health Ministers’Meeting. For the ‘dementia tsunami’is something that we can predict with a high degree of certainty.

I met a lot of people here including John Dirks from the Gairdner Foundation, and Peter Singer, CEO of Grand Challenge Canada, and also had the opportunity to meet Consulate General Nakayama at the embassy.

I also mention Dr. John Dirk’s name here to celebrate the fact that the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award ( one that Dr. Satoshi Omura, Nobel Laureate of 2015, received in 2014) that was started in 2009 has been renamed to honour him ahead of his imminent retirement from the Foundation.

A Bright and Energetic Next Generation


Last week, Ken Endo of SONY CSL, the breeding ground of crazy and eccentric individuals, stopped by my office along with Mr. Dai Tamesue and Mr. Sugahara of RDS. He came to announce that he has started a venture business in order to continue the research he had been conducting at MIT on prosthetics.

I have known him since he was studying for a PhD at MIT. I have supported him at See-D (in Japanese) and others.

While he has been active in promoting events that support people in poverty who use prosthetics due to accidents or land mines, he has also working with Paralympic athletes to further push forward the possibilities of humankind. One of his professors at MIT is Hugh Herr, who gave an astounding presentation on prosthetics at this year’s TED talk. With this technology, it may be possible for Paralympic athletes to surpass the record set by Olympic athletes. This was recently the case in the match between a computer and professional Japanese chess player (in Japanese).

Mr. Sugie of WHILL also came to visit, the first time since he moved his base to Silicon Valley. WHILL is a venture business that was set up by young engineers from four major Japanese companies. They introduced me to Mr. Hasegawa of WINGLE (in Japanese), which supports children who have unique talents that are less compatible with conventional educational methods.

Also, Mr. Matsuda of Teach for Japan, who I introduced on this site just recently was featured in the Globe section of the Asahi Shimbun (in Japanese).

There are many amazing individuals who are active in a wide spectrum of areas.

San Diego to San Francisco


This is my third time (1) visiting San Francisco this year.

I wish I could say that this time, I was here to see the America’s Cup, but it is not so. The reason for my visit was to attend Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia’s GSCIA (12) at the Fairmont Hotel. I was able to see many people in and around the hotel from the America’s Cup and people involved in Oracle.

The first and second days were the last round of the America’s Cup, in which the champion would be decided. The race was the Emirates Team New Zealand vs. the Defending Champion Oracle Team USA, with the score being 8:5, and the challenger being one race away from winning. The rooms at the Fairmont Hotel were priced steeply and there were very few vacancies.

The first day was the reception and the morning of the second day were three panels on the High Level Forum Green Future, of which I was on the first panel. All three were very interesting.

At lunch, Prime Minister Najib gave a speech and there were four MOU ceremonies. I participated in the signing of Japan’s cooperation. This was because the Prime Minister’s chief scientific advisor is my old friend, Mr. Zakri. Future relations should involve not only governments but also the private sector, with multiple levels of cooperation among many people.

At night, there was a banquet with people of the local businesses, as well as a speech by the Prime Minister and interviews. As this was an official public banquet, wine and other alcohols were not served and I felt a bit wistful but there is no use being remorseful.

Especially for people like myself who are in the academic world, the trust that is developed between us is free from special interests and forms a basis that is different from the relationships formed between governments and companies. This allows the advantage that new projects can be started on such occasions.

Oracle won the America’s Cup, but I had to return to Japan before the final results.

On the day after I departed for Japan, Oracle Team USA did not back down and there was a major reversal in the outcome.