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June 28, 2011


I doubted my very own eyes and ears when I saw you on T.V. by chance the other day when you were standing next to Prime Minister Kan exclaiming, “Please keep on being our leader for 10 more years” with a big smile. As an elderly friend who has harbored a feeling of genuine respect to you for over 30 years, I feel deeply disturbed that you are gleefully nearing your distance with the lame duck Prime Minister who is currently the target of sharp criticisms by the Japanese people.

Even after announcing that he will step down, Prime Minister Kan is exerting all his efforts to cling on to the post. Around the time when you suddenly announced your “Natural Energy Development” plan, the Prime Minister made an off-hand grand scale proposition to install solar panels to 10,000 million homes which he had never mentioned before. At the same time, he is trying to implement the “Renewable Energy Special Measure Law.” Can these synchronic moves by you and the Prime Minister really be just out of coincidence?

I anticipate that 100% electricity generation for practical use utilizing natural (renewable) energy technologies will require an unexpectedly long period of time. For a person who has declared retirement at 60 years old, shouldn’t all of your effort be devoted to achieving complete liberalization of integrated information database (i.e. “New Broadband Super Highway”) which you have advocated with zest as your lifework rather than committing yourself to develop new energy sources as alternatives to nuclear power to generate electricity?

Politicians, in general, are selfish in nature so they do not evaluate you for your personality or for your ideals but for your fame and fortune (i.e. being the CEO of SoftBank). As their roots of skepticism run deep, not only the Liberal Democratic Party but the major politicians belonging to the majority Democratic Party of Japan will socially distance themselves from you with the downfall of the Kan administration. Furthermore, as they are cold blooded, once they find out your shortcoming, if you happen to have any, they will explicitly attack you with fervor. To date, I have seen uncountable abhorrent cases like this in my life.

Even supposing that you have the wisdom and manipulative power to outwit these politicians, it is with regret that I think your recent extraordinarily busy schedule will hinder you from exerting your intrinsic talent to deal with them. As a person who has watched you over a long time period, I think that you are currently facing a critical crisis since the severe illness you suffered 30 years ago. The crisis you experienced back then was merely physical but this time around, you may be encountering a spiritual one. I sincerely hope that you will bear in mind that the Chinese character “忙” (busy) is a combination of “ruining (亡) your heart (心 ).”


June 20, 2011


The magnitude of the damages caused by the recent disaster which hit Northeastern Japan will probably reach historically unmatched levels. The catastrophe caused was not only due to the enormous earthquake but owes more to the gigantic tsunami generated by the quake which in turn devastated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Regarding the devastation of the nuclear power plant and the tsunami countermeasures of the facilities, specialists in the respective fields have voiced that the extent of the destruction was “beyond expectation.” However, there have been numerous oppositions that dispute this pretext.

In the July issue of the “Chuo Koron” monthly magazine which arrived in my mail last week, Professor Robert Geller (School of Science, The University of Tokyo), severely criticizes Japan’s mainstream seismologists in the article titled “Earthquake Prediction is Impossible Publicity Stunt called Beyond Expectation.” According to the article, back in the 1960’s, mainstream seismologists with the University of Tokyo’s professor emeritus as leading members announced that the occurrence of earthquakes in Japan will be predictable 10 years later if earthquake observation researches are conducted extensively throughout the country. Since then, “earthquake prediction” which is scientifically baseless became a national project and every time an earthquake occurred, the project’s budget and personnel increased accordingly only to behold the recent disaster without a hint. This proves that the researches were fruitless and did not serve their purpose to warn that an unprecedented quake was going to shake the country. If the “Large-Scale Earthquake Countermeasures Act” passed in 1978 (which created earthquake preparedness bodies on the national, prefecture and local levels) and the heavy concentration of various measuring devices to predict when the imminent “Tokai Earthquake” will happen were implemented to secure budget and personnel based solely on the subjective assessment of mainstream seismologists, such acts are nothing less than fraud. To counter the reality of such irrationality, I anxiously await objections to Professor Geller’s dissertation from mainstream seismologists.

Furthermore, in the same issue of the “Chuo Koron” magazine, an article by Dr. Masayuki Komatsu (Professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies) titled “Don’t Flee! Look 50 Years Ahead; The Moment I Refuted the Anti-Whaling Countries” is published. In the article, Professor Komatsu claims that representatives of countries belonging to the International Whale Commission who support anti-whaling base their theory that the whales are facing an extinction crisis which is not backed up by any solid scientific evidence. He asserts that unnecessary protection of whales will increase the number of these mammals to the point of disrupting the precious balance of marine resources . These two articles share a common denominator which severely criticize the corrupt relationship between some scientists and political/administrative authorities. In short, even “science” does not seem to be worthy of trust.


June 14, 2011


When you are feeling blue, how do lift up your spirits? In my case, I would, say, lie on the lawn, close my eyes and think of the childhood years of “Oshin.” The scene that appears in my mind is always the same which evokes spontaneous tears and the tears always washes away what is overshadowing my mind and heals my heart.

As the river swiftly carries the small raft which Oshin is on from her home village, she repeatedly calls Ma!” in tears to her mother who, in deep grief of parting, is waving her hands frantically on the shore. As Oshin looks up to the hills, she finds her father standing there in a stupor and she irresistibly screams “Pa!” At the age of 7 years old, Oshin does not feel deprived that she cannot even go to school like rest of the children since her family is severely poor. Not only that, she harbors an empathy towards her mother who loves her dearly although poverty stricken to the point of not being able to put food on the table three times a day and towards her father who decides to send her off to a far away town to become a babysitter to support the family regardless of her mother’s desperate begging of not to let her go. Oshin has the capacity to accommodate the bitter feelings her parents must have felt when they were not able to send their daughter to school how hard they wished and tried.

“Oshin” was a serialized Japanese morning television drama broadcasted on NHK from 1983 to 1984 so most of the young people of today may only know of her faintly as a heroin of a past television drama. Although the program achieved an unprecedented high viewing rate which is still unsurpassed, I found out that the neighborhood TSUTAYA, a DVD/video rental store, did not have the drama’s DVD in stock so I had to make do by renting a worn-out video to re-watch the whole serial. This incident is rather symbolic that “Oshin,” the embodiment of perseverance, has now become a thing of the past.

Present youth undoubtedly will not experience the poverty and hardships which Oshin had to endure and overcome. Furthermore, it is highly probable that they will not experience the intensely profound “love” between parent and child which Oshin was able to cherish but will reach old age even without understanding what it literally means. By the time such youths grow old, the possibility that Japan would end up being an economically and socially miserable country incomparable to what they enjoy now may be undeniable.

In order to avoid such from happening, I have set up a study group where I can engage in active dialogues with young people with aspirations so that I can contribute to making this country a better place to live in the future.


June 7, 2011


I mean no harm to crows but a group of people who are disorderly and unregulated like how the members of the Democratic Party of Japan are behaving themselves these days is referred to as a “bunch of crows” in Japanese. Let me also add that the essence of the Liberal Democratic Party as a group is almost similar in nature although their profile is low since they are, thanks to, not being the ruling party. What is most tragic to the Japanese people of today is that the nation’s power is in the grips of such unruly groups.

Upon reflection, party politics started to degenerate during the late Taisho Era and the “armed forces,” a group of bureaucrats who had military power, took advantage of this deterioration to seize political control by winning strong popular backup from the citizens. The madness of Japan’s history leading to World War II, the succession of the Manchurian Incident - the Second Sino-Japanese War - the Pacific War, all boils down to the reckless expansion of warfare caused by the armed forces who had blind but misleading faith in their power.

Yukio Mishima (internationally famous novelist) crosses my mind a lot these days. It was the fall of 1970 when he committed ritual suicide by disembowelment after addressing an oratory speech encouraging the soldiers who have congregated on the grounds of the Self Defense Force’s headquarters camp in Ichigaya to unite and cause a coup d’etat. When I come to think of it, the incident happened right after Japan achieved miraculous success of becoming a global economic giant only second to the U.S. in a short time span of two and a half decades from the total ruins of World War II’s defeat.

What Mishima demanded at the time was incomprehensible to myself who was only a year younger than he. However, as I look back, after Japan overcame the two big ordeals of yen’s currency exchange rate and the oil shock during the 70’s, the national government’s attitude towards the citizens who have totally lapsed into a complacent stupor of pacifism gradually became arrogant and together with the tightening of various regulations, scandalous incidents tainted by corruption particular to those in power rapidly increased.

The masterpiece “Essence of Failure” by Ikujiro Nonaka (written with several other co-authors, published by Diamond-sha; 1984) thoroughly investigates the six defeated wars starting with the Battles of Khalkin Gol all the way to the Battle of Okinawa and exhaustively verifies the organizational peculiarity of the Japanese armed forces before World War II. When I read the book, I acutely realized that the decisive weakness of Japan’s power structure remains unchanged to this day since the pre-war period with the exception of the grand scale change of guards (via massive purge) which took place after World War II’s defeat. Let’s face it. We only have one life to live. As a Japanese, now is the time to seriously contemplate and clarify how we identify ourselves with this nation.


May 18, 2011


The current national controversy over “nuclear power plants” is being debated in a Shakespearian style of “to be or not to be” (whether to retain them or to ban them altogether) and the public consensus seems to favor the latter (including gradual ban). A newspaper reporter who is one of my old acquaintances took the trouble to come to my office last week to find out where I stand on this issue. When I responded that I am “completely indifferent,” he looked perplexed so I made the following comments.

“I am a total amateur regarding nuclear power and I have no intention of meddling in this field in the future. This is because although there are specialists in this field in every country, their opinions regarding the safety of nuclear power plants differ subtly even among experts. With the devastating accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the public opinion seems to be overwhelmingly supportive of experts who are against nuclear power plants. However, details regarding procedures to shut down the nuclear power plants, how to generate and supply electricity after the power plants are closed, the effects these will have on electricity rates, etc. are all still in the dark. Under these circumstances, succumbing to short-term damage control policies pressured by popular opinion has a high possibility of leaving consequences which will be disputed in the future.”

In the past, opponents or those who are cautious about nuclear power constituted a minority among nuclear energy specialists and were ostracized and harassed by what is now popularly referred to as the “Nuclear Power Village” (constituted by nuclear power industries, especially electric companies generating electricity using nuclear energy, nuclear power plant manufacturers, regulatory government agencies, university scientists, researchers and media who advocated nuclear power technology, etc.). As if to retaliate for past humiliations, the opponents of nuclear power and those who hold cautious stances are taking every opportunity to speak out in defiance and are becoming leading opinion leaders on this issue as all the proponents who advocated nuclear power are now ducking their heads. As I recently came to know about this reversal of power, I realized that when it comes to secular issues such as asserting ones claim and preserving ones face, even the scientists (whose vocation is to engage in the verification of factual truth) become “just mediocre people” and could not help feel that “everything in this world is transitory.”

At the same time, I am amazed at how politicians always never let me down in their shameless behaviors. Former Prime Minister Koizumi who I thought was relatively decent when compared to other politicians looked back on the nuclear power plant promotion policies during his administration at a local gathering of his political district last week. In doing so, he criticized his own Liberal Democratic Party’s stance back then and claimed that the dependence on nuclear power plant must be reduced from now on. This is symbolic of the pitiful state of affairs where things are so absurd that it is beyond pity.


May 18, 2011


Among my close friends, Ms. Shinobu Sato (soprano/renowned singer) is revered as our eternal “Madonna” and we all very well know about how immensely she cares and loves her mother. We have heard numerous episodes about her mother on various occasions so we were all, needless-to-say, very disheartened when we learned that her mother passed away end of last year. Ms. Sato held her 17th annual “Mother’s Day” concert and after the performance, my friends and I were invited to a gathering to commemorate the passing of her mother. At the event, I was introduced to Ms. Sato’s father for the first time, a perfect gentleman in every aspect; noble countenance with elegant manners. Below is a summary of the speech I addressed at the gathering.

As Shinobu-chan took every opportunity to recount stories of her mother to us, I even went as far as to think that “… maybe she is fatherless.” Pardon my ignorance here. However, after meeting her wonderful father for the first time today, I came to a full understanding that in the Sato household, the father himself entrusted the upbringing of the only daughter solely in the hands of the mother whom he trusted.

As for myself, my friends often ask me if I ever had a mother since I am always talking about my father. Being the only son to my parents, my father took the initiative to raise me to become a decent individual and took thoroughly strict measures which made me who I am today so my memories of him are in abundance whereas the memories of my mother are all rather inconspicuous ones such as tenderly consoling me when I was feeling shattered after being scolded by my father.

After I wedded my wife who is standing over there, we were blessed with four children. As the children matured, they all started to call her “mother” (i.e. instead of mommy or mama). One day, the predominance of everyone in the family referring to her as “mother” prompted me to call on my wife as “mother” to which she immediately responded, “Your mother (meaning my biological mother) is no longer alive.” Although I was astonished at her first reaction, I did not give in and repeatedly addressed her as “mother” which eventually led my wife to accept being called so by myself.

It has already been 54 years since our marriage and our children, one after the other, have left home to raise their own families so there is no lively bustling like there used to be when I return home after a long day. But even at the age of 84, the biggest comfort is the fact that “mother” is at home. Shinobu-chan, I am well aware that you are the one and only mother to your daughter in your household. But please bear in mind that you are also an irreplaceable “mother” to Mr. Genda (husband) and your father.


May 6, 2011


Since the dates designated as national holidays for Golden Week were lined up nicely this year, my office in Akasaka was closed for 10 consecutive days and my secretaries were able to take a long vacation. During this period, I had initially intended to confine myself in the study at home to go through and sort out various materials, devote a considerable amount of time on writing and to indulge in reading books and magazines which I have purchased but not had the time to get to. However, what I actually ended up doing were wining and dining with my family as well as with my friends, going out to movies and concerts, golfing with my buddies, etc. - in short, I spent my time with activities that had nothing to do with work.

I usually do most of my writings in my study at home using a computer and when I am at the office, I spend most of my time there to take part in meetings and briefings, to receive guests and to converse with friends and acquaintances. Although I do make this distinction between what I do in my study and at my office, I somehow find myself not making much progress in my writing during the daytime on weekends and on national holidays when the office is closed. It is true that even as I write in my study, when something suddenly comes to mind, I call the office immediately and ask my secretaries to provide information or request them to make arrangements. Putting this aside, I must admit that the very fact that my secretaries who thoroughly know me inside out are keeping the “fort” (i.e. my office) safe brings me the peace of mind which words cannot express.

It has already been half a century since I have had my own personal office. It moved 7 times but has always been located in the vicinity of Akasakamitsuke. Furthermore, I have been blessed with a succession of secretaries who are highly talented with terrific personalities. The office and the secretaries have enabled me to engage in an exceptionally wide range of activities for a university professor to achieve rewarding results. Although it was customary for university professors in Japan to use the “office” which is allocated by the university for both official and private functions, I, even as a young man, had my doubts and rejected the idea. As I look back, I feel proud that I did not conform with what was considered the norm.

I will be turning 84 this year and at this age, it may be due time that I close such a thing as an office and opt to lead a life in leisure. Nay, I have absolutely no intention of doing so. As long as we are human beings, there is always a possibility that “there is no tomorrow.” This leads me to conclude that to “live gallantly” depends on “whether the person is living life in earnest with an ultimate aim which one strives to attain and age has nothing to do with this endeavor.” In line with my belief, I cannot wait for my office to reopen after the holidays are over.


April 19, 2011


Last week, two large scale and long-term projects which I have been giving much thought to for quite some time, coincidentally, made their first big step forward toward realization. The first project pertains to the “Graduate School of Project Design” the third university which I shall become the founding President. The application to establish this institution received official authorization from The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The second project pertains to the creation of the “Republic of Awaji” (refer to Rapport - 805). Upon the introduction of Mr. Yasuyuki Nambu who is currently concentrating all his efforts in fostering the “Agricultural venture” in Awaji Island, I was able to meet Mayor Yasuhiko Kado of Awaji City for the first time. As I explained my “Republic of Awaji” proposal in details to solicit his understanding, the Mayor responded with exuberant enthusiasm.

When I founded the Miyagi University, I created a new faculty and named it “Project Design,” the first of its kind in Japan. In Sendai (where the university is located), the response was something along the line of “The university President who came from Tokyo thought of a queer name.” However, one of my friends in the industrial sector who resides in Tokyo resonated with my definition that “design” in the wider context is a crucial process involved in materializing superb ideas and is the essential foundation of prominent undertakings in all aspects of life from business all the way to art. With his enthusiasm and support, the smallest graduate school to cultivate professionals in Japan (first enrollment of 30 students) will open its door in Aoyama/Omotesando, the most attractive location in Japan, next year.

The “lost two decades” symbolized by the unending economic stagnation and social malaise in a nutshell has been caused by dysfunctional politics. As a catalyst to overcome the current situation, I am paying close attention to the implementation of the “Comprehensive Special Zones” which is expected to be approved by the Diet very shortly (when designated as this zone, the municipalities will be eligible to receive a comprehensive economic subsidy package in order to maximize their creative ideas and strategies to revitalize the locality’s sustainable growth and prosperity). The “Special Economic Zone” (SEZ) which was instituted during the Koizumi administration was dwarfish in its conception to start out with when compared to those in other foreign countries and since it was administered inefficiently, it had virtually no positive impact on the economy. On the contrary, I have high hopes for the new “Comprehensive Special Zones” which was formulated by amending the shortcomings of the SEZ. Under this system, the whole island of Awaji can, in fact, become an independent “republic” of its own to reinvigorate the region and become the forerunner to give birth to the “United States of Japan.” I have full confidence that this long time aspiration of mine will become a reality.


April 15, 2011


It came as no surprise that the national average of voters who turned out to cast their ballots at the April 10th unified local election was 48%, the lowest record after World War II, but I was shocked that the voters’ turnout for the Tokyo gubernatorial election was 58% which is higher than the previous two gubernatorial elections. As for myself, since all the candidates running for the Tokyo Governor’s seat were repulsive and beyond my tolerance, I, again, abstained from casting my ballot.

I am acutely aware that voting at elections is the right as well as an important duty of citizens in democratic countries. But my grave concern lies in the continuous deterioration in the human qualities of the candidates who are running for office whether as a member of the Diet or for regional governments and the reason for this significant degradation is quite obvious. Whatever the profession, if the individuals are not particularly dissatisfied with the job they hold, they do not see why they would want to bother themselves to become a politician after going through a big commotion (read: campaign activities).

Election campaign which is an integral part of democracy originated in the West. This cultural factor may have a deep impact on why the Japanese do not seem to acquire the right frame of mind when engaging in such activities in comparison to the people of the Western world. Whenever an election is scheduled to be held, the candidates wearing victory headbands and white gloves get into their campaign cars which madly run around the electoral district and wave their hands frantically to complete strangers to attract their attention and solicit their support. After parking their cars, the candidates give speeches at earsplitting volume which often turn out to be void of content and when that is over, they indiscriminately start shaking hands of the crowd that have gathered with big superficial smiles. They act out this bizarre role which verges on the border of sanity without a cloud of doubt.

In order to undo such absurdity, I have strongly yearned for the implementation of two propositions; that is (1) “To ban election campaign activities of the candidates seeking office” and (2) “The right to cast a negative ballot.” The first proposal aims to “elect candidates whom the people wish over candidates who want to be elected.” To realize this, the candidates themselves should be prohibited from any political campaigning but instead be touring overseas countries at their leisure or engaging in introspective speculation in their studies while the supporters actively get involved in promotional campaign activities to get the candidates elected. My second proposal is to offer two election options to voters; either to cast a positive ballot to a candidate whom the voter wish to elect into office or to cast a negative ballot to a candidate that the voter wish not to be elected. With this, the number of ballots the candidates win would be calculated by subtracting the negative votes from the positive ones. However, since I am certain that the politicians who are currently in office will definitely oppose these two proposals, it is unfortunately apparent that the possibility of them being implemented is nil.


April 5, 2011


Mr. Hideo Sawada (founder and Chairman of H.I.S.), Mr. Masayoshi Son (founder and CEO of SoftBank) and Mr. Yasuyuki Nambu (founder and CEO of Pasona Group) have all established their unique companies during the early 1980’s when Japan was experiencing the so-called “venture boom” of young entrepreneurs. Since then, their businesses have gained tremendous successes and they have made a name for themselves. They are now in their fifties when one is most proficient at work with experience and maturity on their side. Furthermore, as they have enjoyed a long friendship with each other, they are referred to as the “Three Musketeers of Venture.”

About the time when both Mr. Son and Mr. Nambu had just set up their own firms 30 years ago, they happened to meet each other for the first time at my office in Akasaka. They immediately resonated at the same wave length and this marked the beginning of their long friendship. This being the case, the media often refers to myself as the “Father who fostered the growth of the Three Musketeers of Venture” but this is truly an honorable misunderstanding. Ever since I started to keep my private office in downtown Tokyo, many talented individuals have congregated at my office and it became a hot spot where we engage in lively, often animated, discussions. Mr. Son and Mr. Nambu just happened to be one of those members. Including Mr. Sawada, the three of them started to nurture a real friendship after they actually achieved huge successes. In short, what I wish to state here is that all three won acknowledgements based to their own creativity and relentless efforts.

Upon the request of the “Economist” magazine, I was asked to act as the MC of the panel discussion of the three gentlemen and all four of us had the rare opportunity to meet each other in person last week. The topic of the discussion was “Advice to Japan under Crisis.” All three had their own say on this theme and their perspectives were persuasive but the impact of the comments made by Mr. Son conveyed a powerful urgency as he had returned from a firsthand tour of the region which is designated by the government for the residents to evacuate voluntarily (located within the 20 to 30 kilometers radius from the troubled reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant) carrying a dosimeter to monitor safety from radioactivity.

Despite many generous offers from municipalities and private organizations to accept the relocation of the region’s residents to their community and/or shelters, Mr. Son found that there are still numerous people who were staying on due to reasons of their own - some were physically disable which made the move difficult while others were worried about their livestock or farmland. Whatever their reasons, the danger of them being exposed to radioactive contamination is extremely high and it was obvious that the government should enforce a “directive” for all residents to evacuate rather than encouraging a voluntary evacuation and leaving the decision up to the individuals. Mr. Son was enraged at the sorry state and said “Those residents who are able to evacuate have taken refuge without being told by the municipal governments. The issue at hand is what the government at the national level can do to assist those who are hesitant to leave. I felt so mad at the inaptitude of politicians and bureaucrats that I could not help the urge to knock out their brains.”


March 25, 2011


It has already been two weeks since the country was hit by the Tohoku Kanto Earthquake. How have all of you been doing? I sincerely hope that everybody is safe and sound. As the printing firm in Sendai which prints the postcard version of “Rapport” suffered damages, I decided to refrain from writing my weekly newsletter since the last issue of #814 including my homepage version. I apologize and solicit your understanding in me doing so.

Immediately after the earthquake, I tried calling my numerous friends and acquaintances in Miyagi, Iwate and Aomori Prefectures to confirm their safety/whereabouts for several days but to no avail since the phone lines were down. While my heart ached acutely at the disastrous state of affairs, I waited for the newspapers to arrive in earnest everyday regardless of the time of day. Including myself, I think there was not a time when the Japanese people yearned so eagerly to read the newspapers since the defeat at World War II 70 years ago. However, due to the magnitude of the disaster, the newspaper companies must have had difficulties in selecting which events to report within the limited number of pages available and ended up in leading themselves to excessively print gigantic headlines and photographs of the wreckages caused by the calamity.

As I looked upon such pages of the newspapers for two weeks, the memories of the days during World War II crossed my mind. At the onset of the war, the Japanese army and navy military forces were achieving glorious victories (?) in regions located south and north of Japan. Day after day, it became customary for the newspapers to run huge headlines which summarized the press releases announced by the military headquarters and printed oversized photographs which were picked randomly to back up the caption. But when I read the newspaper articles that were essential in providing accurate information, the actual status of the warfare and the details of where the wars were being fought were totally missing regardless of how thoroughly I tried to discern them.

As for T.V. coverage of the disaster, the stations repeatedly broadcasted the same information but the horrifying images of the devastations were beyond belief. In contrast to the tremendous catastrophe that befell on them, I was genuinely struck by the incredible calmness and orderliness of the victims and the respect I have harbored for the people of Tohoku where my ancestors came from further increased. The foreign media seem to be reporting the catastrophic event with emphasis on how the victims are withholding themselves with dignified perseverance. In this respect, I firmly believe that this disaster will serve as a dynamic force to reconstruct Japan which has been suffering from a chronic state of stagnation for a long time.


March 4, 2011


I was scheduled to give a lecture in Sendai last Saturday but I decided to check into the city one day prior to the event for a special reason. The purpose was to leisurely tour the exhibition which has been held since mid-January at Sendai Literature Museum titled “Transcending the Realms of Science and Literature - Special Compilation of Dr. Hideaki Sena’s Reference Materials.” As part of the exhibition, the organizer created a section to display “Messages to Dr. Hideaki Sena” (by his friends and acquaintances) and I was requested to author one of them. I, thus, wrote the following message after giving it much thought and care.

“As soon as I finished reading “Parasite Eve” (a prizewinning science fiction novel) by Dr. Hideaki Sena in1995, I called my friend who was teaching at the Tohoku University and asked him to introduce me to the author who was then studying pharmacology at the university’s graduate school. At the time, the Governor of Miyagi Prefecture strongly solicited me to become the President of a new prefectural university which was planned to open in Sendai shortly and in the process, I was desperately trying to identify and recruit faculty members who are capable of imparting new ideas that are intellectually stimulating to the students. Although I did not have a cloud of doubt that Dr. Sena’s superb originality and refined elaborateness will impregnate the students with intellectual stimulus, I had some concerns about his personality as he may not coincide with what I imagined him to be. If he turned out to be a morose and nerdish person, extending him the invitation was out of the question. However, when I met Dr. Sena, I was immediately charmed by the delightful young man who was good-humored, polite and buoyant with refreshing youthfulness. Enchanted, I passionately expounded in depth about my dream of founding the new university based on my ideals and zealously invited him to become a faculty member. Although Dr. Sena was perfect as a faculty, teaching students may not have been enough to satisfy his intellectual needs and allured by the “temptation of robots,” he decided to resign the university after 3 years. Nevertheless, to this day, I continue to dearly cherish the vivid first impression he imprinted in my heart.”

On Friday evening, as I wined and dined with my close friends in Sendai, the main topic of our conversation naturally focused on the aforementioned exhibition since Dr. Sena was also in attendance. The words which came across me most that evening from Dr. Sena who has established a distinctive footing in the Japanese literary world as a novelist with a scientific background was, “Whether engaging in scientific researches or writing novels, they are both the same in that the conception of the first inspirational idea is the most important.” Indeed, I have been fortunate to meet and get acquainted with numerous leading businessmen who have founded their own companies and bestowed with opportunities to learn of their experiences firsthand. It is quite an amazing coincidence that almost all of them mentioned that the key factor which determined the success or the failure of a new business venture boiled down to “the first inspirational idea that came to mind.” I am curious to know what your thoughts are on this.


February 22, 2011


The anti-government protests which started out as an upheaval in Cairo to overthrow the country’s dictator is currently sweeping throughout the Middle Eastern nations. I am impressed by the power of the Internet as a key tool to circulate information instantaneously which made these unprecedented wave of movements in the region possible. I, on the other hand, am so far totally keeping my hands off from Facebook, Twitter and blog since I do not have the desire or the time to communicate with the mass of people whom I do not know personally.

True, even after being 80 plus years old, I still give lectures, write articles in magazines and at times appear on T.V. and radio shows. What I convey through these mediums to the general masses though is solely my own perspectives on issues which I candidly share with people around me on a daily basis. Among the audiences/readers, there are people with whom I have come to nurture a friendship over time. These individuals are ones who concurred with my viewpoints, took interest in me and personally contacted me which brought about the opportunity to meet them in person. As such encounters are not rare, I intend to continue with my external activities to address my views to the general public.

Since my profession had nothing to do with winning “popularity” like politicians, critics and entertainers, I have not been actively committed to these external activities. As an alternative sort to say, I have always harbored an extraordinary interest in “people who inspire me” rather than on “political and social events with grave consequences.” Therefore, I am still an avid receiver of the media and I take special note to read the newspapers closely from the front to the back pages and I peruse articles which report new activities or achievements of specific “individuals.”

Take last week for instance. Needless-to-say, I was impressed by the news that astronaut Mr. Koichi Wakata was appointed to become the first Japanese captain of the International Space Station and to the news that 4 Japanese musicians won prizes at this year’s Grammy Award. What impressed me most, however, was the news that Chairman Marc Benioff of (a leader in cloud computing which none in the Japanese information industry does not know) traveled all the way to Japan to meet with Mr. Hitoshi Tanii, President of a venture capital firm in Osaka (which is virtually unknown to the Japanese information industry). Chairman Benioff came with a solicitation that his firm wishes to invest in this still yet to be known company. Such insightful newspaper articles serenely teaches me the meaninglessness of being outraged every time the front page news criticize the stupidity of the prime minister’s and other top level politician’s sayings and doings.


February 15, 2011


Although both I and others openly admit that the title “Director of the Ogasawararyu-reihou Shouke” (Head Family of the Ogasawara School of Etiquette which promotes the cultivation of human personality based on Japanese tradition and formality to respect others) least befits me, this very title enables me to attend the organization’s annual New Year’s party where members from all over Japan congregate in Tokyo and where I have the opportunity to listen to speeches from guest speakers who often turn out to be pleasant surprises and be seated at the same table where I can enjoy conversing with that person.

This year’s guest speaker was Mr. Akira Senju. Besides composing “authentic” music based on his sense of Japanese aestheticism, he also composes numerous theme musical scores for T.V. dramas, animations, movies, etc. which have firmly positioned him as a promising musician on the rise. Furthermore, he is one of the famous “Three Senju siblings” (his elder brother, Hiroshi, is a painter and his younger sister, Mariko, is a violinist).

As I made my opening remarks with this preconception, I was totally taken aback when Mr. Senju started his speech by first stating that he had always harbored an inferiority complex from his childhood to his youthful years saying, “During my infant days, I felt uncomfortable being a second son, when I entered Keio Gijuku Yochisha Primary School, I felt uneasy since many of my classmates were children of people with fame in various walks of life and during my student years at the Keio University’s Faculty of Engineering, I could not keep my mind fixed on my assignments.” While his honest confession took me by surprise, I, at the same time, suddenly felt a sense of familiarity and my interest in him deepened.

As the story goes, Mr. Senju eventually dropped out from the Keio University’s Faculty of Engineering and decided to apply for admission at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Despite the fact that his life was deeply intertwined with music since his childhood to his university years, it took him three years of maddening study to pass the entrance examination. After graduating from the university’s Department of Composition, he further went on to study at the graduate school and, this time, not only did he graduate at the top of the class, his graduation composition piece, “EDEN” became one of the permanent collections preserved at the Tokyo University of the Arts’ reference library. His life, in fact, is a verification of “genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

As I was conversing with Mr. Senju after his speech, I asked him if he knew Mr. Isao Tomita (an acclaimed electronic music composer who is one of my friends) since “EDEN” is an electronic music composition and he graduated from Keio University. To this, Mr. Senju responded, “Oh, you do know my master personally?” With such exchanges, our conversation increased in intimacy and we parted with a warm handshake. Upon returning home that night, I called Mr. Tomita. After a long phone conversation, Mr. Tomita concluded that things are making an interesting turn and that he must send an e-mail to Mr. Senju immediately so as to get in touch.


February 9, 2011


Fair complexion with delicate facial and physical features, modest in every way and abstaining from taking leading roles whenever possible; current Japanese young men seem to take these rather effeminate characteristics as ideal attributes. Out of pity, women refer to them as “herbivorous” males (although I think that rhinoceroses and water buffalos, both herbivorous animals, would have objections). I, on the other hand, am calling myself the “carnivorous senior” these days and am increasingly in high spirits! Not to say the least, my favorite dish is a sizzling sirloin steak. However, this does not mean that everything “carnivorous” is good. A good example of a bad case is that of what the investment banks in the U.S. used to be.

With the tail wind of the housing bubble behind them, local real estate companies sold residential homes like pancakes to citizens who did not know that they will not have the financial means to repay the high risk loan they have incurred. It was the investment banks who bought huge amount of these bad mortgage loans, bundled them with high-yield bonds and created attractive financial merchandises by utilizing their sophisticated financial engineering techniques. By paying a humongous fee to the credit rating agencies to guarantee their high credit worthiness, the investment banks saturated the world’s financial market with these deceivingly legitimate looking bonds. Such acts of greed are not permissible from the “authentic carnivorous” perspective.

After the “Lehman shock,” every one of these investment banks has had their fangs extracted. Some have disappeared after going bankrupt, some were acquired by huge commercial banks and others have become bank holding companies under the strict supervision of the FRB. Whatever they ended up being, I feel that they are all in a sorry plight. Last week, as I was giving a speech at Merrill Lynch Japan Securities addressing their important customers and the company’s executive officers, I was filled with an immensely deep emotion.

Although Merrill Lynch was one of the big three investment banks together with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, it has been acquired by the Bank of America and is now just one department of the bank specializing in securities. However, as far as Merrill Lynch Japan Securities is concerned, it was one of the first U.S. investment banks to pioneer its presence in Japan. During the years when Merrill Lynch was still operating the company at a big profit, it decided to set up its base here in order to take over the business transactions of Yamaichi Securities Co., Ltd. which went bankrupt. Having had this aggressive experience, I thought that their “carnivorous” trait still remained. As I bade goodbye to Chairman Nakayama of Merrill Lynch Japan Securities who sat in the front row seat and listened attentively to my speech, I said, “After all, I think it is best that the essential nature of the securities company to be that of a ‘carnivorous’ one.”


January 26, 2011


I was immensely impressed by the speech given by Ms. Oh Seon-hwa (professor at Takushoku University) which was delivered at the New Business Conference’s New Year’s party held last week. Born in Jeju-do, South Korea, she voluntarily enlisted in the country’s army for four years upon graduating from senior high school. After completing her service, she came to Japan as an overseas student and made significant progress which led her to graduate from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies’ graduate school. Since then, the Japanese publishers have printed 20 books written by her. Besides being an active author, she has been invited to give lectures at various events and is regarded as an extremely talented lady who is gaining rapid recognition.

Although this was the first time I heard her speech, I was enchanted by her personal charm - she abounded with interesting stories which are derived from the unique experiences of the life she has led and she had a very candid style of speaking. Her speech that day was titled “Japan’s Ambiguity - The Culture of Assimilation Moves the World.” Based on her past experience as an overseas student to Japan, she said everything about the country was inspiring to her during the first year to a year and a half. On the contrary, after the infatuation period was over, she started to dislike every aspect of Japan during the next two years. She elaborated on this theme citing concrete examples taken from her own personal experiences. She emphasized that this does not only hold true for herself but shared commonly by many South Korean overseas students who are studying or have studied in Japan who end up feeling disappointed or even go as far as harboring anti-Japanese sentiments.

Speaking from my own experience of living in a “first time” foreign country, I felt great relief during the early days of my stay when I discovered that the language barrier as well as getting used to a different set of manners and customs were not as backbreaking as I had anticipated. Furthermore, the friendliness of the local people softened my heart. However, after residing in the country for a year or two and becoming accustomed to the way of life there, I encountered a period where I started to subtly feel disturbed by many of the prevailing values of that country which did not suit me (against the backdrop of my native country’s values which I was brought up with).

Many foreign intellectuals have pointed out that the peculiarity of the Japanese society or the Japanese people when compared with other countries owes to the fact that “ambiguity is favored over logical thinking.” I recall that the Nobel Lecture given by Kenzaburo Oe (awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1994) was titled “Japan, The Ambiguous, and Myself.” Although this may have sent a message about Japan to the world, I believe Ms. Oh is an invaluable person who can legitimately explain Japan's ambiguity as the country’s strength to the international community.


January 20, 2011


Although I was born in Nagoya due to my father’s work, I grew up hearing my father whom I had the most respect for telling me that, “Your grandfather’s hometown is the beautiful castle town of Morioka in Tohoku.” This sowed the seed of longing for the Tohoku area during my boyhood years. My family moved to Tokyo when I was in 10th grade and over the time I have lived since then which was through the turbulent years which Japan underwent, I was able to gradually nurture and expand a relationship with the region. The reason why I accepted to become the President of Miyagi University (located in Sendai) after retiring from the President’s post at Tama University when I was already nearing 70 years old must owe to the fact that I had a longing for Sendai where my father spent his youthful years.

During one such night in Sendai, I happened to reread one of Mr. Hisashi Inoue’s major novels “Kirikirijin” (The People of Kirikiri) at the Miyagi University’s official residence for the President. When I first read the satirical novel in Tokyo, I enjoyed it with a hearty laugh but this time around, I could not help the tears from swelling. The unreasonable humiliations and hardships which the simple and honest people of Tohoku had to bear suddenly struck a cord within me as if it was a rude awakening although I myself have not experienced them personally. Since then, the Tohoku area, with certainty, increased its presence in my life.

From last week to earlier this week, I traveled to the bitter cold northern Tohoku area. In Aomori where I served as the first President of the “Aomori Risshi Chosen Jyuku” (青森立志挑戦塾; a 6 months study group to foster aspiring youths who will contribute to the betterment of Aomori Prefecture’s future) which was established three years ago upon the strong wish of Governor Mimura, a heartwarming party was held where numerous students and staff members gathered to celebrate the successful completion of my term. In Morioka, I was warmly welcomed by one of the first graduates of the Tourism Department which I founded at Rikkyo University 44 years ago. Being the general manager of the best hotel in town, he immediately guided his “former professor” to a splendid steak house and I became oblivious to the passage of time as we spoke at length while relishing the delightful meat dish.

I further traveled on to Akita upon an invitation to give a lecture at the New Year’s party of the local business leaders. The organizer was hospitable and extended me an unexpected offer saying that, “Since you are taking the trouble to come all the way, we would like to arrange for you to stay at the hot spring of your choice one day prior to the event.” I decided to take up on the generous offer and spent one whole day at “Miyako Wasure,” a paradise which is located in the remote northern hill of Kakunodate. By relaxing at the hot spring, my mind and body thoroughly recuperated and I was able to fully infuse an energy distinctive of the Tohoku region and returned to Tokyo feeling totally refreshed.


January 12, 2011


The first interview I received this year was from the Toyo Keizai Shinposha magazine. I was taken aback when they requested me to give my comment on the magazine’s serial column titled “Wisdom from an Elderly.” I could not help but exclaim, “You mean, I am an elderly man?” However, considering that I am already in my mid-eighties, I consented reluctantly by consoling myself that this is the honorific which society honors me by.

Since the end of December to New Year’s day, I devoted my time in cleaning up my study at home. As I was doing so, a piece of paper fell from among the pile of old books. When I picked it up, it was a type written copy of Samuel Ullman’s famous poem “Youth.” As an American businessman, Ullman found time to write poetry during his time of leisure and this famous piece, “Youth,” was written when he was 80 years old. The poem is fondly read and quoted by prominent leaders from all walks of life throughout the world and the verses have left vast influences.

The poem “Youth” came to be widely known in Japan when words spread that General Douglas MacArthur who became the Supreme Allied Commander of Japan after World War II hung a copy of the poem on the wall of his office in Tokyo and Mr. Konosuke Matsushita (founder of Panasonic) kept it as his favorite motto. I read the Japanese translation of the poem when I was about 40 years old upon the recommendation of Mr. Matsushita. Wholeheartedly impressed, I immediately found the original version of the poem in English, typed it up and carried a copy with me wherever I went so that I can repeatedly read it aloud which enabled me to totally memorize the whole poem. As I looked at the old piece of paper with nostalgia, I started to read aloud the verses which have almost faded from my memory and as I continued to read along, I felt a sudden surge of youthful blood gushing within myself.

Since the end of last month, I started to keep a copy of the poem in my jacket’s pocket again and began to recite it. Ullman, whose verse, “In the center of your heart and my heart there is a wireless station; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, courage and power from men and from the Infinite, so long are you young” which continues to give me courage on a daily basis, passed away 4 years after he published the poem at 84 years old in 1924. As I will be turning 84 years old this year, I would like to keep a high spirit within my heart so that I can depart to a higher sphere with grace any time when the call comes and to live out what is left of my precious time with dignity.

In closing, I would like to quote Banzan Kumazawa’s words.

“At a time of excessive distress, let us maximize our wisdom to perceive them as positive challenges to cultivate new opportunities.” (憂き事の、なほこの上に積もれかし 限りある身の、力ためさん)


January 5, 2011


I hope that all of you welcomed a peaceful new year. According to the twelve zodiac signs in Chinese astrology, 2011 is the year of the rabbit. Being born in 1927 (year of the rabbit 84 years ago), it occurs to me that this may well be the last time I will be referred to as “the man of the year” (meaning a man who was born in a year with the same Chinese zodiac sign as the current year). With this in mind, I intend to restraint my past inclinations to indiscriminately pursue whatever arouses my curiosity as much as possible and try to concentrate on allocating my time and capacity to prioritized matters as well as to build a diversified cooperation network with many of my friends and acquaintances.

This being the case, whenever I have the opportunity to talk with my friends and acquaintances, I plan to delightfully bring up topics pertaining to what I am currently deeply committed and involved in together with what I definitely wish to see accomplished. Accordingly, when I was celebrating an intimate New Year’s party with Mr. Jitsuro Terashima and Mr. Keiichi Hisatsune day before yesterday, I took the opportunity right away to speak at length with passion about the establishment of the “Graduate School of Project Design” in Aoyama’s Omotesando which I am involved in its founding process upon the request of Mr. Hideya Azuma, the rehabilitation of Huis Ten Bosch which I have been assisting Mr. Hideo Sawada with since last year (i.e. what I am diligently working on now) and the dream of creating the “Republic of Awaji” (i.e. what I desire to achieve; referred to in Rapport - 805).

The outcome of my conversation was most encouraging! The positive responses expressed by both gentlemen were more than I expected and they even provided me with their invaluable advices. Mr. Terashima, especially, got enthusiastic saying, “The idea of setting up the ‘Republic of Awaji’ is an outstanding concept to regenerate Japan! By all means, we really have to bring this about.” I was utterly impressed when he started citing names of influential individuals in various fields whom he is familiar with and who can be counted on as potential collaborators and he even went as far as to promise me that he will try to persuade them to extend their cooperation to realize the endeavor

Although Awaji Island is the hottest issue I am interested in as of now, I only know two individuals who call this place their hometown; the late Mr. Yu Aku (the famous lyricist) who was one of my best friends and Mr. Kahei Takadaya (1769 - 1827) whom I venerate as the genius among Japan’s merchants. Throughout our long friendship, I cannot recall Mr. Aku talking about his hometown and Mr. Kahei Takadaya did not leave an autobiography. Thus, over the New Year’s holiday, I read the historical novel featuring Kahei titled, “菜の花の沖” (Nanohana no Oki) by novelist, Mr. Ryotaro Shiba, and through his work, I was overwhelmed afresh by the grand scale of Kahei’s personal character and his human charm. As a result, I am now more for Kahei over Ryoma (i.e. Ryoma Sakamoto, a visionary who tried to modernize Japan by overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate).

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