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June 27, 2012


At my Graduate School of Project Design, Vice President Tadao Kiyonari and I take turn in giving the President’s special course which invites prominent guest speakers who have succeeded in their respective fields every Saturday afternoon. I am full of gratitude towards all the invited speakers for willingly accepting to give a lecture by taking time out of their extremely busy schedule. Furthermore, the course extends over long hours starting at 2:40 pm and ending at 5:30 pm with an intermission in between. The course was initially designed to allocate the first half to the lecture given by invited guest speakers followed by a Q & A session and after a break, the latter half was for either V.P. Kiyonari or myself to give a discourse based on the topic discussed by the guest speaker. However, lectures of the invited guest speakers do not end within the allocated time period and even after an intermission, the graduate students engage in an active Q & A session that virtually no time is left for either V.P. Kiyonari or I to give our speech.

Week before last, the guest speaker was Mr. Takeo Shiina. His lecture started with his heroic tale of how he became the President of IBM Japan, Ltd. at the age of 45 years old after joining the firm upon completing his study abroad. In the process of evolving the company to what it is today, i.e. one of the best large-scale foreign-affiliated firms, he candidly spoke in retrospect of how he was in synch with the bureaucrats at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) all the way to how he crossed swords with the executives at the U.S. headquarters whose slogan was “Sell IBM in Japan, sell Japan in IBM.” It was an exhilarating two hours listening to his fascinating storytelling which he delivered with eloquence.

Last Saturday, wearing a black lace shawl over a light green maxi dress, Ms. Junko Koshino took the podium. Her mother, Ms. Ayako Koshino was featured as the main character of “Carnation,” a popular NHK’s morning drama series which aired from September 2011 to March 2012 and Junko-san is her second daughter and one of the “Koshino trio sisters” (her elder sister is Hiroko and her younger sister is Michiko), all of whom are world renowned fashion designers. Junko-san started her lecture by speaking about how she and her mother grew up while several highlight footages from “Carnation” were shown on the front screen of the classroom and continued to speak about her own spectacular life as a fashion designer by always comparing herself to how her exceptionally positive thinking mother lived her life. In between her speech, her husband, Mr. Hiroyuki Suzuki, who was present at the classroom made witty comments. All of us in the audience, the graduate students and myself, were drawn by the charming story becoming oblivious to the passage of time.

Just by listening to the enlightening lectures of Mr. Takeo Shiina and Ms. Junko Koshino, I fully understood that “project design” which the graduate school advocates cannot be taught by academic professors as a scholarly subject but by individuals who have achieved their career goals in real life.


June 21, 2012


When I was on my way to the Kansai region on a business trip the other day, I purchased a weekly magazine to kill time during my train ride. Although I began to turn the pages of the magazine as the train started, I gave up on reading it within less than 30 minutes since all the articles were full of rubbish which made me question the sanity of the reporters who can go through the trouble of gathering and digging into such trivial matters of insignificance. The only article which attracted my interest was the handwritten letter by Ms. Kazuko Ozawa, wife of former DPJ party President Ichiro Ozawa, which officially notified his supporters that she was divorcing her husband.

The article was written by Mr. Kenya Matsuda, a journalist, with the cooperation of the magazine’s reporting team and even had a photograph of the actual letter on the opening page of the magazine. Judging that 10 days have passed since the article revealed the letter and that there is totally no report that Ichiro Ozawa has taken any countermeasures against this, what his wife wrote in the letter must have been all true. In the letter, Kazuko Ozawa mentions that after she learned of her husband’s immoral relationship with a woman, her affection towards him had waned for quite some time. On top of this, she was disgusted by her husband’s contemptible behavior after the March 11th disaster last year when he abandoned his hometown in Iwate Prefecture and even fled from Tokyo out of fear of radiation. As her patience ran out on him, she decided to divorce him and left their home in Setagaya ward with their children.

Incidents like the “helplessly stupid son of Daio Paper Corporation” happen once in a while but with people in all professions, excluding politicians, build their status in the world by accumulating various experiences, committing unceasing efforts to cultivate their skills and deepen their knowledge and by being recognized as individuals with a highly respectable personality by others. On the other hand, among members of the National Diet which is the summit position among politicians, there are people like a father who was acting as a caddie of his daughter who made a name for herself as a successful golfer or a good-looking female newscaster of a T.V. station who was popular among viewers. The political parties without any pangs of conscience pick individuals who are amateurs in politics but whose names and faces are well known among the public and willingly provide them with funds to run for election for the sole purpose of winning more seats for their own party. As soon as these novices are elected, regardless of how ignorant they are about politics, they are automatically endowed with various privileges of being a diet member. In this respect, politicians may not be considered a profession. In other words, can we perceive Ichiro Ozawa as possessing a cunning talent to maneuver irrational political tactics, to indiscriminately increase his followers, to raise his power within his political party to become the boss of a big faction and a person who is spoiled by the ragtag of society who succumb to power?


June 15, 2012


With the globalization of the world economy, the majority of Japanese companies, although belatedly, have started to seriously secure talented individuals who can compete in the global market. In order to respond to this trend, policies are being actively implemented within all sectors including politics, government and academia. In light of this, it is not an overstatement to say that the most important national strategy in Japan now is to secure personnel who can succeed in the global market.

Under such circumstance, one of my foreign friends whom I am on very good terms with solicited my advice the other day regarding her nephew who graduated from a prestigious university in the U.S. with a master’s degree in the field of engineering. She informed me that her nephew who is fluent in Japanese, English and Chinese is interested in working for a Japanese firm. This prompted me to contact several friends of mine who are top executives at leading manufacturing companies which specialize in producing products that are directly as well as indirectly related to what my foreign friend’s nephew studied. When I sounded out their interest in hiring such an individual, everyone I spoke to indicated a keen interest and asked me to introduce my friend’s nephew to their company which was extremely encouraging.

However, when I contacted the head of the Human Resources Department of the respective firms (which my top executive friends referred me to) and asked how my friend’s nephew who is currently residing in the U.S. can apply for employment, they all gave me the same answer. All of them uniformly said, “In accordance with company regulations and customs employment of new recruits is conducted every year on the month of “X” at the firm’s Tokyo headquarters where the applicants will be interviewed. In the event that the new recruit is accepted as an official employee, he/she will attend the entrance ceremony held the following April and after completing the new recruit training program for “X” months, the company will decide which department to assign the individual.” As I listened to their superficially polite explanations which are almost on even par to that of bureaucrats, I felt overwhelmed with discouragement

If Japanese companies are in earnest to secure employees who have the attributes to qualify as “globally competent personnel,” they should re-examine what they have taken for granted as normal company regulations and customs which are shared among leading Japanese firms. In fact, they should go further and fundamentally re-examine their presumptuous attitude that the companies have a superior hand of selecting and employing new recruits. Just like respecting the “precious customers” in a highly consumer-oriented society, the companies must pay due respect to individuals who are seeking work at their companies by admitting that the latter, too, have the right to choose. In other words, the aforementioned incident made me feel that it is crucial for Japanese companies to have genuine humility and recognize the fact that the new recruits, after being hired, have every right to abandon the job if they do not find gratification in the workplace.


May 30, 2012


At the invitation of Mr. Yoshito Hori and his wife, I attended a splendid Western style charity dinner accompanying my wife last evening. Although the host of the event was the Tokyo Committee of the “Human Rights Watch,” the venue of the event, the Ascot Hall at Hotel Okura, was overflowing with more than 500 “ladies and gentlemen.” As I stepped into the hall, I was greeted not only by elderly attendees but many of my young friends and acquaintances who spotted me such as Mr. Taizo Son (younger brother of Mr. Masayoshi Son) and Ms. Christel Takigawa (T.V. announcer and news presenter who is one of my son’s friends) came up to me one after the other to say hello and I was able to briefly enjoy conversing with them. The banquet started out with an unexpectedly festive mood.

However, the atmosphere of the banquet suddenly changed when Ms. Sihem Bensedrine, the guest of honor, from Tunisia delivered her speech after being introduced to the podium. With regards to Tunisia, it is now a well known fact throughout the world that a young man committed suicide by setting fire on himself as an act of protest towards the ruthlessness of the police which, as a result, triggered the anti-government movement engulfing the whole nation with sudden velocity and within only 10 days, brought about the collapse of the Ben Ali’s autocratic regime which ruled the country for 23 years. At the same time, this revolt, known as the “Jasmine Revolution,” served as the catalyst to ignite the movement to advocate democracy among other neighboring Middle East nations. What is not widely known until recently, however, is the fact that even during the Ben Ali regime (i.e. before its downfall), there were courageous Tunisians who daringly continued to protest and fight back the regime’s merciless measures which ignored and trampled on the citizens’ human rights in every aspects. One of such person is Ms. Bensedrine.

Ms. Bensedrine, although being a young woman, had to endure every conceivable persecution including imprisonment and assault for many years under the Ben Ali regime. Even under such harsh circumstances, she relentlessly advocated the protection of human rights and in this respect, she is an extraordinarily courageous person for being so invincible. The restrained but resolute speech by a diminutive lady who seems to have accumulated age with grace deeply impressed all the members in attendance. As for myself who have experienced Japan’s prewar military autocracy, a thought kept crossing my mind that the on-going and obvious deterioration of democracy of my motherland which was a given after WWII may again retrogress to “Right Wing Totalitarianism.” While listening to Ms. Bensedrine’s speech, this nightmarish thought continued to haunt me.


May 18, 2012


Since the Meiji Era to present, prestigious universities in Japan have been content to serve as gateways for high-ranking officials of both public and private sectors which constitute the established authorities. However, after WWII, due to the rapid increase in the number of absurd parents who set the educational goal for their children as enrolling in prestigious universities when the latter are still in the early age of being elementary school students, the number of youths with high-minded aspirations has drastically decreased. Although, I chose the profession of university professor which was initially against my will, the ultimate reason why I became deeply involved in founding one university after the other after I turned 60 years old and even accepted to become the first President of these institutions is to voice my strong objection to the current dwarfish educational system in our country which is deplorable as well as intolerable.

A good example of my objections is manifested in the Graduate School of Project Design which opened its door in April of this year. This institution is; (1) smallest in the world with an annual enrollment of 30 students, (2) the campus’ location is the best in Japan in terms of transportation access being only 1 minute walk from the Omotesando Tokyo metro station and (3) the first of its kind in the world as the name suggests - the combination of “project” and “design” which are both not academic terminologies. As for (1), it is based on my long experience as a university professor that education, especially higher education, can be imparted more effectively in small classroom scenarios where professors and students can communicate on a one-on-one basis rather than through lectures in huge classrooms. With regards to (2), I have long harbored distaste towards the unattractiveness of where many of the Japanese university campuses are located in a large metropolitan city like Tokyo. Lastly, (3) came about spontaneously as it is my conviction that “project” and “design” are the fundamental prerequisite in promoting the advancement of human society regardless of countries. In light of this, I have strongly desired that these two subjects should be included as important components of higher education (although I assume that they will not be considered as academic subjects in Japan hereafter).

If you consider all human activities which require considerable financial resource, time and labor for their realizations as “projects,” superior projects, regardless of genre, owe greatly to the excellent “idea” of the individual who played a key role in promoting the project and his/her leadership to steer the initial idea to the “planning” stage where the project can be executed. This is why I give my gut encouragement to the graduate school’s students that, “Better be a head of a dog than the tail of a lion!” (by which I mean that it is better to be the head of a small organization than being an insignificant member of a large organization).


April 24, 2012


Funai Electric Co., Ltd. is one of the venture type companies which flourished like mushrooms in the Japanese industrial sector after World War II. However, it stands out as an unusual company among those who started out at about the same time as it was able to weather the severe fluctuations in the country’s economy, surpass others in the fierce corporate competition race which led the company to be listed in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, retain a prestigious brand name which is recognized both domestically and internationally while the company’s founder is still, in fact, actively engaged in the company’s business activities. The founder, Mr. Tetsuo Funai, was born in 1927, the same year as I, and he is one of my very close friends.

The reason why Funai Electric is esteemed as an outstanding firm owes greatly to the fact that it possesses a capacity for innovative (product and market) development, so original that it has no match, as well as the state-of-the-art mass production technology (which the company learned directly from Toyota Motor and later impressed Toyota) backed up by an unwaveringly solid management policy. All of these attributes are manifestations of Mr. Funai’s distinctive qualifications as a first class business executive. At the same time, I believe that the establishment, activities and results achieved by the Funai Foundation for Information Technology (FFIT) is truly in line with his characteristics.

With an earnest desire to further develop the field of information technology which supported the company’s core business activities, Mr. Funai, as the 21st century dawned, decided to set up FFIT with the aim to offer financial assistance to young scholars who are engaged in a wide range of information technology research as well as to nurture Japanese and foreign students who wish to specialize in this field. In order to get the foundation started, Mr. Funai donated 1 million share of Funai Electric’s stock which he personally owned together with 4 billion yen in cash as the foundation’s permanent property.

Upon Mr. Funai’s solicitation, I have been serving as the director of this foundation since its inception. Among the many NPO organizations which I have been associated with, I do not know any other which excel FFIT with respect to maintaining a stable financial record, responding flexibly to the ever changing economical environment while actively devoted to promoting the original goal which the foundation was established to achieve. As I get in contact with the sayings and doings of Mr. Funai who has been the Chairman of FFIT for the past 10 years, I am constantly reminded of what Peter Drucker, one of my long time friends, once said; “The role played by NPO will grow in the 21st century so a sound management strategy for the NPO will become vital.”


April 13, 2012


Former Chairman of Daido Paper Corporation’s massive illicit borrowings from several subsidiary companies (in order to make up for the losses he incurred at baccarat gambling), the top executive of Olympus Corporation’s “tobashi scheme” (financial fraud where the firm’s loss are hidden by an investment firm by shifting them between portfolios of other firms) to hide the vast losses accumulated over the years which was the result of reckless investment, the President of AIJ Co., Ltd, an investment advisory company’s irresponsible act which ended up in the disappearance of huge corporate pension funds, etc. Since the end of last year, scandals (which can be classified as criminal cases) caused by top corporate executives are emerging and being revealed one after the other. This series of scandals have alerted the public’s concern regarding the transparency of corporate governance as well as to question the the responsibilities of top management.

As both Daio Paper Corporation and Olympus Corporation are listed in the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the public’s criticism has also targeted the legitimacy of the TSE itself. In order to restore confidence in the stock market, President Saito announced that the TSE will review the listing system to reinforce corporate governance. However, I felt unsettled that the content’s focus was solely limited to strengthening the supervisory power of “Independent Directors/Auditors.”

The implementation of “Independent Director/Auditor” was the ace card of TSE’s “Listing System Improvement Action Plan” which was announced at the end of 2009 and defined them as “outside directors or auditors whose interests do not conflict with those of the general shareholders.” In other words, the TSE has admitted to the fact that the interests of in-house directors and auditors have the immense potential to conflict with those of the general shareholders. Furthermore, TSE required that all listed companies must secure more than one Independent Director by March of 2010.

The criteria of “more than one” must have been set under the premise that listed companies would encounter difficulties in securing eligible individuals who fulfill the requirements of becoming “Independent Directors/Auditors.” Whatever the qualifications, auditors, in the first place, do not have the power to exercise any say in the decision making process and even for outside directors, they will not be able to overturn the decision which they are against if it is agreed upon by the majority of in-house executives. In light of this, the advantages of being an in-house executive remain intact and unchanged. Having said this, I would strongly assert that as executives of TSE listed firms, regardless of in-house/independent status, it is imperative that they put their knowledge and responsibilities as specialists of corporate management to good use and implement concrete measures in order to live up to the standard of being listed in the TSE.


April 5, 2012


The Graduate School of Project Design will finally open its door end of this week. The application to found the university was submitted to the Ministry of Education last spring and the official approval to establish the university was granted last fall. This institution will be the fourth university which I have been deeply involved in from its initial conception to final opening and the third time for me to accept the first President’s post.

This graduate school is unique in three aspects: (1) both “project” and “design” which constitute the institution’s name are not academic terminologies. This attribute makes the graduate school the first of its kind not only in Japan but in the world to emphasize research and education in an unprecedented field, (2) the annual enrollment of 30 students makes it an exceptionally small scale site of learning and, (3) the campus’s location in chic Omotesando of Aoyama (one minute walk from the metro station), makes the institution the best in terms of transportation access.

The first group of students enrolling in the graduate school this year vary in age, background, etc. but all of them are highly motivated individuals who are eager to get involved in a project which they can play a vital role in (although the field they intend to specialize in differ such as in business, regional revitalization, event promotion, etc.). At the same time, the faculty members’ age, background, etc. are diverse as those of the students. Unlike the faculty members of other universities and graduate schools, their mission is not to “teach” a subject to students but their responsibilities are to summon their wisdom to, directly and indirectly, cultivate, support and collaborate with each student so that every one of them can achieve what they behold as the “aspiration of my life.”

Fortunately, I have been blessed with numerous opportunities to get acquainted with prominent entrepreneurial business leaders and from them, without exception, I was able to listen to their delightful tales of mistakes and blunders they made during the initial stage of founding their companies. For many teachers who do not harbor their own “aspiration,” the opposite of success is failure. However, I have learned from entrepreneurial business leaders that success and failure are two sides of the same coin (i.e. they share similar attributes) and that the opposite of success is “harboring no aspiration.” With this in mind, throughout the 50 years I have served as a university professor, I have consistently tried to achieve my own aspiration of “university reform.” As I turn 85 years old this year, I am filled a sense of pride and satisfaction with my own age.


March 20, 2012


Last Saturday, as I was reading the “Voice” (声) section (column devoted to posting comments contributed by the readers) of Asahi Newspapers’ morning issue, I came across a comment by Mr. Hideo Suzuki (lawyer, 48 years old) titled “I want to hear what the students have to say about the requirement to sing the Japanese national anthem.” In doing so, I could not help but wholeheartedly lament that Mr. Takaaki Yoshimoto (famous poet, literary critic and philosopher) passed away the day before. It is because I regard him as the most important opinion leader (belonging to my generation) who is capable to comment on issues like this in a manner which I can truly resonate with besides being a critic with a powerful persuasiveness.

The aforementioned article by Mr. Suzuki referred to the graduation ceremony at Izumi Senior High School (in Kishiwada, Osaka Prefecture). During the event, the school was checking whether the teachers were actually singing the Japanese national anthem by carefully watching the movement of their lips. Furthermore, when Mayor Toru Hashimoto of Osaka City (a strong advocate to enforce the prefectural ordinance that requires teachers to stand and sing the national anthem at school events) was briefed about this scrutiny, he praised it as a thorough execution of the public servants’ duty. Mr. Suzuki’s article was in criticism of this surveillance. In conjunction with this, the principal of the senior high school happens to be Mayor Hashimoto’s university friend and was appointed to the post two years ago when Mr. Hashimoto was the Governor of Osaka Prefecture. Mr. Suzuki expressed his deep concern towards the anticipated change in the educational policies which the new principal will implement which will be influenced by retrogression to prewar values in Japan.

According to the profound but complicated literary work by Mr. Yoshimoto, “The Common Illusion,” a nation state’s identity is constituted by the sentiment of oneness which is psychologically shared by the people. In prewar Japan, the Japanese people, regardless of their like or dislike, were united strongly under the “common illusion” of the unquestionable superiority of the emperor system. However, in postwar Japan, although the emperor system survived, the emperor’s “Humanity Declaration” gradually but definitely diluted this “common illusion.” Current Japan, after achieving miraculously rapid economic development, is suffocating from both economic and social stagnation. At an insecure time like this, a solid unification by the people is necessary to overcome the present stalemate. With this backdrop, the ideological divide between the people who advocate retrogression to prewar values (reflected in their respect for the national anthem and the emperor system) and those who are concerned that the retrogression indicates the end of the postwar democracy is growing deeper. Admitting that I may be sounding presumptuous, I hope every one of you will reread the previous issue of my Rapport and take time to seriously contemplate on this issue.


March 14, 2012


Vladimir Putin won the Russian Presidential election on March 4th, the National People’s Congress began in Beijing on March 5th marking the last year of the Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao administration and the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the Super Tuesday primaries on March 6th paving way to the U.S. Presidential election in November. All these are crucial events which have the potential of changing the future global outlook.

However, when we turn our eyes to the political situation in Japan, it remains pathetically immersed as ever in stagnation. The total lack of leadership among the key members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan as well as of the largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party has made both parties dysfunctional that they no longer seem to retain any credible status. As the public loose faith in existing political parties, they inevitably long for a young leader on the rise and this is contributing greatly to the popularity of Mayor Toru Hashimoto of Osaka City who is also the President of the Osaka Restoration Association (as I pointed out in Rapport - 848). If the votes supporting the “Restoration Association” drastically increase during the next general election and the Hashimoto administration comes into existence, it is highly probably that Japan will see the emergence of a legitimate right wing regime, the first one ever after World War II, judging from what Mr. Hashimoto has said and done so far together with the Osaka Restoration Association’s activities. In light of this, now is the time for us to reflect on history and contemplate on how vulnerable “democracy” is.

The imperial rule collapsed in Germany after surrender in World War I and saw the birth of the Weimar Republic where the chief of state was elected by the people under a new constitution. However, the republic encountered serious economic problems such as huge reparation payments, hyperinflation and the global Great Depression. Politically, the republic suffered from the division of minor political parties, the conflicts between the left and the right wing parties and the rise of the national defense forces. These confusions eventually brought down the parliament and the public rapidly lost trust in the republic.

As the Weimar Republic lost momentum, the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler took over the parliament and in a very short time span transformed Germany into a legitimate “totalitarian right wing nation.” Although the Nazi Party only gained 12 votes when it was initially formed, it rapidly increased the number of seats in the parliament and it took only 5 years for Hitler to officially be sworn in as Chancellor. In short, “democracy” can transform to “totalitarianism” with remarkably surprising ease. I wholeheartedly hope that Mr. Toru Hashimoto take this to heart.


February 23, 2012


As I will be turning 85 years old very shortly, I think it is about time for me to realize my long cherished dream of becoming an age shooter while I gradually decrease my public appearance duties. However, in reality, all the offers I receive have their own charms that I keep on consenting to take part in various commitments in spite of my age. Below is one of the typical examples of how I get involved in an engagement.

Last Friday evening, a general assembly meeting of the “Committee to Contemplate on the Future of Japan and East Asia” was held at Tokyo Kaikan. As cold rain was starting to sprinkle, I went to the event thinking to myself that I will just drop by to say hello and leave. However as I arrived at the venue, I was mesmerized by the vibrant atmosphere and I was delighted at spotting so many of my friends and acquaintances so I changed my mind and decided to stay on. Furthermore, Governor Arai of Nara Prefecture, the host of the conference, was seated at the table which was designated as my seat. As I sat down, I immediately started to chat with Mr. Seigo Matsuoka and Mr. Tsuyoshi Sasaki who were seated next to me. I became so immersed with our conversation that I lost track of time and it was already 10:00 pm when I returned home.

I do meet and speak with Mr. Matsuoka once in a while but it was the first time that I sat next to Mr. Sasaki. Although Mr. Sasaki is one of the most distinguished authorities on political science in Japan, I started to deliver my own perspective on the reason behind why the quality of lawmakers has deteriorated. I stated that it boils down to the ‘plurality voting system’ which the current national election assess as a presupposition. Below is a summary of my view which I expounded to Mr. Sasaki.

“With the current ‘plurality voting’ in single-member districts (300 seats), the population is too dense vis-a-vis the size of the district in urban cities while the area is too vast in rural regions where population is sparse. In both cases, the voters are unable to truly perceive the candidates’ personality and insights in details. This inevitably results in the public voting for candidates whose name are well known in certain special circles via the media or those candidates who have a solid backing by existing political parties. It is regretful that these unqualified lawmakers take on center stage positions within Nagatacho (i.e. the equivalent of Washington, D.C. in Japan).”

After Mr. Sasaki agreed to my opinion in principle, he referred to the Edo Era’s feudal system which was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate but allowed autonomy to the regional lords to govern their regions (i.e. decentralization). It is true that the Edo Era, under its isolation policy, flourished and created an exquisite culture and maintained 270 years of uninterrupted peace, an unusually long time span even from a global context. It may be worth our time and effort to reexamine the Edo Era from a “political” view point and learn what we can from the era’s accomplishments.


February 14, 2012


Since the beginning of this year, I have been extremely busy that I would like to coin a proverb which says "An elderly person cannot afford to spend time at leisure." This being the case, I have not kept up in writing “Rapport” on a weekly base. I even regret advising Mr. Son of Softbank in a weekly magazine that “the Chinese character for busy (忙) is constituted by a combination of destroying (亡) ones heart (心).” I am at liberty to decline some of the requests but as my curiosity has remained voracious even at this age together with being blessed with good health, I cannot help myself from accepting offers in excess. Furthermore, all the requests are too precious to decline.

Attending the “Fourth G1 Summit” held last Saturday at Aomoriya in Furumaki Hot Spring is a good example to cite. As this event started out with an aim to create the Japanese version of the Davos Annual Meeting (i.e. The World Economic Forum), the conference is held every winter in a remote place where eminent figures congregate for three days to discuss various issues in a relaxed atmosphere.

As I was invited to this event as a guest, my role was to participate in a panel discussion where I exchange candid views with Mr. Yoshihito Hori (Chairman and CEO of GLOBIS Group) and Mr. Daisuke Iwase (Co-Founder of Lifenet Insurance Company) which was scheduled at the very beginning of the first day’s program lasting for an hour and a half. My wife and my secretaries felt puzzled why I would go all the way to Furumaki Hot Spring in Aomori Prefecture for such an engagement. As for myself, I instantly became extremely interested as soon as I received the request and consented to attend the conference. As a result, I ended up expressing my candid opinions to prominent members representing various fields which opened up lively discussions with them during the daytime. Furthermore, in the evening, I enjoyed conversing with participants with whom I was able to nurture a deep friendship over drinks while relishing the local cuisine becoming oblivious to the passage of time. As the day came to an end, I was asked on the spot to give an impromptu speech and when I received a unanimous applause after I spoke extensively, I could not contain the delightful feeling that after all I made the right choice to attend the conference.

Even the heaven may have been on my side. Despite the weather forecast that the Aomori Prefecture will have a terrible blizzard, it miraculously turned out to be sunny on Friday morning when I arrived at Misawa Airport and Saturday morning when I departed the airport. I cannot agree more to the proverb that states “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”


February 1, 2012


As things stand now, the majority of the Japanese public must be disappointed by the realization that the Democratic Party of Japan, against their expectations, is an incredibly incompetent party. The key lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party are animatedly demanding the early dissolution of the Lower House to reflect the public’s viewpoint but many of the Japanese have not yet forgotten that they, out of disgust and dissatisfaction toward the LDP, supported and cast their ballots in extreme favor of the DPJ which resulted in the latter’s landside victory in the 2009 general election. In light of this, if the LDP is able to secure the same amount of Lower House seats in the next general election as it did in the last one that ended up in defeat, they should be patting themselves on their backs to celebrate their luck.

Taking the above into consideration, the result of the next general election will be the drastic decrease in the number of Lower House seats for the DPJ, about the current level for the LDP while giving momentum to newly formed parties and already existing minor opposition parties to jointly secure a majority presence. In short, it vaguely reminds us of the time when the Hosokawa administration, an eight party coalition government formed by almost all of the LDP opposition parties, was born as a result of the political confusion of the early 90’s. If the current counterpart to the Japan New Party, a newly formed party led by Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa back in 1992, is going to be the “Restoration Association” (a new party where the current Osaka Restoration Association, a regional political party in Osaka Prefecture, has become a national network), the number of seats this new party will likely win may very well exceed those won by the Japan New Party back in 1993 if the next general election is held early down the road. For that matter, earlier the election, the better for the Restoration Association.

However, since it is quite obvious that none of the parties can win the majority of the Lower House seats, a birth of a coalition government is inevitable. Assuming that the LDP wins more seats than any other party, the President of the LDP is unlikely to become the Prime Minister in a coalition government as all the partner party/parties with the exception of the New Komeito Party will oppose to such. On the other hand, if the Prime Minister is appointed from the Restoration Association which is on a tailwind rise, those to oppose by a party decision will only be the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party.

All things considered, the next Prime Minister is very likely to be the party President of the Restoration Association. Regardless of how the Prime Minister is selected, the root of the Restoration Association is the Osaka Restoration Association which was founded by Mr. Toru Hashimoto in 2010 and who is the current President. In light of this, it seems very natural together with a high probability that he will be inaugurated to the Prime Minister’s post. Alas, with the birth of the Hashimoto administration, we must be prepared that it would be impossible to override his despotic political power with public opinion judging from what we have heard and seen him do so far.


January 23, 2012


Novelist, Mr. Shinya Tanaka, is suddenly thrust in the limelight. At the selection committee meeting to announce the winner of this year’s Akutagawa Prize for literature held on January 17th, his novel “Tomogui” (“共喰い” - Cannibalism) took the prize. However, this is not the reason of his sudden fame. The comments he made during the press conference after he received the award caught the public’s attention. As he appeared on stage with an unpleasant look on his face and in a rather disheveled attire, he said, “My novels have been unsuccessful in winning the Akutagawa Prize for the last four previous years where I was one of the candidates so I think it is proper to decline the award this time. However, my decline may cause the petty minded judge to collapse (alluding to Governor Shintaro Ishihara of Tokyo who is one of the prize’s judges) which would bring about chaos to the Tokyo metropolitan government so I will accept it reluctantly for the sake of the people of Tokyo and His Excellency the Governor.”

As I watched the press conference on T.V., I was delighted at heart but also prayed out of concern for the future of Mr. Tanaka. He was brought up in a needy environment as he lost his father at an early age. While his mother single handedly worked to raise him, Mr. Tanaka who is 39 years old did not take on any kind of job including part-time work after graduating from senior high school but devoted all this time in writing novels to this day. His exquisite sensitivity and literary talent were already recognizable as an elementary school student so his novels won numerous prestigious awards in literature such as the “Shincho Shinjin Prize,” “Yasunari Kawabata Literature Prize,” “ Yukio Mishima Prize,” etc. However, I have a feeling that Mr. Tanaka, unlike other ordinary writers, harbors an abysmal hostility and resentment towards the “authority” which these literature awards symbolize at the root of his soul.

Literary awards named after great novelists, publishing companies’ marketing tactics behind literary awards, award selection committee members’ prestige within the literary circle, reporters that swarm to awarding ceremonies, the media reporting these very events - because of these various factors and people involved, the “award” which was something genuinely to “present” to a gifted individual has changed its nature to something a higher ranking entity “bestows” on someone. This transformation in attitude must be unforgivable for those who perceive it as an unjust authoritarian act. In conjunction with this, will the “authority” of the literary circle simply start to waver when someone brave like Mr. Tanaka speaks out loud and shed light to the ongoing absurdity?

My personal interest does not pertain to Mr. Tanaka’s next novel as I am not an avid literature fan but towards the Japanese literary circle’s internal reaction towards the continued ingenuousness of Mr. Tanaka.


January 11, 2012


With politics, economy, society, etc. in disarray, it seems like a new year dawned on us while none of us were able to envision or articulate any firm outlook for the future. The media, as usual, is fueling the anxieties of the public with excessive reports and commentaries on every possible crisis that may befall on us. For those including myself who are not directly involved in governmental affairs, it is essential that we keep our calm and not be unnecessarily disturbed by such commotions orchestrated by the media.

As the way I go about my life has remained unchanged, I intend, for now, to take all necessary and possible measures to counter domestic incidents that I deem have the potential of occurring such as this country’s financial breakdown and devastation by huge earthquakes on a personal level. At the same time, I am staying solely focused on projects which my tips and efforts play a vital role in their successful execution. I am, thus, concentrating and directing all my energies into bringing about fruitful outcomes to such projects and I am spending my days in high spirits as usual.

The most immediate and greatest concern of mine now is the Graduate School of Project Design which will finally open its door this coming April. Although this university will be the fourth one that I have founded and the third one for me to become the founding President, it is my wholehearted hope that this institution, with its three unique features, will serve in infusing a refreshingly new breeze into the Japanese university arena which is in a state of inertia. The three notable features are; (1) excellent location which can be accessed by a one minute walk from both the Aoyama and Omotesando Metro Stations in Tokyo, (2) “smallest scale in Japan,” accommodating only 30 students per year and (3) specializing in “project design” which will be the first of its kind in Japan or to be more accurate in the world.

Since both “project” and “design” are not academic terminologies, the purpose of the graduate school is not to establish a “school” of project design and to impart the knowledge to students. As symbolized by Thomas Edison and Konosuke Matsushita (founder of Panasonic Corp.), many of the prominent enterprises are realized not through specialized knowledge acquired through academic backgrounds but through the profound inspiration of the person who is establishing the enterprise and his/her leadership in realizing what started out as an idea into substantive actuality. Although small, it is my current “aspiration” to nurture unique individuals who will be able to contribute their talents in all walks of life from this university.

copyright(C) Kazuo Noda.  All rights reserved.