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December 26, 2014


The nature of my work requires me to cultivate and maintain relationships with various companies in the industrial sector. When looking back on companies that have left an impression on me this year, what comes to mind are Recruit Holdings Co., Ltd. and H.I.S. Co., Ltd. or to be more specific, Hiromasa Ezoe and Hideo Sawada., the founders of the respective firms. I have been nurturing intimate friendships with both men as I knew them since they were still young and unknown individuals who rose from their humble beginnings to achieving huge success by magnifying and diversifying the company they established which are now renowned as leading institutions with distinctive characters in the genre they specialize in.

Already two years have passed since Ezoe-kun collapsed at Tokyo Station and died at the hospital where the ambulance transported him to. Last fall, a project to publish a book to pay homage to the stormy life he led, full of ups and downs, was proposed and his close acquaintances were to write their own piece in retrospect and I, upon request, contributed my manuscript on Ezoe-kun. It was about this time that Recruit Holdings Co. was relisted on the First Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. As forecasted, the market reacted favorably and the company’s market capitalization reached 2 trillion yen. Although Ezoe-kun, the founder, led his later years in misfortune, the executives who succeeded him respected and loyally inherited Ezoe-kun’s precept, “Create your own opportunity and let the opportunity change you” so that the company was able to resurrect itself and fly high gracefully again over the business arena.

As for H.I.S. Co., Ltd. which has become the leader in the travel industry with top annual sales, its historical leap is after 1990 but it was 10 years earlier when Sawada-kun opened a small travel agency in Shinjuku. At the time, I was strongly attracted to enterprising entrepreneurial companies that were cradled and nurtured in Silicon Valley. As I identified with their undertakings, I collaborated with several of my young friends at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (currently the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) to establish the New Business Conference in 1985, the first non-profit organization of entrepreneurs in Japan, and became the first President. With the founding of this organization, founders of entrepreneurial companies rapidly increased around me and Sawada-kun was one of them. In light of this, my acquaintance with him goes back 30 years but what made our friendship decisive was when he decided to take on the rehabilitation of Huis Ten Bosch (theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture that recreates the Netherlands) 5 years ago. Upon Sawada-kun’s solicitation, I have been extending my assistance as the theme park’s Adviser. In doing so, I was able to experience firsthand the amazing energy and efficiency of the entrepreneurial company founder as I observed the whole process of Sawada-kun implementing drastic measures successively to miraculously rehabilitate the bankrupt theme park into an attractive, profit making entertainment venue while retaining its exquisite original identity. Besides deepening our friendship, my respect towards him has also become decisive with this turn of events.


November 14, 2014


If the question, “What is the most crucial problem Japan confronts with urgency?” is posed, the Japanese grown-ups will most probably not be able to come up with an instant answer since too many problems will crowd their minds. If I remarked, “It is the population dynamics issue!” to this, nobody will immediately agree but at the same time, nobody will disagree. This is because most of the people perceive this as a problem that the country must tackle in the future. That illusion in itself is the most serious crisis Japan confronts as it may already be too late, timing wise, to solve the issue.

For the past several decades, Japan has been saddled with the troublesome social phenomenon of low birthrate and the increase of the elderly, especially those who need nursing care. Despite the fact that the leaders of various sectors were aware of the seriousness of the issue, they have been preoccupied in solving immediate problems at hand and have been putting off efforts to implement and execute appropriate measures (reforms in the pension scheme, medical and public nursing care insurances, etc.) to solve the toughest problem facing the country. This neglect is going to cost Japan a tragic outcome.

Since the day Japan became a nation after the Taika Reform (645) to this day, the country’s land size has virtually not changed but the period when the nation experienced rapid increase in population occurred only twice. The first period span over 150 years from the time the Tokugawa Shogunate was established (1603) to the mid-Edo period. The second phase was from the Meiji Restoration (1868) when Japan became a modern nation to the present day whereby both the public and private sectors have tried fruitlessly to overcome the prevalent moral and economic stagnation which is often referred to as the nation’s “second defeat” (which ironically was brought on by the arrogance of Japan after the country achieved miraculous economic growth subsequent to the nation’s “first defeat” which was surrender at WWII). This population growth period also lasts for one and a half centuries.

Japan’s population peaked at 127.84 million in 2004 but by then, several decades had already passed since the country entered a phase of declining birthrate and the percentage of the elderly requiring nursing care had reached 20% of the senior citizens. In short, Japan had been going through a drastic population dynamics shift. The comfort and convenience of daily life provided by the modern era which compare to none in the past combined with the inadequate policies to deal with the graying society (i.e. still abiding by laws and systems formed to serve a society of high birthrate and growing young population) have increased the number of elderly needing nursing care (as well as those needing nursing support) to over 3 million at present and it is predicted with certainty that it will well go beyond an alarming 5 million in 10 years (almost half of Japan’s population if the country’s population keep on declining at the current pace).. Who and how will nursing care be provided in an increasingly aging society? When envisaging Japan’s future with this current reality as a presupposition, is it safe to consider the population dynamics issue as a future problem to confront? Nay, it had to be faced several decades ago when proper measures to remedy the situation would have worked. Since now may be even too late, this neglect must be corrected before the population dynamics shifts further and the scope of the issue becomes too gigantic to handle without causing harm..


November 05, 2014


The above-captioned three nouns are recent hot topics which the country’s media report on a frequent basis. The common factor they share is that there is nothing we can do but observe, yes just observe, how they turn out.

As for the Islamic State, the individual who calls himself the top leader of the radical Islamist group declared that the territory covering northern Syria to eastern Iraq (the region which the fighters gained control of militarily by relying on intensely heavy armed forces over a short span of time) as an independent nation state in June of 2013. As it does not have an official government or a governing law system in place, it will not become a nation state which will apply for membership in the United Nations in the future. However, it is alarmingly surprising that they are financially sound not only by looting from the residents of the regions they seized but acquiring the right to operate oil refineries of the areas they subdued. Furthermore, they are selling various daily necessities and have even expanded to managing financial organizations and are affluent enough to pay considerable amount of allowances to fighters who have flocked from all over the world.

Those who have been infected with the Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in the African nations have reached 15,000 and the number of death is nearing 5,000 patients. Although the infectious force seems to have slowed down, reports that individuals who have been infected with Ebola were confirmed in Canada and the U.S. not only shocked the two countries but the citizens of developed countries (including Japan which quarantined two individuals who were suspected of Ebola but later diagnosed as quasi-infection). The magnified image of the virus does look vicious indeed and its explosion seems to have dashed cold water over the current trend of globalism which has cast great hopes to people of various countries for the last few decades.

Lastly, the “dangerous drugs” in question are not medical products which are sold at drug stores but, as the name explicitly indicates, are psychoactive drugs that are not classified as narcotics. These drugs used to be called “law-evading drugs” but their proliferation, easy accessibility and the damage they cause have called in for more alarm to regulate so they are now referred to by the more notorious name. With the number of people suffering from mental stress on the rise in cities of developed countries, so has the demand for newer drugs which have stronger intoxicating and hallucinogenic effects. By slightly changing the chemical composition and/or substances of the older drugs that are classified as law-evading, development, production and sales of newer drugs are accelerating their pace that the regulations to restrict crimes (especially traffic accidents) caused by them cannot keep up. In Japan, serious offenses caused by people using these drugs are especially conspicuous among young people since the start of this century. What can this phenomenon imply?


October 18, 2014


I will remember tonight as one of the most remarkable evenings as a “Torakichi.” Allow me to briefly explain since I am sure that many of the readers are puzzled by what I mean. “Tora” is short for Hanshin Tigers (tiger in Japanese is tora), one of the oldest professional baseball teams in Japan and “kichi” is short for “kichigaijimita,” meaning maniac so “Torakichi” stands for a fanatic Hanshin Tigers’ fan, a term coined by the Tigers’ fans themselves, in a way, to self-ridicule their frantic infatuation with the team and is not an insulting term used by ordinary people to refer to the fans of the Osaka based team. For your information, a nickname like “Torakichi,” referring to fanatic fans is the one and only of its kind among the 12 professional Japanese baseball teams.

Together with the Yomiuri Giants (based in Tokyo), Hanshin Tigers (based in Osaka) is a prestigious baseball team. When I started to play baseball as a boy back in the old days, the Tigers was enjoying its golden years and although I had no affiliation with the Kansai region (western Japan), I, somehow, became a Torakichi since that time. However, for the past 20 years, the Tigers has been disappointing their fans every year. They have lost many games where the team got off to a good start with the batters swinging an overwhelming number of hits but overturned due to the poor performance of the fielders during the defense innings and vice versa. On the other hand, when the team was having an extremely close game, they would let go at the very, very last moment and loose. It has become customary for frustrated Torakichis to grumble and complain at the fallen fangless Tigers every year around this time.

My father whom I respected deeply as a typical Meiji era man strictly prohibited me to speak ill of somebody behind his/her back as well as to complain. So rather than grumbling, I together with the late Dr. Masataka Kosaka (then, Professor at Kyoto University), another Torakichi who had influence over the Hanshin Baseball Team’s executive members, even tried to convince them to change the team’s name to refresh its image but our endeavors ended up in a swing and miss as the name was deemed time-honored by them.

The Tigers, as usual, got off to a good start this year but after being defeated at the interleague games of the Central and Pacific Leagues (the Tigers and the Giants belong to the Central League), the team, again, as usual became unsteady in their performance and swayed between second and third place until it finally won against the Hiroshima Toyo Carp to pave way to play against its archrival, the Yomiuri Giants, in the Central League’s Climax Series Final Stage (the team which wins 4 games first becomes the winner of the league and will play in the Japan Series). And what a miracle it was! During the regular-season games, the Tigers had 11 wins and 13 losses against the Giants. However, the Tigers won three consecutive games at the Climax Series and tonight, the Tigers won against the Giants with a huge lead of 8 to 4 and after two long decades of disappointments, they qualified to play in the Japan Series. Alas, at last!


September 26, 2014


This morning's newspapers all reported the passing away of Dr. Hirofumi Uzawa (1928 - 2014), an internationally renowned Japanese scholar in economics and professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo. As the date of his death was 18th of this month, his family probably only notified relatives about his passage until it finally reached us all, a week later, through the media. After reading the article, a bizarre letter which I received from him several years ago immediately crossed my mind (which, in a way, was very much like him).

As the letter was so peculiar, I remember saving the note somewhere in my office. With an urge to reread it, I searched but the effort was futile and I failed to locate it. However, I have a vivid recollection of a phrase he wrote which ran along the line of, “As it stands now, I have become very old and every part of my physical body is becoming deranged. I will most probably pass away in the very near future but no one will be notified of my death so please bear this in mind.” The words were written with jest and wit. A year after I received this note, Dr. Uzawa suddenly visited my office in Akasaka saying that he wanted to solicit my advice. But all he did was to have a very casual conversation with me for an hour and when it as over, he abruptly left the office.

After publishing his book, the “Social Cost of Automobiles” (自動車の社会的費用) in 1974 (published by Iwanami Bunko), he was bound by the critical assessment he made in it (The book criticized that although automobiles are a symbol of modern machine civilization, their limitless proliferation is the violation of the fundamental rights of civilians as it causes pollution, traffic accidents, crime and environmental destructions.). When several of us including Dr. Uzawa missed the last train after we drank late into the night in Shinjuku, he, sticking firmly to his assertion, refused to take a taxi ride home disregarding our advice. It was around this time when I spotted an old man, whom I took to be a homeless person, running on the pedestrian walk to my left as I was driving my car in the Hibiya direction. A half balding man with a massive and long beard was in a strange attire of short pants and a half sleeve shirt carrying a knapsack on this back. When I casually glanced as I passed him by, it was unmistakably Dr. Uzawa. Under this circumstance, even I hesitated to call on him. Judging from the knapsack on his back, Dr. Uzawa did not look like he was enjoying a leisurely jog around the imperial palace but, instead, heading for his next destination where ever it may be.

Regardless of ages and countries, eccentric conducts by those who are regarded as “geniuses” abound. In light of this, Dr. Uzawa was a genius in the true sense.


September 12, 2014


President Noriyuki Ito of the Sendai Keizaikai magazine which reprints my Rapport series has been a good friend of mine since my days as the President of Miyagi University. Last week, he sent me Dr. Sakurai’s e-mail magazine, "Doctor Sakurai's Diagnosis of Japan #864” (August 28th issue) titled “Who Should Be Responsible For Raising Children?” Dr. Mitsuru Sakurai, as the prefix indicates, is a medical doctor and is a member of the House of Councilors representing Miyagi Prefecture (being a native of Sendai City).

According to Dr. Sakurai’s article, as a politician with a medical doctor background, he conducted a research by sending out questionnaires which he prepared to daycare centers in Miyagi Prefecture to find out the current status of these facilities as they will play an indispensable role in Japanese society. After analyzing the result of the survey, Dr. Sakurai states that he was taken by surprise as he anticipated that the majority of the respondents will voice shortcomings within the daycare center together with the pending improvement of the working conditions of staff members. However, what the staff members were seriously concerned about was not about the facility or themselves but about the children they were taking care of. The respondents’ agony about the difficulties they confront in raising children was explicitly expressed. Prime Minister Abe is advocating women to play a leading role in the workplace. Dr. Sakurai says that he does not deny women to work outside the home but he is unable to discern what the prime minister has in mind with regard to child raising. Among the questionnaire respondents, there was even a severe comment which mentioned that some mothers are working because they have no desire to raise their own children at home.

In my Rapport #919 (June 22nd issue) titled “Abe-san, What Do You Think?,” I wrote “Raised in a well-to-do family since early childhood and unfortunately not blessed with an offspring in his marriage, I fear that Prime Minister Abe may lack the knowledge of the unpretentious yet significant social role the family plays and how it impacts society.” I strongly feel that child (preferably children) rearing and household chores themselves are demanding workload which requires tremendous time and effort. Abe-san must have had a nanny and several servants when he was growing up which questions his knowledge of what child rearing and taking care of a household entail. Furthermore, being childless in matrimony undermines his experience of these two undertakings. Without full acknowledgement of these, the prime minister should not irresponsibly encourage women to leave their homes although I am fully aware of women’s talents in the workplace and how they can greatly contribute to society as a whole in this manner. In the aforementioned Rapport, I also emphasized the profound significance of the mother’s role in the family and home (as I reminisced about the childhood to boyhood/girlhood years of my four children who have grown to become wholesome adults). In conjunction with this, I am in total accord with Dr. Sakurai’s commentary.


September 8, 2014


From the years of my youth during WWII until to this day, I have been a reader of Asahi Shimbun. During the war, the newspaper, needless-to-say, took every chance to advocate militarism like all other newspapers but after the war, it transformed itself and took the leading role in highly assessing democracy although other papers too changed their stance to enhance this trend. The daily went on to take a leftist inclination and was, at times, sarcastically referred to as the “red, red Asahi (asahi means morning sun in Japanese). Although I was fully aware of these tendencies, I have continued to subscribe and read the Asahi Shimbun on a daily basis (sometimes with a certain amount of skepticism).

Having said the above, I can attest that Asahi’s tone of argument did not have an influence on me. To be more specific, during the time when I felt that Asahi’s press tone drastically changed after the war from admiration of militarism to democracy and that it was rapidly leaning towards the left, I think the newspaper’s stance played a role in sobering me up to formulate my own individual thoughts and way of life which I deemed truly meaningful to myself. However, the two incidents which Asahi Shimbun Company caused recently and in succession were such absurd undertakings that they made me, a long time subscriber and reader, even think twice that maybe I should quit reading the daily altogether.

One of the incidents was for Asahi to refuse publication of a weekly magazine’s advertisement since the latter publicly criticized Asahi’s press tone. Another was Asahi’s refusal to publish one of the commentary articles by popular journalist Mr. Akira Ikegami. The article which was the latest in the column which Mr. Ikegami writes once a month criticized the newspaper’s past articles on the controversial issue of “comfort women.” To Asahi’s dismay, this refusal came to light as it was reported in the media by other newspapers and the company came under severe bashing by the public. This counterattack, inevitably, led Asahi to take on the humiliating act of immediately withdrawing its initial refusal and published Mr. Ikegami’s article at a later date. Asahi Shimbun, regardless of boasting the second largest circulation in Japan, after all, is just a commercial daily so the high ranking executives must have held a closed-door conference with mixed feelings and reached this decision as they judged that the decrease in the number of subscribers will directly hit the company’s profitability. I, at least, have a strong conviction that the aforementioned two incidents will have a far larger negative economic and social impact on the newspaper/publishing company than any of the firm’s executives currently anticipates.


August 30, 2014


Japan's land size is 380 thousand square kilometers and although there are 23 classifications of land categories, forest accounts for an overwhelming 66.4% while rice paddies and farms, i.e. agricultural land, ranks second at 12.5%. In contrast, land for buildings (privately owned) where city dwellers live accounts for a mere 4.5% not to mention that these lands, according to the Real Property Registration Act, is allocated not only for residential homes but for manufacturing plants as well as commercial buildings (excluding schools) together with land for facilities which are necessary to maintain or enable them to function as such. From this, it is conspicuously obvious that as the population of Japan continued to increase during the Meiji, Taisho, prewar Showa, postwar Showa and on to the Heisei era together with the acceleration of urbanization, many of the Japanese were forced to live in a densely populated social environment.

On top of this, the Japanese government, after defeat at WWII, went along with the GHQ's (General Headquarters) policy to democratize Japan and implemented a large scale land reform and enacted the Agricultural Land Act which built an agricultural system with emphasis on rice harvest that excessively protects small scale tenant farmers. The Act established in 1952 contributed to produce rice, the staple food for Japanese, in the amount which was nationally self-sufficient for quite some time after the war's defeat. However, as Japan's rapid economic growth started to pick up momentum, the country’s overly protectionist policies towards domestic farm products which imposed abnormally high tariff rates on imported foreign agricultural produce, especially on rice, became the target of criticism from overseas countries. This protectionism also became the biggest factor to hinder the international competitiveness of Japan's agriculture itself. This induced Japan to be left behind from the world’s current trend to liberalize trade.

The "iron bond" formed by the executives of the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, officers of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and lawmakers of respective political parties who represent the interest of the farmers (and fishermen) enabled the Agricultural Land Act to weather and survive the numerous anti-pressures brought on by the changes in both the domestic and international economic and social environment. But like an unexpected punishment from heaven to this Act with predominant presence, the repeated typhoons and localized torrential rains hit Western to Northern Japan this summer. These extreme meteorological phenomena started out in Kyushu and they made their way to Shikoku, Kinki and the western part of Tohoku areas causing considerable damages and culminated in the residential area located at the mountain foothill in northern Hiroshima City where the torrential downpour caused a massive mudslide unprecedented in Japan.

We must take this catastrophic calamity as a divine revelation which questions the legitimacy of the Agricultural Land Act. We must initiate actions that will fundamentally reform this law which has been totally counter to the era of the time and unjustly continued to pose inconveniences to the lives of Japanese as soon as possible.


August 25, 2014


During this past week, virtually all the newspapers have been covering numerous reports on the catastrophic damages caused by the massive mudslide that wrecked the northern residential area of Hiroshima City. Considering that this year’s unseasonable weather in Japan is part of the abnormal meteorological conditions that have affected the world since last year on a global scale, it is highly probable that mudslides with similar destructive magnitude will occur elsewhere in Japan. With this in mind, I think now is the time to speculate on ways to avert possible future mudslides. In order to do so, it is not sufficient to only improve remedial measures to deal with individual disaster cases but what is really called on for is a comprehensive strategy to solve the problem from the fundamental roots. The best hint lies in the past pictures that were taken of housing damages that were caused by various mudslides.

By looking at them, one realizes that they share a common factor. Hilly forests stand right at the rear of the crushed residences. Back in the old days, these homes did not exist. After World War II, the urbanization of Japan advanced throughout the country in proportion with the country’s dynamic economic growth. This led to the need to build more homes although available land was sparse so land prices continued to soar. Under such circumstances, real estate firms throughout Japan must have embarked on an extensive redevelopment project by receiving permit to build residences within existing urban districts as well as in areas at the foot of the hilly forests with good transportation access. After being sold as residential buildings, the people moved in and became habitants.

There may be some who would think that rather than lands located at the foot of mountains, it is safer to build homes on abandoned farmland that are adjacent to urban districts which are readily and abundantly available. However, according to the Agricultural Land Act which was enacted after the war, it is extremely difficult to change the zoning of the property to “building estate” (in legal term, this does not limit the area to residential district but to property that allows any kind of building to be constructed) once the land is zoned as farmland even if the land has abandoned agricultural cultivation.

One may think that if this is the case, why not revise the Agricultural Land Act? This proposal would be sneered at by those who are knowledgeable about Japanese politics and government. Regarding the Agricultural Land Act, discussions in various sectors have been held in the past and still continue to this day. Although it has undergone partial revision, the stronghold of “Nohonshugi” (農本主義) the belief that agriculture forms the basis of the nation’s economic and social life, is still solidly sound as it stands now. In light of this, it is my belief that devastating mudslides that will continue to recur in Japan themselves will eventually act as a catalyst to promote the sweeping reform of the Agricultural Land Act.


August 15, 2014


Today marks the 69th anniversary of the end of the Pacific War. I personally disdain the expression "end of the war.” Although Japan declared war on the United States and Great Britain and won great victories through surprise military strikes at the beginning, the odds turned against Japan and after 3 years, it was again Japan who finally announced its intent to surrender after repeated air raids which thoroughly demolished not only manufacturing facilities but major cities in the country. Taking these into account, the only words to express the termination of the war is “defeat.”

I was 14 years old at the outbreak so I clearly remember that the war was not based on national consensus but based on the decision of the military authorities who were in a haste to rise and take aggressive action together with the political leaders who resonated with the proposition. The declaration of war was made under the name of the Emperor of Imperial Japan. Eventually, after having exhausted every available means, there was no choice but to surrender unconditionally and the acceptance of defeat came in the form of the imperial edict of the Emperor announcing the “end of war.” Consequently, the victor nations tried the Japanese war criminals at the Tokyo Trial but why did not the Japanese people themselves take an independent initiative to thoroughly investigate the individuals who were heavily responsible for the war?

If the trial of the war criminals were held by the Japanese, would the military and political leaders who were charged with Class A crimes been all judged not guilty? If they were found to be guilty, would they have been enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine? For reason unknown, the Emperor has not paid his homage to the Yasukuni Shrine since then.

As for myself, I have not visited the Yasukuni Shrine ever since wartime. This is because of my bitter experience with a military man. When I entered my junior high school, I was dumbfounded as I first met the commissioned officer attached to the school, a retired lieutenant. While I was disgusted by his arrogance and brutality, my hostility towards this man grew as I thought if such a military personnel was sent to a foreign front, how barbaric and tyrannical would he treat the local people. Furthermore, I thought even if such a man was killed in war by a stray bullet, he may be enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine. Since then, I have had no desire to visit the site. I end by paying my respect to the “honorable” spirits of the war dead, those who are truly worthy of veneration which unfortunately is not true for all dead soldiers enshrined at the Yasukuni Shrine.


August 9, 2014


When asked whom we deem as great fictional detective in novels, the young generation Japanese will associate it with “Conan” while my generation, those who were born before WWII, would think of “Kogoro Akechi.” However from a worldwide renowned perspective, it probably will be C. Auguste Dupin, the first detective to appear in a novel, or Sherlock Holmes. It has been quite some time since I last read a detective story so it came as a pleasant surprise when I recently I received a newly published book titled “The Great Detective Holmes and Doyle” (名探偵ホームズとドイル) written by one of my friends, Mr. Mikio Kawamura.

After joining Mitsubishi Corporation upon university graduation, Mr. Kawamura was assigned to the company’s London Branch when he became a mid-career employee. While there, he joined and became a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London to pursue his intellectual curiosity and he embarked on a thorough research of Holmes and Doyle during his off duty hours. The culmination of his steady efforts took the form of numerous books, articles and essays regarding Holmes and Doyle which he published upon his return to Japan and he immediately made a name for himself in the literary world. As I was deeply impressed with his unique way of life, I solicited him to join Tama University, the institution which I founded and became the first President, when he retired (even while he was working at Mitsubishi Corporation). He consented and I was overjoyed to welcome him to the institution.

During the Obon Holidays which started out with a summer storm, I allocated my time to read his new book. As I read on, sometimes overtaken with a feeling of excitement and finished the book, the genuine friendship between Holmes and Watson left the greatest impression on me. Born to a not well-to-do family, Doyle became a medical practitioner after graduating from a university and started to write detective stories featuring Sherlock Holmes as the main character during his free time to enliven his monotonous daily life. What enabled Holmes, a consulting detective, to solve intricate and complicated cases one after the other was the sincere support extended from his best friend, Dr. Watson, whom he met as a youth in London, hit it off well together and became room mates. They worked as an excellent pair.

What crossed my mind as I was reading the book was the classical success duo of the Japanese industrial sector such as Konosuke Matsushita and Arataro Takahashi (founder of Panasonic and his best supporter), Soichiro Honda (founder of Honda Motor Co. who specialized in engineering and product development) and Takeo Fujisawa (who oversaw the financial and marketing side), etc. The “pair system” advocated by Hideo Itokawa (collaboration of two individuals with different attributes brings about incredible results) seems to be an inviolable rule which is beyond time, country and profession.


July 31. 2014


During the last several days, the newspapers are reporting another brutal murder case which goes beyond ones imagination. It is the killing of a classmate by a 15 year old senior high school girl in Sasebo City. The incident took place at the suspect’s apartment room where she was living alone and the victim, her good friend, was visiting her there. Just before the murder, the two girls were seen together as they shopped at a nearby store. In other words, the suspect did not harbor personal ill feelings towards the victim nor did she suddenly loose her temper. In fact, the suspect is calmly explaining to the police that she wanted to experience what it is to kill a human being. On the other hand, she was cold-blooded as to partially dismember and decapitate the victim.

The senior high school girl suspected of killing her friend lived in an apartment room which belonged to her father. Not long after the girl’s mother died of illness, i.e. not even out of mourning, the father remarried another woman which inevitably led the suspect to live alone all by herself. As a person who has parental authority over the minor girl, the father too has responsibility over the committed crime. On the other hand, the suspect who recently kidnapped and forcefully confined a 5th grade girl in his home in Kurashiki was a lonely man who lived alone for a long time after his divorce. According to reports, he thought that the only way to find an ideal wife was for him to raise one from a young girl. In order to do so, he invested a lot of money to remodel his home to create a room which was totally soundproof, windowless and can be locked from outside which would enable him to secretly rear the abducted girl. Upon completion of this renovation, he kidnapped a girl of his choice to get his plan into orbit.

Regarding the two aforementioned offenses, I firmly believe that the root cause of the suspects committing the crime was not so much due to their mental abnormality but more due to the unfortunate fact that they lost touch with the true essence of a happy family life. By family, I define it is as being constituted by, needless-to-say, a husband and wife and their offspring. Furthermore, at least up to graduating junior high school, the offspring should have a parent (preferably the mother) who can warmly greet them back home so the child (or children) can feel loved and secure. In the evening, the parent and the offspring (as much as possible) should gather around the dining table to relish conversation over dinner. This is what I wish to see in a family. In line with this, I am not convinced with Prime Minister Abe’s argument to utilize women in the workplace as he is childless and may be unaware of the significant role the family plays. As a strong believer that “regardless of country and era, a wholesome family is the foundation of a sound society,” I think not only the politicians but the leaders of various sectors should seriously examine and discuss the issues surrounding the family as a most important national agenda.


July 23, 2014


In conjunction with the special feature essays published in the latest “Chuo Koron” and “Bungei Shunjyu“ monthly magazines regarding the current status of the Japanese universities, I pessimistically wrote in my last Rapport that it is impossible in the foreseeable future for these institutions to become the global cutting edge leader in the field of intellect as long as the current archaic Japanese university’s systems are in place. However, I believe that the Japanese universities have a chance to lead the world, depending on how it is approached, in fields other than intellect which academic knowledge is a part of. Let me cite one of the encouraging examples.

I was deeply impressed by the essay published in the Chuo Koron" magazine aforementioned above which was written by Ms. Keiko Takemiya, a manga artist and the President of Kyoto Seika University, titled “Envisioning the Tomorrow of Japanese Universities by Mastering the Art of Manga.” As the Kyoto Seika University was established by inviting Prof. Seiichi Okamoto (a former professor at Doshisha University who made a name for himself as being an unswervingly committed liberalist) as the first President, the institution is well known for its academic tradition of respecting the autonomy of the individuals and promoting the spirit of independence. Even the appointment of the President is through the election of all the faculty members. With high probability, I think there are no major universities throughout the world that have set up the Faculty of Manga (Department of Manga and Department of Animation) other than this university.

Manga that has evolved in a distinctive style over the years in Japan has captured the hearts of many Japanese fans recently and its popularity is spreading widely within the country. Furthermore, manga is attracting a lot of attention among people in overseas countries due to the rapid popularization of Japanese animation. In other words, it can be said that manga has emerged from the subculture categorization and is making its way to become the main stream in entertainment. Taking the strong conservative trait of the Japanese university arena when compared to those of other countries, it is a record breaking event worthy of special mention in the history of Japanese university’s history that the Kyoto Seika University took the initiative to establish the Faculty of Manga, invited Ms. Keiko Takemiya (who is a university dropout but highly acclaimed as a manga artist) as a professor, promoted her to Dean after 8 years and elected her as the President 5 years later.

Japan’s academic knowledge, especially humanities, was able to maintain its authority domestically only because the field specialized and was confined to the Japanese language. On the other hand, Japanese manga and animation together with art and sport have a high potential of surmounting the world standard as they go beyond language barriers and have universal appeal.


July 15, 2014


The latest issues of both the "Bungei Shunjyu" and the "Chuo Koron" monthly magazines are running a special feature on the problematic issues surrounding Japanese universities. The former magazine devotes 40 pages with the caption “The University Professors who will Survive" (生き残る大学教授) and starts out with a 6 page interview of Dr. Koichi Hamada, the President of the University of Tokyo, titled "Wanted, Professors Willing to Fight" (求む、戦う教授たち). The latter magazine features a written appeal by Dr. Takehiko Kariya, professor at Oxford University (formerly professor at the University of Tokyo), titled “The Japanese Universities will be Left Behind from the World” (日本の大学が世界の落ちこぼれになる). As both professors specialize in humanities (which besides humanities includes social sciences and fine arts in Japan), their perspectives are impregnated with a sense of immediate crisis which are explicitly expressed in the article’s titles.

However, to an individual like me who had to change my major from natural science to humanities just before entering the University of Tokyo since the institution’s Faculty of Aeronautics was closed as Japan was defeated in WWII and inevitably had to experience the unexpectedly low level education in humanities and furthermore led a life as a university professor for half a century, I can fully understand the viewpoints of the aforementioned two professors but totally cannot accept them. I would like to ask both gentlemen whether they are satisfied with the education they received as students as well as with the life they led as a faculty member of Japanese universities.

These days, the educational standard not only in developed countries but in developing countries as well is on the rise. This trend naturally leads these countries to increase the number of universities and graduate schools to play prominent roles as the highest educational institutions. Although the educational content and standard may differ among countries, is it possible for Japanese universities, especially their departments specializing in humanities which were scorned as “recreational parks” in the past and now just as a “place to find employment” to transform and improve themselves?

As far as reading the articles featured in the above mentioned “Chuo Koron” magazine such as “The Degradation of University Professors” (大学教授の下流化) by Yo Takeuchi, “Refined? Tragic? A Candid Story of a University Professor’s Life” (優雅? 悲惨? 大学教授の生活ぶっちゃけ話) by Taizo Sakurada and “Reasons Why Useless Researchers Can Openly Remain in Universities” (役立たたずの研究者が堂々と大学に残れるワケ), a roundtable discussion by university professors on the job who wish to stay anonymous, the current status of the Japanese universities’ education conducted at the humanities departments does not seem as though they have improved much since my days which is nothing but deplorable.

In order to make the dreams of Dr. Hamada and Dr. Kariya come true, establishing and operating a gigantic research and educational institution which is totally different from the present universities in Japan is necessary. However, what is the possibility of making this happen?


July 7, 2014


After the Abe Cabinet passed a resolution that allows Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense by reinterpreting the pacifist Constitution, the anti-protest movements by citizens on the streets have diminished substantially but comments made by various experts who oppose this right continue to be active in the media and on the internet. For me who have witnessed Japan’s tragic historical period which led the country to engage in the Pacific War as a youth, it is a momentary relief that the authorities are not visibly putting pressure on these experts who are voicing their oppositions. I earnestly hope that Prime Minister Abe will continue to refrain from having organizations like the Public Security Bureau of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department or the Public Security Intelligence Agency to keep close watch on these individuals expressing their anti-establishment stance in conjunction with the aforementioned resolution.

Not only am I surprised that the freedom of speech is still perfectly sound in Japan, I am amazed that the executive officers as well as the members of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (army, navy and air forces) are keeping their silence with regards to the Cabinet’s passage of the resolution since they are the very entities who are to risk their lives under it. As there is no report that the JSDF is under strict gag order, Prime Minister Abe’s responsibility increases gravely if this is a sign that all the members are taking the situation very calmly and concentrating their efforts on training so that they can fulfill their duties solemnly in case of a national emergency.

Furthermore, is it only me who felt that the comments made by the executive officials of the former Japanese Defense Agency and commanders who were formerly with the JSDF, in great contrast to Prime Minister Abe who is the Commander-in-chief when a national emergency occurs, sounded extremely composed. What is behind this composure? While those close to the Prime Minister are a group of complete amateurs as far as actual execution of defense is concerned, the commanders of JSDF, a group of professionals in this field, may actually already have a precise perception of what will happen during a decisive moment and what will entail to accomplish their duties. Thus, unlike their amateur counterpart who is panicking with possible suppositions, they may be able to stay unruffled.

The leaders of the Empire of Japan misled the nation to start the Pacific War and caused unprecedented catastrophe to the country. Upon surrender, they were convicted by the Allied Forces at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. But why did not the Japanese people themselves take the decisive initiative to thoroughly investigate and convict the leaders who deceived the nation into war? There is no better time than now to give this some thought as an act of calm self-examination.

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