Dear friends of GLOBIS and KIBOW,
It has been a little while since I wrote my last “Email from Japan” last year. At Davos and at other occasions, I have been constantly told and asked by my friends all around the world that the “Emails from Japan” is informative and that I should continue writing it periodically. As March 11th – an unforgettable date for us Japanese – approaches , I have decided to write to you an update on the past one year.
1. KIBOW – “Rainbow of Hope”
I launched the KIBOW project with a group of like-minded business leaders on 14th March 2011. The name KIBOW derives from “kibou” which means hope in Japanese and “rainbow” in English. KIBOW aims to become a “Rainbow of Hope” connecting people in Tohoku with the rest of the world.
KIBOW was established with the following 3 objectives.
1)To visit devastated areas to bring hope (kibou) to people, becoming a hub of network and supporting the entrepreneurial voluntary initiatives in the regions; 2)To connect with the world by sending “Emails from Japan”; and 3)To collect donations for relief and reconstruction efforts.
With these in mind, we have been touring disaster-hit towns to link different stakeholders together, hoping that this KIBOW project would serve as a platform to turn the tragedy into the opportunities to transform Japan for the better through the bottom-up approach.
Below is the list of events organized by Project KIBOW either individually or jointly with other interested groups.
Mar 25 KIBOW Mito
April 12 KIBOW Iwaki in Fukushima
May 11 KIBOW Sendai
June 22 KIBOW Morioka
June – August KIBOW Leadership Education in Mito, Iwaki, Sendai and Morioka (free of charge)
July 22 KIBOW Hachinohe
Aug 3 KIBOW Fukushima
Sept 28 KIBOW Fukushima2
Oct 26 KIBOW Mito2
Dec 7 KIBOW Iwaki in Fukushima2
Jan 12 KIBOW Ishinomaki
Feb 9 KIBOW Tohno
Mar 11 KIBOW Prayer in Ohtsuchi
Mar 20 KIBOW Yamamoto (forthcoming)
Mar 14 KIBOW Established in Tokyo
Mar 18 KIBOW Osaka
Mar 29 KIBOW Karuizawa
April 8 KIBOW Student Event @Tokyo
April 14 KIBOW x The Economist Joint Charity Conference @Tokyo
April 17 KIBOW Nagoya
May 16 KIBOW Art Project @Tokyo
June 10 KIBOW Mental Health Seminar @Tokyo
June 16 KIBOW Leaders @Tokyo
July 7 Global Indian Friends with KIBOW @Tokyo
Sept 9 KIBOW NPO @Tokyo
Through these events, I met and was inspired by many people across generations who exhibited tremendous public spirit with drive, integrity and commitment to rebuild their local communities.
The KIBOW donation point was open until 11th September 2011, exactly six month after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The total amount of contributions raised was well over US$1 million, and the number of donors (both individuals and organizations) far exceeded one thousand. The money raised is now being handed to selected non-profit organizations and also to local councils in the worst affected areas. 100% of the money will eventually go into reconstruction efforts.
In order to make these KIBOW initiatives more sustainable and permanent, we have converted Project KIBOW into the KIBOW Foundation which was established on 22nd February this year. This will help further develop and strengthen our efforts for the rebuilding of Japan.
2. GLOBIS Sendai Campus – the first MBA program in the Tohoku region.
We have decided to open a new campus in Sendai (the biggest city in Tohoku) this April, which will be our fourth campus after Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. I was amazed that there has been no business school in Tohoku. To reconstruct towns and villages, we need leaders. Leadership education is the key to the long-term recovery of the Tohoku region.
With this firm belief, we have established a special scholarship scheme under which the full amount of the admission fee and 30% of the tuition are waived for any students living in Tohoku. I am quite excited about this initiative. I am seeing more and more entrepreneurial people in the region.
The earthquake and tsunami have really changed the mindset of people in Tohoku.
3. Politics in Japan
Since the Democratic Party came into power in September 2009, we had two unproductive Prime Ministers. The third one Noda, who is the third-youngest Prime Minister in post-war Japanese history, seems to be managing fairly well so far. Noda appointed a relatively young Cabinet with five Ministers still in their forties taking important posts such as Finance, Foreign Affairs, Economy, Trade & Industry, Economy & National Strategy, and Nuclear Energy.
Although the policy on nuclear energy is yet to be determined, the reactors in Fukushima are stable and the life in Japan has come back to normal.
Interestingly, Sendai is booming with reconstruction efforts. More importantly, I can sense a real momentum building up among the younger generation of politicians and business leaders to break away from the status quo and to create a new future for this country. An initiative called the
“G1 Summit”, a Davos-type conference that I have been holding in Japan, is acting as the center of these movements.
As for me, my wife Mizue and our five sons are doing perfectly well. We bought a piece of land right after the Lehman Shock and built a 9-storied apartment building right at the center of Tokyo, very close to the Imperial Palace, and live on the 1st and 2nd floors happily together.
So everyday life in Japan one year after 3/11 is not really bad. I am now writing this email on the plane to Shanghai, where I will give a speech to celebrate the grand opening of GLOBIS China. Then, I will head back to Sendai tomorrow morning via Nagoya, to visit a small town called Ohtsuchi to pray for the victims of the Tsunami on March 11th.
Thank you for all your support given to GLOBIS and KIBOW. See you again in the near future somewhere in the world.
Leader of GLOBIS, KIBOW and G1