A Trojan Horse to Spark Innovation and Globalization (part 3)

Continued from 2 weeks ago, we discuss implementing an effective and wide-reaching scholarship fund for Japanese students. In order to do this, creating an organization that helps coordinate the various requirements becomes a critical necessity.

The third (and last point) is the importance of getting private industry involved.

3. Get private industry involved
A lot of companies “talk the talk” – they complain about their incoming hires not being worldly or knowing English – but they can “walk the walk” by participating in this program. As mentioned before, the program should be funded primarily by private companies. The reason is that this would give businesses a certain amount of “buy-in” – making them active stakeholders in the program and giving them an interest in its success and the success of the participating students. Private companies would also help by defining the types of people they want to hire – namely, people with overseas experience – as well as creating a willing job market for the students who return from overseas. To ease this process a certificate could be created for alumni, so that employers can tell who participated in the “official scholarship program.” This is especially true in this country, since the Japanese love certificates and rankings.

Private companies would also provide crucial feedback on what is globally relevant and what the real world trends and needs will be in the next generation of leaders and creative thinkers.

In the longer term, having a pool of globally oriented, bilingual people can only be an enormous advantage for forward-looking Japanese companies. A global perspective helps companies understand that global “needs” are not the same as domestic “wants,” and knowing this can help ensure that the products Japanese companies send overseas are globally relevant, and meet the needs of global consumers.

Implementing a program that encourages study abroad on a wide scale might uncover a number of problems in the Japanese establishment. But it would go a long way toward helping to renew and reinvigorate Japan and help it shake off the fetters that have been holding it back all these years – allowing this country to regain its natural innovative, competitive spirit and to prosper once more.

Your comments are always welcome.

William Saito
Special Advisor at Cabinet Office (Govt. of Japan)
Named by Nikkei as one of the “100 Most Influential People for Japan,” Saito began software programming at an early age and started his own company in high school. By the time he was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 (by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today), he was recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on encryption, biometric authentication and cyber security.

After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a venture capital firm and consultancy that identifies innovative technologies, develops global talent and helps entrepreneurs become successful. In 2013, Saito was appointed a Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

Similarly, in 2012 he served as a council member on national strategy for the Cabinet-level National Policy Unit, and prior to that, was named as the Chief Technology Officer for the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC). He is a Foundation Board Member at the World Economic Forum (WEF), and has been named by the WEF as both a Young Global Leader and Global Agenda Council member.

Saito also advises several national governments around the globe. In Japan, he has also served as an advisor to METI, MIC, MEXT, MLIT, AIST, IPA and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), among others.

He teaches at multiple universities, serves on several corporate boards, appears as a commentator on national TV and is the author of numerous publications in addition to writing a weekly column for a prominent Japanese business newspaper. His best-selling management book, The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan, was published by Nikkei BP in 2012, his follow-on book, Is Your Thinking up to Global Standards?, was published by Daiwa Shobo in late 2013 and his autobiography, An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur, was published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.

Posted by whsaito

  1. I’m not an innovative person, but I am a proofreader and just finished Chapter 7 of your upcoming book. Fascinating! Such a refreshing change from the financial mumbo jumbo I typically have to read. Best of luck with the book. (Shhhhh…I’m probably not supposed to have any contact with authors. Oh well, I just did.)


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