The Bellwether Series 2012: Japan

I was asked by the Economist Group as a guest delegate to an Economist Conference held at the Hotel Okura in Tokyo on May 16, 2012. I always enjoy the Economist magazine but their conferences (which I participate in from time-to-time) are put together very well.

Anyway, I thought I ‘d blog about some points I found interesting during the conference. Obviously, to those who know me, I talk about many of these topics on a continual basis.

  • Interesting answer to when JGB holdings becomes a problem (“clear and present danger”) is when the Japanese economy actually recovers. Interesting/good point since the capital requirements of a growing economy would increase interest rates. (Ken Takamiya, Nomura Securities)
  • ‘X-day’ would come in about 5 years. While it won’t be as severe as Greece, it will come. But the bigger problem is political deadlock in not being able to do anything. (Toshihiro Ihori, Tokyo University)
  • The ratio of national civil servants = 90:1 in France (highest), 30:1 in Japan = low. Interesting point. (Dan Slater, Economist)
  • Not a single hand raised in terms of the audience feeling that ‘X-day’ would occur in the next few years.
  • As a growth strategy, Japan should lead to create a platform to increase economic benefit within Asia. Government should help banks and industry to expand into the growing Asian market. We also need to change the ‘mindset’ in regards to entrepreneurship and how failure is interpreted. In a recent visit to the US, Furukawa heard that people tend to get follow-on investments if they failed a few times because of the experience they gained and that they have a higher probability of succeeding the next time. [sounds familiar -ws] (Motohisa Furukawa, GoJ)

(To be updated)

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

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