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 in elementary school and started his own company while still in high school and was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998 (by Ernst & Young, NASDAQ and USA Today). As one of the world’s leading authorities on cybersecurity.

After selling his business to Microsoft, he moved to Tokyo in 2005 and founded InTecur, a venture capital firm. In 2011, he served as the Chief Technology Officer of the National Diet’s (Parliament) Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. Later that year, he was named as both a Young Global Leader and Global Agenda Council member for World Economic Forum (WEF) and subsequently been named to its Foundation Board. In 2012, Saito was appointed to a council on national strategy and policy that reported directly to the Prime Minister of Japan.

Saito also advises several national governments around the globe. In Japan, he has served as an advisor to Japanese ministries; the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST); the Information Technology Promotion Agency (IPAS); the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, among others. He is currently the Special Advisor to the Ministry of Economic Trade and Industry (METI) and the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

He went to medical school at UCLA and Harvard Kennedy School; serves on various boards of Global 2000 companies; frequently appears as a commentator on TV and is the author of seven books in addition to writing several weekly newspaper columns. His management book, The Team: Solving the Biggest Problem in Japan, was published by Nikkei BP and became a best-seller in 2012. In 2016, Saito received the Medal of Honor from the Government of Japan for his work in the field of education.

Posted by whsaito

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