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JUN 22, 2010

A Summit for Leaders of the Next Generation – Part 1

By Yoshito Hori

The Tomamu morning outside my window is a landscape of snow. The morning mist and snow covering the pine trees create a monotone scene reminiscent of the suibokuga paintings of Tohaku Hasegawa’s Shorinzu-byoubu. Discussions on drawing up and sharing a vision on Japan’s recovery begin this afternoon.

I started this “summit” last year. The participants are all my friends of the same generation. The purpose of the meeting is for the next generation of leaders—in various circles such as politics, business, academia, the media, culture, sports and NPOs—to gather and share their visions with others and develop a network to prepare for when this generation will lead Japan. This is effectively the Davos Conference of Japan.

The following is an excerpt from what I wrote in my address for this year.

“I am sure that this summit will eventually produce a prime minister and a Nobel laureate. I am sure that it will continue to produce business owners who would perform as banner-carriers of the business circle, and fellow friends who continue to play significant roles in the fields of science, academia and culture.

“I feel that every generation has responsibility. Our generation bears the responsibility of regenerating Japan, which entered into a phase of gradual decline and faces a host of issues. We must actively discuss the direction in which Japan should head, have a clear vision of its recovery, and move forward one step at a time as we collaborate with one another. We are responsible for leading Japan in the right direction.”

The other day I went to meet former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone on a formal appointment I had requested. I went with some friends of my generation after realizing that I’ve had the opportunity to meet capable leaders at the Davos Conference, but I haven’t met any former leaders of Japan. I needed meet and learn from one.

That was when a notion struck me. It came when the man who assumed the highest power position for five years calmly stated that he had things that he had wanted to do but couldn’t. I made the strong realization that you can’t move this nation with power alone.”

I recognized clearly that to lead Japan in a proper direction, you need the combination of a competent political leader, leaders in each circle who support and guide that person, and public opinion that supports and leads them. The nation obviously must share the same awareness of crisis and understanding on issues and direction in order for these leaders to move the nation.

Twitter forms public opinion (See “Public Opinion is shaped at Twitter), and this summit creates a network of next-generation leaders. Participants naturally include many skillful politicians. What we need is to indicate the direction in which Japan should head. This is the role of our “proposal activity.” I would like to share the details of this concept with you when it actually enters into action.

It’s still minutes before 8 a.m. in Tomamu. Since this summit takes place during the three-day holiday, it allows family members to come along. It’s a family-friendly meeting. Wives and children get to create their own networks. My children have woken up, so I’m going back to being a daddy now.

March 20, 2010
Yoshito Hori Twitter@YoshitoHori