I wasn’t in Tokyo the day the YES! PROJECT was launched. I was at our lodge in Karuizawa with my wife and kids. Our family spends a lot of time up there every summer, and I end up living two lives: one in Tokyo, the other in Karuizawa. I had spent the entire night on the computer on August 24, the day preceding the press release. The YES! PROJECT blog had gradually gotten off the ground, I could clearly see things coming together. I rechecked all the names of the founding members, reviewed the copy, and confirmed the links to GREE.
I wrote a bit on GREE, as well:
What do you think about Horie (Livedoor president) running for office?
– Should the president of a public company become a politician?
– What do you think about someone running as a candidate in a place that he really has no connection with?
I’d like to hear what everyone thinks, whether you support him or not.
While I waited for responses, I returned to the YES! PROJECT page and posted an article about seijikahikaku.com, a site to compare Politicians which had disappeared in a flash. As I was writing this article, I had several phone conversations with Mr. Sato, the director of dot-jp, the specified nonprofit corporation. He was the other person helping to put this project together.
Eventually, I decided to leave any other necessary changes for after the site was up. Visits to my blog were definitely increasing. I got to bed around 3 am and was up just a few hours later, at 8.
Before leaving for the mountains at 10, I replied to all my emails. I had promised to take the kids swimming around 10:30, so after locking up the house we went to the public pool. There was no time to stop for lunch, so we went through a McDonald’s drive-through before getting on the Kanetsu Expressway via the Joshinetsu Expressway to return to Tokyo. It was raining hard because of an incoming typhoon, and traffic was awful. I got back home about 4, barely enough time to get changed and head out agian for the Japan Society’s U.S.-Japan Innovators Project session scheduled to begin at 4:30 in Ark Hills.
The executive director of the Japan Society was here in Japan to kick off the U.S.-Japan Innovators Project. I had been selected, along with Mr. Hiroshi Tasaka, as an innovator under the business section. This was very exciting, since being chosen meant an all-expenses-paid trip to the U.S. in October to exchange views with American innovators.
I quickly looked over my email during the break. One message informed me that the YES! PROJECT website had already received over 10,000 hits in three hours. This was incredible. It was probably because CNET and GOO had kindly picked up on the site.
Afterwards, I headed over to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters to attend the LDP Executive, Bloggers and Mail Magazine Social Gathering. CEO Kiyoshi Nishikawa of Netage and CEO Junya Kondo of Hatena had also been invited, and so the three of us sat side by side and waited for the LDP executive to enter. Glancing around the conference room, I saw about 30 bloggers and mail magazine administrators waiting with anticipation.
After a while, Secretary-General Takebe and Assistant Secretary-General Seko entered the room with the media and cameras following in their wake. The media were allowed to hear only Mr. Takebe’s opening remarks, and were then asked to leave. Deputy Secretary-General Shinzo Abe was unable to make it because of the typhoon, which was disappointing.
After the media left, Assistant Secretary-General Seko explained the policies of the LDP and then opened the discussion to questions. I had my hand up first and offered a comment about the events leading up to seijikahikaku.com being shut down due to the Public Office Election Law. I then called for the reform of this law.
Mr.Takebe doesn’t typically respond to questions with a straight answer―something he admits himself. He always says, “This may not directly answer your question but….” This time, too, he didn’t have an answer, so Mr. Seko followed up: “There are many in the LDP who share your views on this, and so we will move towards reform with discretion.”
The Q&A session went on for an hour, and then we were led into the LDP president’s private office. Photos of past presidents decked the walls. I sat in Prime Minister Koizumi’s chair, in the very room from which LDP board meetings were often broadcast on TV. I remembered watching them. All the bloggers were scrambling to get a picture of themselves sitting in the president’s chair. By chance, cabinet minister Heizo Takenaka appeared. It had been ages since I had last seen him, but he was looking trim and healthy. All the LDP leaders were in casual Cool Biz office wear.
The last stop was the president’s office, and then we were shown out of the LDP headquarters. Mr. Nishikawa, Mr. Kondo, and I headed out to have dinner together.
Over Italian food, we shared our thoughts on an article about the YES! PROJECT in the Nikkei Shimbun. A big article about YES had appeared in the evening edition, along with photos, but no mention of my name. The only names mentioned were Mr. Fujita from CyberAgent and Mr. Uno of USEN. It must have seemed strange to bloggers reading the article who were familiar with my role in setting up the project. I had come up with the YES name, worked out the structure, sounded out GREE and dot-jp, assembled over 150 founding members, and spent my own money on getting everything started. I was a little disappointed that I’d been overlooked.
Mr. Nishikawa actually mentioned this, suggesting I take on a more active and visible role at the front. He said I should make myself the chief founder of the YES! PROJECT so that my position was clear, clean, and simple. I was reluctant to push everyone else aside after having invited them to join me in the project, but began to think I should consider this advice.
I returned home about 10 pm and opened my computer. The YES! PROJECT website and YES@GREE were still on fire.