Yoshito Hori speaks about leadership lessons with enthusiasm in a suit and tie

Hurrying, I got ready to attend the sessions scheduled for the morning of the final day of the G1 Summit. The dress code for participants was casual throughout this meeting. This was in sharp contrast to the Davos Forum, where suits were de rigueur. The presence of kids here was another major difference.

My children went to a poolside dinner party last night. I heard my five children enjoyed themselves in the wave pool for many hours. My eldest son was relaxing in the duplex with a new friend he had made at the swimming pool. Like their father, the kids appeared to have stayed up late, and were late getting up in the morning. I was also a bit slow to get started on the morning’s activities.

I put on a pair of jeans and wore a black parka over a T-shirt, leaving our duplex in time for a session scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. I had felt chilly while walking from one session venue to another, but I chose to leave my coat in the duplex because taking it off at each venue seemed a hassle. My snow boots were the same black ones I had worn in Davos. Wearing a G1 Summit name card around my neck, I left the duplex.

The sessions on the final day began. First, I attended a session on social welfare titled, “The ‘Third Way’ for Japan: Can Strong Social Security and Economic Growth Coexist?” Motohisa Furukawa, a former deputy chief cabinet secretary who had served in that post until immediately before this G1 Summit, Professor Yoshikazu Kenjo of Keio University, and Japan Science and Technology Agency fellow Yuji Yamamoto were on the panel for this session. Kiyoshi Kurokawa moderated their discussions.

Listening to the session, I kept tweeting panelists’ words that impressed me. (Note: I have slightly revised the following tweets, which I had made at the session, to make them easier for readers to understand.)

Right from the start, one shocking figure followed another: “The primary balance was a deficit of 39 trillion yen in 2009,” said Kenjo. “The deficit corresponded to 15.6% of revenues from consumption tax. The Japanese government is aiming to move the country’s primary balance into the black by 2020. But central governments in other advanced nations are working to achieve a ‘fiscal balance’ surplus, instead of a ‘primary balance’ surplus. In other words, ‘fiscal balance,’ which includes financial expenditures, is the commonsense basis for calculation in other countries.”

“At their Summit in Seoul, G20 countries set a target of achieving a fiscal balance surplus by 2016,” added Kenjo. “Japan is the only G20 member not obliged to pursue this target. Other members judged Japan would not be able to achieve it.”

“The number of children in Japan is going to fall from this point on,” explained Kenjo. “Policy combinations, such as a low burden and a low welfare level and a high burden and a high welfare level, are now out of reach for Japan. A high burden and a middle welfare level or a middle burden and a low welfare level are the only options left for this country. I predict that this situation will emerge in Japan because state finances are in a mess and the declining birthrate and aging of the population are simultaneously underway.”

Yamamoto, a member of Japan’s power elite who graduated from the University of Tokyo’s Medical School and the Harvard Business School, took the microphone next. “I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. I appreciate it a lot,” Yamamoto said. “I once wrote a fan letter to Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who was a professor when I was a student. He kindly answered my request to meet with him. Now, I’m sharing a platform with Prof. Kurokawa, who was someone I really looked up to. Anyway, Prof. Kurokawa told me to go radical this morning.”

“Medical service has come to match investment, instead of cost, in this age,” pointed out Yamamoto, a medical researcher still in his 30s. Young participants in their 30s made this year’s G1 Summit interesting, contributing their opinions actively. People from their 30s to their early 50s comprise the majority of participants in the G1 Summit. However, many leaders who belong to the older generation (such as President Yasuchika Hasegawa of Takeda Pharmaceutical and President Yoshimitsu Kobayashi of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings) also come to this gathering.

“The Swedish government fully enforced a market economy, drove less productive companies into bankruptcy, and promoted companies and industries that were more productive than others. These measures led Sweden to success,” observed Kenjo. “The government drove workers out of jobs and created a safety net for them. Funds in the hands of capitalists became zero. These measures created an extremely competitive society.”

“There are people who say entrepreneurs increase in number when a safety net is provided,” continued Kenjo. “But risk-takers do not think about a safety net in the first place. (To put it another way, a different policy is needed to increase the number of such people.)”

Unable to stay silent any longer, moderator Kurokawa began stating his personal opinion with passion. Watching Kurokawa do that was fun in its own right. Interrupting a questioner, Kurokawa began talking enthusiastically. Panelists and floor participants accepted this, probably because they knew Kurokawa’s personality. Discussions with participants in the floor are another positive aspect of the G1 Summit.

Two other subcommittee sessions were in progress, too. One addressed “Increasing Japan’s Power to Distribute Information” as its theme. The other explored the question, “What Does the ‘Miraculous Power of Leaders’ Words’ Mean?” Hiroshi Tasaka led the latter. Oh dear. Prof. Jiro Kokuryo asked a question from the floor just when I thought I should pay a courtesy visit to these other sessions. What should I do? I felt like staying and reporting on the discussions his question would generate. Let me report on the discussions that followed and the other subcommittee sessions in a separate article I’m planning to contribute to the GLOBIS website.

The G1 Summit received tens of thousands of accesses via Twitter, in addition to the 180 people who took part in the event live. I make every effort to talk to many of those Twitter participants. I do that because we need the power of all people to advance the large-scale reforms that will become inevitable in the future.

The final subcommittee session began. It looked into “Japanese Reforms That Start from the Provinces.” Three prefectural governors currently in the spotlight as young reformists took the platform: Governor Masanao Ozaki of Kochi Prefecture, Governor Yasushi Furukawa of Saga Prefecture, and Governor Hidehiko Yuzaki of Hiroshima Prefecture. Moderator Shinichi Ueyama began by reminding us of the session’s original title.

“Why did you become a governor?” In response to this question, Governor Ozaki said, “There were two reasons. First, the effective ratio of jobs to applicants was 0.42 for my home prefecture of Kochi, while the rate for Japan was above 1.0. I still remember how I felt about that. Second, many people asked me to run when my predecessor Daijiro Hashimoto chose not to seek re-election. I was honored by their requests.”

“Japanese provinces are currently entering a typical process of spiraling contraction,” observed Ozaki. “The effective ratio of jobs to applicants is not rising. The population is continuing to decline and age with a falling birthrate. The economy is downsizing and job openings are disappearing. Elderly people are becoming increasingly isolated. A shift from the public sector to the private sector alone will not solve the problems of the provinces where these phenomena are in evident.”

“Capital does not accumulate in the private sector under these conditions,” pointed out Ozaki. “I would like to turn Kochi Prefecture into a successful case because we have many problems there. I would like to make Kochi a source of food and energy supply. Public-private partnership is the keyword for our initiatives to achieving this goal.”

“When people talk about Japan with no assumptions, they are talking about Tokyo,” argued Furukawa. “When they want to discuss a situation in regional Japan, people set up a special session, as we find here at the G1 Summit. I would like you to bear regional Japan in mind, in addition to Tokyo with its population of 30 million, when you discuss ways for improving Japan.”

“With my election, the governor of Kochi Prefecture changed for the first time in 16 years,” said Ozaki. “A very appealing woman from the prefectural assembly ran against me in the gubernatorial election. So, I expected the election campaign to be fairly close. But the voter turnout was only 33%. Unfortunately, voters had little interest in the race.” Listening to this report, I felt I must encourage all people to go to vote.

Many followers contributed their views to my Twitter site under the “#G1 summit” hash tag while I was making tweets like the one above. I retweeted one of them. (In other words, I made my response visible to people who followed my tweets.)

Follower @dkoba had supplied the tweet I retweeted. The tweet went as follows. “The G1 summit hash tag is interesting. I keep thinking there is no lever for young people but to go to the polls as interested voters if and when they deplore the future on a state level. I’m practicing two approaches myself – going to the polls (reviving Japan) and preparing my children for overseas work through education (leaving Japan).”

One idea came to me in the course of my exchanges with this follower. I decided to tweet it right away.

“The G1 Summit is about to close. I’d like to ask you one question at this point. Please tell me exactly what ‘you expect from the G1 Summit.’ Please refrain from supplying critical comments, such as ‘Nothing,’ because I want to introduce your replies at the closing session if doing so is possible. I ask you to send ‘proposals, instead of criticisms.’”

In other words, my idea was to introduce the followers’ tweets at the closing session for this year’s G1 Summit. I continued with another tweet, saying, “Many governors who attend this meeting have high ambitions. I find them reassuring and inspiring.”

I dropped by a subcommittee session titled, “Depression and Organizational Health: Things Top Organizational Managers Should Know,” next. Shinichiro Tomitaka, a doctor of medicine who works at the Panasonic Health Insurance Organization as the general manager of its Preventive Medicine Division, spoke at this session in response to questions asked by medical doctor Yu Yumoto, who acted as the interviewer. Yumoto organized a session called “Let’s Train Our Inner Muscles” with Hideaki Inoue from 6:30 a.m. that morning. I heard that close to 20 participants attended this morning session. Activities at the G1 Summit start early in the morning and end late at night.

Another session I attended had an incredible panel, too. Commissioner for Cultural Affairs Seiichi Kondo, Editorial Engineering Laboratory Director Seigo Matsuoka and Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art Director Yutaka Mino served as panelists for this session titled, “Cultural Policies of Japan: Succession of Cultural Capital Called Beauty.” House of Councilors member Koji Matsui moderated their panel discussions.

I played the role of the moderator at a plenary session that followed. It was the final session for the G1 Summit 2011. Outstanding people took the platform at this session. Ikujiro Nonaka, Seigo Matsuoka, and Hiroshi Tasaka spoke on the theme of “Things to Pass On to the Next Generation, Things to Change, and Things to Create Anew,” which corresponded with the overall theme for this year’s G1 Summit.

Nonaka, Matsuoka, and Tasaka spoke for 20 minutes each on the platform. Their words traveled through the air, stimulated the brain, and spread intelligence throughout the session venue. I could sense the changes that took place as the three presenters spoke. (I’ll leave the details of their words to a separate report on the GLOBIS website.

Then, I took the platform as moderator. There were just four of us on stage, the three intellectual giants and me, a practitioner. I chose to start a dialogue with the audience after asking the trio just one question. “What do you expect from leaders who will be responsible for change from now on? Please offer your words to them.”

The power of their intelligence overwhelmed everyone in attendance. The G1 Summit program neared its conclusion. All G1 Summit advisory board members came on stage for a closing session. Acting as the master of ceremonies, I moved the session forward.

Jesper Koll, Allen Miner and Robert A. Feldman offered their comments on this year’s G1 Summit from the floor. I found Feldman’s words impressive. He said, “Japan is only asleep now. All we need is a prince to wake up Sleeping Beauty. This conference gave me the conviction that we have such princes in this country.”

Asking for about 10 minutes of time, I communicated the following three points to the audience:

1) The G1 Summit is an event of our own creation. We don’t really have the funds or the manpower needed for an event like this. I ask you all to liven up this gathering with your own power.

2) We opened the G1 Summit to reports on the Twitter and in blogs. Those media allowed tens of thousands of people to share our experiences with us. It was a big step forward. Networking with like-minded people is indispensable for reforms going forward.

3) We need initiatives and actions. Based on this thought, we staged workshops this year. Let’s start actions that better Japan and the world tomorrow, whatever it takes.

After delivering these points, I read out the “expectations for the G1 Summit” I had asked followers of this event to convey to me on Twitter.

□ I expect the G1 Summit to breed an awareness for reforms. I expect ceaseless activities at this meeting to become indispensable for a network of people who lead Japan.

□ I have the following proposals for the G1 Summit. 1) Make its contents available to the extent feasible; 2) Develop a scheme for rewarding people and organizations working hard in the field, such as nonprofit organizations doing their best; 3) Produce policy proposals through the joint work of young ruling and opposition party members.

□ I expect the G1 Summit to organize requirements for a nation as deliverables and submit them to the government, because it assembles intellectuals. I also expect the Summit to give young people with opinions and different views a chance to take part.

□ I expect the G1 Summit to spread knowledge and lead participants to action. In addition, I expect this gathering to educate and train members of the next generation.

□ I’d like to ask G1 Summit participants to communicate what they are thinking and how they are acting, and teach us how we can involve ourselves in actions they are taking.

□ I expect the G1 Summit to send messages and words out from Japan to the rest of the world in a positive way. I think limiting messages and words to Japan is a waste because this meeting offers a full lineup of presenters attracting attention around the world.

All these views expressed on Twitter left a strong impression on me. I think they demonstrated that Twitter is an effective medium of very high quality.

In conclusion, I thanked people who had cooperated at this year’s G1 Summit. After presenters, other participants, Suntory, sponsors and Hoshino Resort, I thanked G1 Summit staff members—in other words, Globis employees—at the end of my acknowledgment. The G1 Summit Secretariat has virtually no fulltime staff member. Globis employees offered their support to this event while doing their regular work.

“No conference of this scale could advance smoothly without their careful and selfless support.” The audience applauded loudly when I said this. With my last message, “Let’s meet at the next year’s G1 Summit again,” I left the platform, went straight to my PC, and tweeted the following:

“The last G1 Summit session ended just now. At the end of this session, I introduced many of the opinions you had expressed to me on the Twitter. I’d like to guide Japan in a positive direction together with tens of thousands or even more of you. I’ll upload my personal thoughts on the event and the like in a summarized form later. Let me take this opportunity to thank all Twitter participants for their contributions.”

I expressed my gratitude to live G1 Summit participants and bid them farewell at a luncheon that followed. Rushing back to our duplex, I packed up our belongings. Then, I went back to the plenary session venue to pick up my PC. Before switching my computer, I made the following tweet to tens of thousands of G1 Summit followers in the cyberspace.

“The sky is clear, as if the snow up to now was all just a myth. The cloudless sky seems to celebrate the future evolution of the G1 Summit. I just saw off many Summit participants. The seven of us are on our way to a family lunch. I plan to return to Tokyo later this afternoon after showing appreciation for G1 Summit staff members who worked hard and thanking Hoshino Resort. Please wait a little while until then.”

Later, I tweeted as follows from my cellular phone during our car ride back to Tokyo.

“I’m traveling back to Tokyo in my car. There’s not a single cloud in the sky. We could see Yatsugatake Mountains and Mt. Fuji from the car. My children and I felt very moved at the beautiful sight of Mt. Fuji.”

February 14, 2011
Yoshito Hori

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