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

Returning home from the G1 Summit, I felt a little languid because of a lack of sleep. I felt uncomfortable in the stomach, too, because I had consumed a little too much alcohol. But a pleasant sense of emptiness filled my heart in the wake of my release from the extreme tension. In a state of dim consciousness after the feast, I viewed countless tweets that appeared under the “#G1summit” hash tag on my Twitter site. They reminded me of each and every scene at the G1 Summit, the faces of those who took the platform, and thoughts that crossed the minds of people who attended this gathering.

Preparing for the G1 Summit while running my main business demanded an effort that far and away exceeded my expectations. I made preparations for this years’ G1 Summit with a strong desire to make all sessions there better than their counterparts at Davos. The third G1 Summit was a major success, thanks to a large number of people who chose to get involved, including presenters, other participants, board members, sponsors, and Hoshino Resort. I would like thank these many supporters and in a loud voice declare this gathering a success.

I decided to look back on things that the impressed me, and write about them in random order in this column, keeping my head as cool as possible while enjoying the sustained sense of exaltation the event gave me.

1) Listening to speeches and discussions at this year’s G1 Summit sessions on finance, foreign relations, national defense, social welfare, and regional Japan, I realized Japan was in a serious situation, far more than I had previously understood. Yoshiko Sakurai used the word, “120 million irresponsible people,” to describe the present state. I felt strongly Japanese people must take resolute actions from now on.

Kazuhiko Toyama from the Industrial Growth Platform talked about a “test of endurance.” Continuous public statements and actions change current when their supporters exceed 50% of total population. A current always changes its course when leaders make steady arguments and take firm actions. Endurance is necessary, though.

2) In the meantime, I’m ashamed to admit I had only thought of myself as a “next-generation leader” up to this year’s G1 Summit. I strongly felt the need to recognize that G1 Summit participants are already in a position to lead reforms in Japan.

This strong feeling arose in my heart through the course of a dialogue I had with G1 Summit participants in their 20s and 30s. Their earnest wish reminded me strongly the need for us to stand up and take actions now. In fact, some of my friends in politics are already at the center of the Japanese government. Other friends who chose political careers occupy the position of prefectural governors now. The era in which we must take responsibility for Japan’s future has already arrived.

3) I opened the G1 Summit to reports on the Twitter and in blogs, starting from this year. I could feel this step gave tens of thousands of Twitter users a chance to take part in this meeting and exchange their opinions, along with the 180 people who attended the event live. I felt connected with them in the same way as I feel connected to those of you who are reading this column as an email or blog entry now. I introduced the tweets made by some of the followers at the closing session. The sense of empathy many people had expressed made me truly glad.

We insisted on doing things in secrecy so that we could devote the G1 Summit to efforts to build a core G1 community on the first two occasions. From this year, we made the details of this gathering accessible to the public in principle in a bid to expand the community beyond 180 live participants. I’m planning to open certain G1 Summit sessions to reports through Niko Niko Douga and USTREAM video-sharing services next year. My policy is to make the meeting more accessible.

I kept tweeting throughout the G1 Summit term, finding time between my jobs managing programs, welcoming and sending off guests, and paying courtesy visits to all presenters. I could connect with many people through the tweets I had made. I had a gut feeling that my tweets produced a “forum for expressing sympathy” in cyberspace.

4) Further, the G1 Summit was a sharp reminder that Japan has brilliant intellectuals and leaders. Three intellectual giants, namely, Ikujiro Nonaka, Seigo Matsuoka, and Hiroshi Tasaka, impressed me with their wisdom and thoughts. Yoshiko Sakurai shared her soul-stirring words. And political and business leaders among the participants displayed high levels of awareness and knowledge. Those speakers demonstrated a higher quality than their counterparts at Davos.

So why are things not going well in Japan? Things are not going well because the communication needed to generate followers has been impossible for leaders in different fields, in the absence of a place where they can exchange their opinions informally. Things are not going smoothly because a place that Nonaka calls a forum for expressing sympathy has not been established. But things will be alright from this point. There will be no need for worry, because the G1 Summit and direct media, such as Twitter and blogs, will play the role of a forum for expressing empathy.

5) Lastly, I realized Japan has many values that should be cherished, in addition to its brilliant intellectuals and leaders. I kept thinking about “things to pass down, things to change, and things to create anew” as I listened to sessions at this year’s G1 Summit. “Things to pass down and things to change” were easy to imagine. But I could not find “things to create anew.” I couldn’t find such things probably because all the factors needed for the future had been assembled at the meeting already.

On this point, one thought occurred to me suddenly. They may be “things that should be brought back anew,” instead of “things to create anew.” It was a point all three intellectual giants and Yoshiko Sakurai maintained in a consistent manner. To put it in a different way, what we need to bring back are the values Japanese people had.

To borrow Nonaka’s expressions, such things are tacit knowledge, forum development, apprenticeship, and wise consideration. In Matsuoka’s words, they are peace and aggression, and the pity of court nobles and the glory of samurai warriors. Matsuoka called them inclusive power such as the one that caused Shinto and Buddhism to syncretize. Tasaka said such things correspond with an awareness that “to work is the same as to make ends easy” and a “symbiosis with nature.”

These values do not necessarily belong to preserving things for future generations. This is the case because people in this country might have lost those important values along the way.

I think these values are stated in “Representative Japanese”, a book written by Kanzo Uchimura, and the teachings of Wang Yang-ming. We can trace them back to such sources through history. All we need to do is to bring back those values. We don’t need to create them anew. But bringing back things that had been thrown away once isn’t that easy. That’s why we must try to keep in touch with those good values.

Leaders need a philosophy and beliefs to cope with the turbulent times ahead of them. I feel the foundation for such philosophy and beliefs is in fact buried in life stories of great figures from our respective hometowns and the history of Japan. Intellectual giants including Yoshiko Sakurai delivered this same message at the G1 Summit.

Author’s note: I will post all the discussions related to the points made in this column on the GLOBIS websiteto the maximum extent possible. Let’s share an awareness of the issues, think together, and take concerted actions.

I have many things to do as a newly awakened “leader of Japan,” now that the third G1 Summit is over. Come to think of it, I said the following in my opening speech for the G1 Summit.

“I kept thinking about the things I could do from my position in the private sector as Japan entered a downward curve and its presence continued to decline overseas. I kept thinking frantically about it. What I can do is limited. But I should do what I can. Making up my mind, I decided to do the following three things.

“The first thing I decided to do is to achieve success beyond the borders of Japan and increase Japan’s presence with my own achievements. Through repeated efforts and after many errors, I have reached a stage where I can take the platform at the Davos Forum at long last. I turned myself into a person able to speak at a meeting of the highest international level.

“In the same way, the Graduate School of Management, GLOBIS University is aiming to achieve the top position in Asia, not just in Japan. The school’s advertisement with a photo of my face has already appeared in the Financial Times and the Economist. I’m planning to publish my own books in English as my next step. Harvard Business School has looked at our operations in a case study, too.

“People around the world will say ‘Japanese people are great’ if I achieve such success in the same way as our athletes performing well overseas, such as baseball players Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki and footballers Shinji Kagawa and Yuto Nagatomo.

“The second thing I chose to do is to communicate with many people in a way that offers them dreams, courage, and knowledge. I’m tweeting, writing blog entries and books, making frequent speeches, and accepting media coverage from such viewpoint. I want to give dreams, courage, and knowledge to many people who are thinking ‘Japan is hopeless.’ I have continued to engage in this communication up to this point.

“The third thing I decided to do is to host the G1 Summit. People call this gathering a ‘Japanese version of the Davos Forum.’ But the G1 Summit surpasses the Davos Forum in significance because its true goal is to network people who think about bettering Japan and the world. People sharing this sense of purpose gather at the G1 Summit from many fields, discuss a variety of issues, paint visions for Japan, and eventually the whole world, and translate them into action. I decided to organize this G1 Summit to network those individuals and urge them to take that action.”

And so I explained my intentions. What to do next came to my mind when the G1 Summit ended. We should develop a vision for Japan. We should launch the “100 actions” I have talked about before. At the same time, we should spread the passion and courage from the G1 Summit as widely as possible and encourage people to act. To do these things, we need G1 initiatives in various fields, such as medical services, tourism and sports. We must pursue these initiatives in a manner that is as open as possible.

To do this, I must use my own time. I must sacrifice something. I may be destined to do those things because doing them halfway will take me nowhere in the environment that exists in Japan now. We only live once and I’d like to make my whole life fulfilling.

In the days ahead, I think I will push ahead with the G1 Summit activities and then the “100 action” project, while sending out my messages to the world. I will take these actions because I must be aware of my position as a leader in Japan now, not some future Japan. I’m going to speak to as many people as possible with this awareness.

“Champions of reforms,” let’s stand up together and connect with each other. I’m going to read all the tweets that appear under the “#G1summit” hash tag at my Twitter site. I welcome your opinions, proposals, comments, and other feedback with open arms.

The time to translate our ideas into action has arrived at last.
It’s time for us to change the future of Japan with our own initiatives.

I’m going back to bed where my kids are sleeping now. These children will have to pay pension premiums and debts totaling close to 100 million yen each. Let’s leave them a brighter future.

February 15, 2011
Yoshito Hori
Written at my house in Sanbancho based on my own tweets

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