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

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Monday, February 11. It’s the morning of the fourth day of the G1 Summit, an annual event held over a long weekend in February or March. As participants get together until late at night, their energy level is naturally lower on the morning of the final day. Still, once the day starts, issues are discussed vigorously. This is very characteristic of the G1 Summit.

Breakout sessions in Part 9 started as early as 8am. Each session was filled with lively and active debate. Breakout Session 9-A titled “Reform of Universities” was joined by: Ms. Masako Egawa, Executive Vice-president of the University of Tokyo ; Mr. Jiro Kokuryo, Dean of the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University, and Mr. Koji Murata, Dean of the Faculty of Law (and incoming president) of Doshisha University; and moderated by Mr. Ryo Hatoh

“National universities are now being turned into independent administrative entities and expected to incorporate more business perspectives into their administration. But it is not easy because many systems and programs such as HR are still interlocked with governmental ones. We need to overcome many challenges.” (Ms. Egawa the University of Tokyo)

“Established in the 1990s, Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (Keio SFC) has a clear goal: having students develop their ability to survive in any environment they may find themselves in during their life―even losing their job or being assigned to overseas duties. At many older universities established before us, the goals or strategies are not aligned with societal conditions and needs today.” (Mr. Kokuryo Keio University)

“Universities in Japan seem to be suffering from “reform fatigue.” I also believe discussion on universities in and around Tokyo and discussion on other universities should be separated. How to invigorate regional universities is an important issue. The trend of fewer children per family is also affecting local universities. While parents of three children, for example, want their kids to go to local state universities because of financial reasons, parents of one child can afford to let their child attend a university in Tokyo. Universities in local areas must think about how to increase their added value,” said Mr. Murata, Doshisha University.

“Many people are emphasizing the importance of developing globally competitive talents these days. But the Japanese educational system is not responding to such needs. It is very important to provide opportunities to have a wide variety of experiences, other than studying for college entrance exams, available to students during their junior and senior high school years.” (Ms. Egawa, the University of Tokyo)

“The entrance exam of Keio SFC is unique. Assessing applicants using a single yardstick and deciding who should enroll depending on the resulting ranks actually involves high risks for universities. Despite criticisms, we have not given up on the so-called “AO entrance exam” system because we believe diversity yields positive stimuli on campus and we need to maintain a mechanism to foster diversity. That is proven by the many success stories of our alumni.” (Mr. Kokuryo, Keio University)

“The most important element of university reform is staff. Today, skills for generalists and those for specialists are both required. Defining clear career paths to boost their motivation is also important.” (Mr. Murata, Doshisha University)

Breakout Session 9-B titled “Emotional Appeal and Mission of Sports” was joined by swimmer Kosuke Kitajima, hurdler Dai Tamesue, and former baseball player and manager Atsuya Furuta, and was moderated by Mr. Yu Yumoto of JustGiving Japan Foundation.

“Some pitchers shake their heads, ‘No,’ to a signal from the catcher. ‘I want to challenge the powerful batter with a pitch that I am good at.’ You may think this is a great attitude but it is not. If the ball is hit far, the team will be in trouble. The pitcher’s self-satisfaction, ‘I did not budge. I competed with the batter head-on,’ does not do any good here.” (Mr. Furuta)

About second careers for former athletes, Mr. Tamesue said, “An athletes’ mindset is the key. Athletes are often told that they should focus on practice rather than thinking about their life after their athletic career and that they should think about that after retirement. But amateur athletes, who cannot make enough savings during their careers, need to work immediately after retirement.”

Mr. Furuta followed, “The association of professional baseball players held a seminar on post-retirement careers when I was the head of the association. About 700 players were invited and only four attended. The number of media there was 10 times more. But the awareness of players has been changing in recent years.”

Breakout Session 9-C, “Action Statement IV: Politics—Let’s Change Politics.” Mr. Keiichiro Asao of Your Party, Mr. Masaaki Taira of LDP, Mr. Tetsuro Fukuyama of DPJ, and Mr. Kaname Tajima of DPJ joined the discussion. The session was broadcast live online. As a good example of what makes the G1 Summit special, participants engaged in the discussion regardless of their political affiliations to make Japan a better nation. It represents the principles of the leadership meeting: “make proposals rather than merely criticize,” and “take actions, do not just form ideas.”

Breakout Session 9-D, “Japan’s Defense: Territory and Sovereignty.” The panelists were Mr. Itsunori Onodera, minister of defense, Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, president of International University of Japan, and Mr. Akihisa Nagashima, former senior vice minister of defense. The moderator was Mr. Masato Ushio, military commentator. Defense Minister Onodera joined the discussion over the Internet amid rising military tension due to the nuclear test by North Korea and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Onodera. Incidentally, no tweets were posted on this session because, given its timing, the session was held strictly off the record.

Then the last series of breakout sessions took place. Breakout Session 10-A, “Japan’s Diplomacy: the US-Sino Relationship and Japan,” was discussed by Mr. Shin Kawashima, professor of the University of Tokyo, Mr. Glen Fukushima, and Mr. Seiji Maehara, former minister of foreign affairs. The moderator was Mr. Koji Murata, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Doshisha University. Mr. Murata participated in the two consecutive sessions.

“I believe that rethinking Japan’s “three principles” on weapons exports is a low-key yet appreciable step. It will allow Japan to maintain and expand the relationship with the US. Cooperation in defense equipment, such as joint development of weapons, will help Japan become an indispensable partner to the US,” said Mr. Maehara.

“I think President Obama is a believer of the importance of Asia. Maybe his time growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia had some influence on this. It’s important for Japan to take its own initiatives to call on the US to collaborate,” said Mr. Fukushima.

“In the East Asia Pacific region, there have been no international disputes since 1979. Can we maintain this in the future? Is it possible to maintain the US’ military presence in East Asia? They are very important for us.” (Mr. Murata, Doshisha University)

“Japan-US relations cannot be managed well unless Japan makes its own efforts. Such efforts include those on the TPP and on Okinawa. China has been trying hard to weaken the tie between Japan and the US. They do not want to see Japan participate in the TPP. Of course, I am not saying Japan should join the TPP talks because China does not want us to, but we should join that trade partnership for strategic reasons. Japan should participate in the TPP negotiations as soon as possible so as to join the rule-making process together with other countries.” (Mr. Maehara)

“What China would hate is the formation of a perceived coalition against them among Japan, the US and even Australia. China is now going to great lengths, including information warfare, to separate Japan and the US. In response, Japan must take action to reassure the US.” (Mr. Kawashima, the University of Tokyo)

“Partly driven by intense domestic power struggles, China may even try to expand its dispute target from the Senkaku Islands to Okinawa, seeking a greater interest in marine resources. If this ever happens, it will mean a change in their strategy. Once they decide to claim that something is the case, it will be accepted as fact. However hard you try to tell them historical facts, they won’t listen. Indeed, they did not want to take a look at the video of Senkaku in the beginning.” (Mr. Maehara)

“Major issues that China is facing are: (1) the social inequality, (2) maintenance of the Communist Party regime, and (3) societal suspicion of success. There is a conflict between “development-oriented” people who believe economic development and wealth creation should be the top priority and hard-liners who believe distribution of wealth should be prioritized. In a possible scenario of China’s diplomatic strategy, the country may take advantage of its economic strengths in the future.” (Mr. Kawashima, the University of Tokyo)

“What the Obama Administration expects from the Abe Administration include Japan’s economic recovery and the restoration of the US-Japan relationship. They are concerned about possible worsening relationships with other countries. Interest in Asia, particularly in China is increasing among the Obama Administration. Indeed, out of the 10 staffers in Washington, eight are experts on China. I am the only member who is familiar with Japan.” (Mr. Fukushima)

Breakout Session 10-B was themed “Will LCC Bring Wealth to Local Communities? —Deregulation of the Airline Industry and Promotion of Local Economy.” The panelists were Mr. Kazuyuki Iwakata, former Chairman of AirAsia Japan; Mr. Hiroshi Ogushi, member of the House of Representatives; Mr. Suguru Tomizuka, President of Recruit Lifestyle, and Mr. Yoshiharu Hoshino, President of Hoshino Resort. The session was moderated by Mr. Takashi Mitachi, co-head of BCG in Japan.

Breakout Session 10-C, “ Mission of the Media—To Make Japan a Better Country” was discussed by: Mr. Yosuke Kondo, member of the House of Representatives; Mr. Masaru Seo, editor in chief of Gendai Business, Tamon Andrew Niwa, manager and lead producer of BS-TBS, and Mr. Junichi Menzawa, editor of PRESIDENT. The session was moderated by Mr. Waichi Sekiguchi, an editorial writer for the Nikkei.

Comments from the floor included, “They are working under two conflicting principles: commercialism and journalism. Before questioning the quality of journalists, the management capabilities [of media companies] should be questioned.” (Mr. Isshiki of Yoyogigakuen)

Breakout Session 10-D was held on ““Action Statement IV: Social Entrepreneurship—Its Roles and New Challenges.” As discussion leaders, Mr. Kensuke Onishi, Chairman of Civic Force; Daigo Sato, COO of JustGiving Japan Foundation; Ms. Natsuko Shiraki, CEO of HASUNA; and Ms. Kumi Fujisawa, Co-Founder of SophiaBank participated in the session.

Then the final plenary session, “G1 Summit Action Statements” started. The panelists were: [Women’s Empowerment] Ms. Etsuko Okajima, CEO of ProNova; [Ability to Spread Ideas and Messages] Mr. Takaaki Umezawa, partner and managing director, Japan, A.T. Kearney; [Local Public Administration] Mr. Toshihito Kumagai, mayor of Chiba City; [Politics] Mr. Kaname Tajima, member of the House of Representative, and [Social Enterprise] Mr. Daigo Sato, COO of JustGiving Japan Foundation. I also joined the session as the moderator.

[G1 Summit Action Statement: Women’s Empowerment]: Ms. Okajima announced a target that aims to increase women’s representation in the Japanese leadership to 30% by 2016. While participants did not necessarily agree on whether or not the target should be pursued, we will use the number as a rough target and would like to make our best efforts toward it.

[G1 Summit Action Statement: Politics]: Mr. Kaname Tajima said that the current political landscape in Japan―where LDP had the bitter experience of becoming an opposition party, DPJ learned from its own experience about responsibility as the ruling party, and new parties are emerging as the third political power―is offering a great opportunity to change the politics in this country. The Declarations call for: facilitating overseas visits by ministers and other key policymakers, which will serve the true national interest; making the parliament’s session schedule allow politicians to focus more on diplomatic activities and domestic issues; online election campaigning; nonpartisan submission of bills; reducing the disparity of the value of a single vote; and many more.

[G1 Summit Action Statement: Local Public Administration]: Chiba City’s Mayor Kumagai said that heads of local governments usually gather to make proposals to the national government but the G1 Network of Governors and Mayors intends to serve as a change agent that drives many changes in many locations simultaneously by taking action on the ground. The governor of Okayama Prefecture on the floor requested that more corporations introduce a program that allows employees to take a leave of absence to run for election.

[G1 Summit Action Statement: Social Entrepreneurship]: Declarations were announced on:  building a platform for social capitalists, G1 Social Awards, education programs, developing legislation on information disclosure on NPOs, and others.

During the session on Action Statement regarding Japan’s ability to spread ideas, a wide variety of opinions were expressed such as those on hosting the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. Details of the G1 Summit Action Statements will be posted on the website of the G1 Summit in due course.

Ms. Yoko Ishikura, who moderated the plenary session of Third Day, tweeted as follows: “See potential for collaboration, many foods for thought, while watching G1 Summit live TV.”

And finally, the Closing Session. All G1 Summit board members came to the stage and said their closing remarks. It was a very emotional and moving moment.

Mr. Eiji Kamada of GLOBIS posted the following report on the fifth G1 Summit on his blog:

“The G1 Summit has evolved dramatically for the past five years. The diversity and number of participants, the ability to connect participants and raise their awareness and commitment, the practice-oriented approach that urges participants to take specific action―the G1 Summit has evolved itself in so many ways. Participants, who have flexible minds and spirits, have broadened their horizons in this environment, which sometimes requires them to concentrate and other times allows them to relax. It’s an impressive evolution in many ways.

To make Japan a better country, various sectors need to work together. That’s exactly where the G1 Summit comes in: a place for multi-stakeholder dialogues by participants with diversified backgrounds, such as business corporations, startups, national and local politics, bureaucrats, academia, NPOs, culture, and sports. The forum representing diversity enables participants to develop and expand ideas, to think outside the box, and even challenge taboos so that it can generate innovations.

Participants’ age groups have also expanded year by year. And irrespective of age, participants learn from each other. They learn from the younger and learn from the older. It’s a community of mutual learning. I can easily envision that participants of various ages inspired through such a mutual learning process will take action for change.

Taking its step-by-step journey to date, the G1 Summit has been pushing a metaphorical flywheel and has evolved into a powerful, influential community with a lot of vibrancy. Going forward, it will surely continue to evolve.

One of the biggest highlights of the G1 Summit this year is the Action Statements, which embody its key principle of “Take action, do not just form ideas.” Five initiative areas were determined, namely: diversity, Japan’s power of spreading ideas and messages, local public administration, politics, and social entrepreneurship. Making a difference in these areas will make a big difference in Japan. In fact, the five areas are interrelated and constitute a whole. They will inspire, support, collaborate, and follow-up each other to make progress toward making the declarations a reality.

Action will be taken soon to build a mechanism for following up related efforts, maintaining motivations and momentum, and ultimately bringing tangible results.

Through discussions with the involvement of the audience and resulting declarations of actions, and spreading of ideas online (e.g., G1 participants’ making public commitment, inspiring millions of viewers, spreading courage), the participants in the G1 Summit have increased their sense of ownership and commitment. This is the power this community has and a new methodology for changing society.

Watchword by Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai: “People who can create friction are a treasure of society,”
Watchword by Mr. Heizo Takenaka: “Change the landscape of Japan and change the world,” and
Watchword by Mr. Hori: “Each and every one of us should recognize ourselves as a leader. At the same time, let us support one another.”
In the final session, Mr. Hori put together these three phrases and said,
“We should change the landscape of Japan, creating friction from time to time. We will take our own actions individually but we may sometimes feel that we are lonely, especially when striving for change. But we have like-minded friends who support each other. Together, let’s move on and make a difference!”

In the closing session, Mr. Hideaki Inoue shared what Mr. Hori had said over drinks the previous night: “I want to make Japan a better country for the sake of the children. That’s why I commit myself to the G1. If leaders here cannot do this, Japan will not be able to change. This belief makes me feel strongly that nobody else but we must do it. But what an individual can do is limited. That’s why the members here should work together and support each other.”

Many participants must have felt that they could not put it in a better way. Hori’s words in the final session truly resonated with me. Tears almost welled up in my eyes. This is the passion of the guy who created and has led the G1 to the place where it is now.”

The closing session ended. I farewelled each participant during the farewell lunch and got on the bus at around 2:30. The Banetsu Nishi railway line was not running and the local highway was closed because of heavy snow. On the bus, I was relaxed and unwound by chatting with other people on board. Then I took Tohoku Shinkansen from Kooriyama Station. While I was fast asleep, the train arrived at Tokyo Station. I dined out and shared the stories of G1 with my family, and then we went home together.

At home, I kept reading comments on the G1 on the Internet with a sense of great accomplishment and excitement lingering in my heart. It was not easy to fall asleep that night.

February 20, 2013
At my house in Ichiban-cho
Yoshito Hori

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