Yoshito Hori, president of GLOBIS University, managing partner of GLOBIS Capital Partners, shares his views from an entrepreneur’s perspective.

I woke up a little after six in the morning, a few minutes before the alarm went off. I was still a little tired but I felt perfectly healthy. After getting up, I answered my emails, checked replies on Twitter, and wrote a comment for NewsPicks. After that I got dressed and headed off to a breakfast meeting. My day started off with this breakfast meeting, which was attended by Hakubun Shimomura, Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). I was one of the hosts for the meeting.

The breakfast meeting, to which Minister Hakubun Shimomura had been invited, was comprised of leaders from financial circles, a gathering that could only be possible at the Davos Conference. Opinions were exchanged on the “Sports and Culture Davos” which is scheduled to be held in autumn 2016. There was a long list of prominent figures who attended, too long to write here.

This included Heizo Takenaka, Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, the next chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), Yorihiko Kojima, chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation, Yoshiaki Fujimori, president and CEO of LIXIL Corporation, Yasuhiro Sato, president and group CEO of Mizuho Financial Group, Eizo Kobayashi, chairman of Itochu Corporation, Masumi Minegishi, president of Recruit Holdings, Hiroaki Nakanishi, CEO of Hitachi, Ltd., Toshiyuki Shiga, vice chairman of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Masashi Muromachi, chairman of Toshiba Corporation, Hideaki Omiya, chairman of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Shuzo Sumi, chairman of Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd., and Chikatomo Hodo, president of Accenture Japan Ltd.

A lot can be achieved with the support of such high-level members. I am grateful for their participation!

After the breakfast meeting, I left the hotel and went to the main venue of the Davos Conference. I finally ran into Ms. Lin Kobayashi on my way to the Japan Outlook session, The New Context for Japan. Here’s a picture of the two of us!

The Japan session of the Davos Conference is about to start. The hall is filled to capacity. There are a number of famous people here which indicates the high level of interest in Japan. This must be one of the effects of Abenomics. On stage were MEXT minister Hakubun Shimomura, Heizo Takenaka, Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of the Keizai Doyukai, and Yorihiko Kojima, chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation, among others.

The Japan session was completely full so I gave up my seat to a non-Japanese delegate. I left the main convention hall and went back to the hotel to participate in an event organized by the Wilson Center, an independent US think tank. On center stage were Tony Blair, Tom Freedman, Shafik Gabr from Egypt, Jane Harman, president and CEO of the Wilson Center, and Ayman Asfari, a Syrian businessman, as well as others.

The theme of the session was what will defeat ISIS. Unfortunately the Chatham House Rules prevent me from disclosing the content of the session. The amazing thing is that what is discussed at the Davos Conference has the power to start moving the world. At the end of the session, I raised my hand and without hesitation asked the following question.

“Two Japanese nationals were taken hostage by ISIS and a US$200 million ransom is being demanded. Japan is beginning to think that it is better not to get involved in the Middle East’s issues. What advice do you have for Prime Minister Abe?” The main gist of the response I received was that “Japan should not negotiate with terrorists or pay ransom money. Japan should maintain a firm stance.”

This is the view from the hotel. The weather is nice today.

The Wall Street Journal ran a huge ad for GLOBIS. World leaders’s eyes are on GLOBIS!!!

After the Wall Street Journal ad, Japan Times also ran an interview piece they did with me. In conjunction with my participation at the Davos, my message went out to world’s top leaders!
Forging better Japan through ‘quiet revolution’

One thing that impresses me about the Davos is wide scale media coverage. This morning there was also a session moderated by NHK’s Hiroko Kuniya. According to Heizo Takenaka, media coverage is more than double that of the G20 summit. But why does the Japanese media hardly reports on the conference? Is it because they are too domestically focused?

Today’s front page article in the Financial Times was exactly what I wrote about in my column yesterday. The headline reads “Davos 2015: Tech giants risk reputation, warn business leaders”. The article warns that leading IT companies are increasingly at risk of the same reputation collapse as the financial sector experienced in recent years.

The Davos Conference is a massive dissemination and communication base. The discussions carried out here travel around the globe at great speed and change people’s awareness and transform politics. Having no presence at this conference means being deprived of a voice in discussions that shape the future of our world.

Amid the absence of Prime Minister Abe, the Japan and GLOBIS team are doing their best at this year’s Davos Conference. Tonight is Japan Night and GLOBIS Night. These two events will be the topic of our next column.

January 22, 2015
Written at Davos
Yoshito Hori

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