The Cabinet's Special Adviser, Former President of the Science
Council of Japan
Okinawa, Reuters, and Interaction with Canada
As I wrote from Washington, DC, and back to Japan on 10th. On the 11th, I went to work in the morning and in the afternoon I left for Okinawa. In the evening, I had dinner with Hirokazu Nakaima, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture. On the 12th, I visited the new Graduate University of Science and Technology. Hakuun sou, an old building in Onna village, is in the area where the university is planning to be built. The Hakuun-so building has been renovated and has become quite beautiful. I hope this building with additional facilities on this site will become a showcase of the university. Within this calendar year, construction of research institutes will start. In constructing such buildings, we need to consider environmental impact assessments and civil engineering work of the land.
I also visited the transitional research laboratories and had lunch with some scientists. As I reported in the last colunm, "Jenelia Farm" in Washington DC, would well serve as a good model for this university. Design of the new University buildings will be great too. I am really looking forward to seeing them.
In the afternoon of that day, I gave a lecture for senior staff of Okinawa prefecture. I spoke about how Okinawa should use its strength. Although geological and historical problems exist, Okinawa can take advantage of the special information-communication and financial business zones, while working to create more. Okinawa can also use an international personal network by using ICT (I think largest number of immigrants to the United States and elsewhere are from Okinawa and Hiroshima). The Graduate University of Science and Technology will play an important role in developing human resources for the future of the world. Okinawa has produced world-class golf players. Developing and producing world-class human resources who can make the future in a mid to long-term prospective is important. In addition Okinawa is a popular clinical training place. I have introduced in this website that Okinawa is really popular for the young doctors and produces many great doctors. (Refer to Speeches：2001/07/01 and "Challenge to Japanese medical culture".)
Furthermore, Okinawa has the advantage of tourism resources, such as an exotic atmosphere of the tropical islands, beaches, and scuba diving spots in Kerama Islands. The annual income from tourism is 400 billion yen or almost 3.5 billion US dollars. About five-million Japanese tourists visit Okinawa in a year but only 150 thousand from overseas. Direct flights to Okinawa airport are from Manila, Taipei, Seoul, and Beijing. I heard these flights are only once a day, so I suggested advertising in the north and inland China such as Shenyang, Dalian, Beijing, Nanjing, Xian which have opposite climates from Okinawa, which will be very attractive to come throughout the year. I also recommended having two to three direct flights (even chartered at least initially) in a week to those Asian cities. I think they can start with two to three charter flights in a week. The tour in warm Okinawa will be attractive for Chinese people especially in fall and cold winter. I suggest thinking about what kind of tourists Okinawa will attract. What do you think?
January 13th was Saturday, but I had an interview with Ms. Waki from London, a Reuters journalist whom I met last year at the Davos conference. We had a nice chat about what kind of people can acquire an international way of thinking even subconsciously.
In the afternoon of 13th, I met Dr. Barbara Sherwood Lollar of University of Toronto. Her research discipline is geochemistry, but we had a great talk. She came to Japan as a part of "Japan-Canada Woman Scientists Exchange Program," which the Science Council of Japan and Canadian Academy started three years ago. The purpose of this program is to have seminars in high schools in each host country. (However, when Japanese scientists go to Canada, seminars can be with elementary school students because of little language barrier.) Although the visits lasted for only for one week, everyone had a great time. I heard the workshops went very well because she received great feedback and many questions from the students. I also met Dr. Kato of Ochanomizu University who visited Canada last year in the program. You can read reports by Dr. Kato and Dr. Honma on the efforts of Canadian Universities' science education. (Japan-Canada Woman Scientists Exchange Program), who visited Canada last year. You might notice that there is something wrong with Japan's science education for students.
In an era of globalization, I want people to go, see, and feel the world from their earlier years. I want to increase those opportunities. In the future all the world is for the young people. Please refer to the column last year (07/21/2006, 11/27/2007). This is what I think is most important to put into practice.
On January 16th the "Innovation 25" committee meeting was held. On the 17th, I will leave for Geneva for the WHO HQ.