Fourth G1 Summit (3): Scenes from the Second Day

(I produced this column based on my own tweets. I made minimum corrections and additions to my tweets, thinking that columns like this should communicate how I felt and what I thought at each point.)

It’s the morning on the second day of the G1 Summit 2012. As in Davos, we can view a snowscape extending outside our windows here. What makes the G1 Summit different from the Davos Forum is that participants here are Japanese leaders discussing a vision and actions for rebuilding Japan entirely in the Japanese language. I began to get a sense that “Japan can improve” as we deepen exchanges with other G1 Summit participants. On this second day, we hope to discuss “how” we can improve Japan.

I learned through conversations I had with other G1 Summit participants yesterday that many people enjoyed the head-to-head debate on nuclear power plants I had with Mr. Masayoshi Son last year. Expressing one’s convictions can at times invite criticism. But nothing results from the fear of criticism. The positive evaluation from my colleagues at the G1 Summit convinced me that now is the time to act based on our beliefs.

I have just received a phone call from Seiji Maehara. He called me to say he was leaving Tokyo from Haneda Airport. Many more people will join us today. As the organizer, I would like to wholeheartedly welcome each and every one of them. The second day of the G1 Summit is about to begin.

The second day of the G1 Summit is underway. I’m sitting in a session on health service right now. Panelists for the session are Hirobumi Kawakita of Kawakita General Hospital, House of Councilors member and medical doctor Toshiharu Furukawa, and Novartis Pharma K. K. CEO Hiroyuki Mitani. Yuji Yamamoto, a young rising star from MinaCare, is moderating. Yamamoto is a medical doctor who graduated from Harvard Business School with an MBA. (Click this link for the session proceedings.)

We are streaming a live broadcast of a session on “Globalizing Japanese manufacturers” using the V-CUBE web conference system. Daisuke Murata, president of Murata Machinery, Ltd., Sakie Akiyama, an entrepreneur who launched an industrial machinery venture, and charismatic analyst Fumiaki Sato sit on this all-star panel moderated by Accenture president Chikatomo Hodo. (Click this link to watch the archived video.)

Four years ago, the G1 Summit began in complete secrecy. The rule at the first G1 Summit was to keep the whole thing secret. We did not even allow participants to whisper about the meeting’s existence. At the second Summit, we kept all discussions secret, but threw everything else open. Then, we made basically all conference contents open at the third Summit. We began broadcasting sessions this year. In this way, we are making this conference increasingly open. The following site offers transcripts and video archives of many discussions that took place at past G1 Summits. (GLOBIS.JP)

I launched this G1 Summit in complete secrecy because I wanted to develop a close-knit community of core conference participants. It’s important to keep noise away when developing a community like this. Opening conference contents is not a problem as long as that core group has been created.

Summit participants are in good form even though they drank until late last night. Virtually all of them attended sessions from the morning. My stomach felt a little queasy. Every now and then the earth rumbles at Hoshino Resort Aomoriya, followed by a shaking. The trembles make us think of earthquakes, but we later understand they come from a railway that runs next to this resort complex.

I’m sitting in a Diet members’ session on the divided Diet (a situation in which the two houses of the Diet have different majority parties) now. Panelists for this session consist of Masaaki Taira from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Kenji Tamura (a.k.a. Tamuken for short) from the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), Naoki Kazama also from the DPJ, and Kenji Nakanishi from Your Party. All are trustworthy individuals and statesmen. The moderator for the panel is political scientist Harukata Takenaka. (Click this link for the session proceedings.)

A compulsory workshop for all participants titled “Initiatives for Bettering Japan from the G1 Summit: 100 Actions to Change Japan” comprises the second part of this second day. Everyone seems eager to discuss this topic by now.

Sessions at the G1 Summit become interesting when discussions involve participants on the floor. Discussions heat up when that happens, because floor participants are top-level people themselves who can add their own unique perspectives. I’ve decided to encourage our panelists to interact with floor participants earlier in the discussions at the next G1 Summit.

Junko Mihara walked past me just now. I’ve known her for many years. She hasn’t changed a bit. Still is the same, beautiful Junko Mihara.

Many more participants, including Maehara, Jiro Kokuryo, Takeshi Natsuno, and Heizo Takenaka, are arriving at this G1 Summit in Aomori now. Participants are currently attending workshops in 10 small groups. We set up these sessions to ask leading figures in each field to discuss what Japan needs now and to launch as many concrete initiatives as possible for bettering this country.

The workshop groups will have three minutes to present their respective ideas after 50 minutes of group-level discussions. I’m looking forward to the initiatives that will come out of these small-group discussions.

Minister Goshi Hosono arrived. He approved of our plan to make his session on nuclear power plants open and offer a streaming broadcast. This time we chose to focus on a roadmap for restarting nuclear power plants and returning evacuees because the pros and cons of nuclear power plants had already been discussed at the G1 Global Conference.

The opening ceremony for the G1 Summit began at 1 p.m. with Governor Shingo Mimura of Aomori Prefecture making welcome remarks. Following the practice at the Davos Forum, we scheduled the opening ceremony to coincide with the assembly of all conference participants.

After the opening ceremony, a plenary session took place from 1:15 p.m. with DPJ’s Maehara and LDP’s Shigeru Ishiba as panelists and Takenaka as the moderator. I’ve chosen to make this entire session off the record, banning reports on Twitter or any other media. I hope the two panelists will show their true colors and have constructive discussions beyond party lines.

With the opening ceremony over, the keynote panel began. I’m not going to write about discussions at this plenary session because I’ve chosen to keep it completely off the record. I expect the panelists to offer us insights to improve Japan through their talks.

The exciting session by Maehara, Ishiba, and Takenaka ended just now. It was extremely interesting. Another plenary session on the economy followed. Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Motohisa Furukawa, Chairman Yasuchika Hasegawa of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives, and Chairman Masahiro Sakane of Komatsu Ltd. sat on the panel for this second plenary session. Takashi Mitachi from the Boston Consulting Group moderated their discussions. It was another all-star session.

The breakout sessions are underway now. I’m sitting on one of them devoted to examine the roadmap for restarting nuclear power plants and returning evacuees. Minister Hosono, Iitate Village Mayor Norio Kanno, and Kawauchi Village Mayor Yuko Endo are on the panel for this session. Kaname Tajima, a House of Representatives member who stayed in Fukushima Prefecture as a parliamentary minister of economy, trade and industry in residence, is serving as moderator.

Issues surrounding nuclear power plants are extremely important. Opinions on these issues vary among the G1 Summit participants as among the general population. I found people at the heart of the controversy and advocates of both positions, such as Taro Kono, Hiroshi Tasaka, Governor Yasushi Furukawa of Saga Prefecture, Nobuo Gohara and Akihiro Sawa, attending the session. I think it is best to discuss difficult problems like this in an open manner. (Click this link to watch the archived video.)

In a room next door, a session titled “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): Pursuing Parallel Aims of Industrial Reform and Agricultural Reform” is underway. The moderator for this session is Heizo Takenaka. Panelists are Hirokazu Kiuchi from the Wagoen Incorporated Agricultural Cooperative, Yosuke Kondo from the DPJ, Yoshimasa Hayashi from the LDP, and Masahiro Hayafuji from the World Trade Organization (WTO). (Click this link for the session proceedings.)

I’m at a breakout session on “Japan’s Environmental Strategies after COP17.” Minister Hosono, Komatsu Chairman Sakane, Akihiro Sawa, and Hiroyuki Tezuka from JFE Steel Corporation comprise the panel for this session, which is moderated by Kumi Fujisawa. All of these people took part in COP17 in Durban, South Africa last year.

In the evening, Summit participants attended night sessions from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. after enjoying folk songs and dancing from the Tohoku region at a restaurant on the premise called Michinoku Matsuriya. At the G1 Summit, power elites gain knowledge, mingle with each other, and raise their awareness from 8 in the morning until late at night. After the night sessions, they took a bath and then attended a post-session party. I ended up drinking with them until 3:30 in the morning.


February 2012
Yoshito Hori
Written on the basis of my own tweets

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