Day 1 of YES! PROJECT—Getting Together with Bloggers and the LDP

I wasn't in Tokyo the day the YES! PROJECT was launched. Since the day before I had been at our lodge in Karuizawa to pick up my wife and kids.

Our family spends a lot of time up there every summer, and I end up living two lives, one in Tokyo, the other in Karuizawa. When summer's over we all come back to Tokyo, and this was the day we were to come back. It's always a little poignant, since it feels like the end of summer.

I had spent the entire night on the computer on August 24, the day preceding the press release. The YES! PROJECT blog site had gradually gotten off the ground. I could clearly see the blog is nearing completion by the minute. I re-checked all the names of the founding members. I reviewed the copy. I confirmed the links to GREE. I confirmed that the link would take you to the GREE community page. I actually wrote a couple of topics on GREE.

What do you think about Horie (Livedoor president) running for office?
- Should the president of a public company become a politician?
- What do you think about someone running as a candidate in a place that he really has no connection with?

I'd like to hear what everyone thinks about whether you support him or not. :-)

I thought I'd wait and see the responses to this. Then I returned to yesproject.com.Opening the administrator page, I contributed an article.

This article was about "seijikahikaku.com" (Compare Politicians), which had disappeared in a flash.

As I was writing this article, I was having several phone conversations with Mr. Sato, the director of dot-jp, the specified nonprofit corporation. He was the other person helping to put this project together. Eventually, the website steadily came closer and closer to its completed form. I decided to make any other necessary changes after the site was up. The number of people accessing my blog was definitely increasing. I got to bed around 3 am.

I was up at 8, and quickly got ready to leave for the mountains. Before leaving at 10, I replied to all my emails. I had promised to take the kids swimming at around 10:30, so after locking up the house we went to the public pool. I swam with my oldest and second sons, eight and six years old, during my own practice. My two younger boys, 4 and 2 years old, were with me all the time and I tried to teach them how to swim. Whenever I got a moment I trained for the Masters competition, so it was a very busy time at the pool.

There was no time to stop for lunch, so we went through a McDonald's drive-through to eat on the run. I took the Kanetsu Expressway via the Joshinetsu Expressway to return to Tokyo. It was raining hard because of the typhoon, and traffic was awful. I got back home about 4, just in time to get dressed in 10 minutes for the Japan Society's U.S.-Japan Innovators Project session scheduled to begin at 4:30 in Ark Hills.

The executive director of the Japan Society was here in Japan to kick off the U.S.-Japan Innovators Project. I had been selected along with Mr. Hiroshi Tasaka as innovators under the business section. This was a real lucky break, since being chosen meant an all expenses paid trip to the U.S. in October to exchange views with American innovators.

I quickly looked over my email during the break. One message informed me that the YES! PROJECT website had already received over 10,000 hits in three hours. This was incredible. It was probably because CNET and GOO had kindly picked up on the site.

Afterwards, I headed over to the LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) headquarters to attend the LDP Executive, Bloggers and Mail Magazine Social Gathering. CEO Kiyoshi Nishikawa of Netage and CEO Junya Kondo of Hatena had also been invited, and so the three of us sat side by side and waited for the LDP executive to enter. Glancing around the conference room, I saw about 30 bloggers and mail magazine administrators waiting with anticipation.

After a while, Secretary-General Takebe and Assistant Secretary-General Seko entered the room, with the media and cameras following in their wake. The media were allowed to hear only Mr. Takebe's opening remarks, but were then asked to leave. Apparently Deputy Secretary-General Shinzo Abe was unable to make it because of the typhoon, which was disappointing.

After the media left, Assistant Secretary-General Seko explained the policies of the LDP and then opened the discussion to questions. I had my hand up first, and offered a comment. I explained the events leading up to the website, "seijikahikaku.com", being shut down due to the Public Office Election Law, and called for the reform of this law. (Gone in a flash— "seijikahikaku.com")

Mr.Takebe doesn't typically respond to questions with a straight answer. He even admits it himself. He always says, "This may not directly answer your question but…." Just as he says, he didn't answer my question either. Mr. Seko followed up. "There are many in the LDP who share your views on this, and so we will move towards reform with discretion."

The Q&A session went on for an hour, and then we were led into the LDP president's private office. Photos of past presidents decked the walls. Right away I sat in the chair which Prime Minister Koizumi generally occupies, in the very room from which LDP board meetings were often broadcast on TV. I remembered watching them. All the bloggers were scrambling to get a picture of themselves sitting in the president's chair. By chance, cabinet minister Heizo Takenaka appeared. It had been ages since I had last seen him. He seemed to have trimmed down a little and was healthy. All these LDP leaders were in "cool biz" outfits.

Next, we were taken to the president's office, and then I left the LDP headquarters. Mr. Nishikawa, Mr. Kondo and I headed out to have dinner together.

Over Italian food, we shared our thoughts on an article about the YES! PROJECT in the Nikkei Shimbun. A big article about YES had appeared in the evening edition, along with photos, but no mention of my name. The only names mentioned were Mr. Fujita from CyberAgent and Mr. Uno of USEN. It must have seemed strange to bloggers reading the article who were familiar with the background events.

I had come up with the YES name, worked out the structure, sounded out GREE and dot-jp, assembled over 150 founding members, and spent my own money; yet despite all this, my name had not been mentioned. I was a little sad about this. I wanted the Nikkei to tell the facts, just as they were, but for some reason they had not done so. On reflection, perhaps I had been a bit too self-effacing about putting myself out in front.

Mr. Nishikawa had actually mentioned this to me, saying, "You should take on a more active and visible role at the front. Why don't you be the chief founder of the YES! PROJECT to make your position clear, clean and simple?" I was very reluctant to push everyone else aside after having invited them in the first place. I began to think, however, that if there were any chance misunderstanding, I should not hesitate to serve as the chief founder.

I returned home about 10 pm. The kids were all still awake so we played for a while. After they went to bed, I was back on my computer. I checked the YES! PROJECT Website and also YES@GREE. They were both on fire. :-)

Before I knew it, it was midnight.
For the first time in ages in Tokyo, I lied down with the kids to sleep.

August 25, 2005
At home in Sanbancho
Yoshito Hori

Mr. Yoshito Hori established GLOBIS Management School in 1992 and GLOBIS Capital Partners in 1996. In 2003, GLOBIS started its original MBA program which, in 2006, received accreditation from the Japanese Ministry of Education and gained “university” status. GLOBIS started a part-time MBA program in English in 2009 and a full-time MBA program in English in 2012.

A Harvard MBA graduate and former Sumitomo Corporation employee, Mr. Hori founded the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Japan Chapter in 1995 and became the first board member from Asia in charge of Asia Pacific region in 1996. He also served on the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s New Asian Leaders Executive Committee and Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, as well as the Harvard Business School Alumni Board from 2005 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Hori is a board member of the Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and serves as co-chair of WEF’s Global Growth Companies.

In 2008, he launched the G1 Summit – a Japanese version of the WEF’s annual Davos forum. This led to the foundation of G1 Summit Institute in 2013, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

Just days after a huge earthquake struck northeast Japan in March 2011, Mr. Hori launched Project KIBOW to support the rebuilding of the disaster-affected areas. The following year Project KIBOW was incorporated as the KIBOW Foundation, which Mr. Hori serves as Representative Director.

An avid enthusiast of the Japanese game Go since age 40, Mr. Hori has been Director of the Nihon Ki-in (Japan Go Association) since June 2013.

Since October 2013, Mr. Hori has hosted a weekly TV program in Japan called Nippon Mirai Kaigi (Japan Future Conference). He has authored several books including Visionary Leaders who Create and Innovate Societies, Six Dimensions of Life, and My Personal Mission Statement.

Mr. Hori received his BS in Engineering from Kyoto University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

He is an avid swimmer and enjoys spending time with his family, especially his five sons.

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