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MAR 4, 2013

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013: Part 7, Return Trip from Davos

By Yoshito Hori

I am now due to leave Davos. What method of transport shall I take? The past two years I chartered a helicopter. It was wonderful to look down at the Alps capped with snow from right above the mountains. They reminded me of the opening scene of The Sound of Music. Before that, I took the train and enjoyed the beautiful scenery from the window. It was like watching a TV program titled See the World by Train. I have never traveled to or from Davos by bus, though.

After contemplating it for a long time, I finally decided to take a train from Davos to Zurich. Although I have to change trains twice, and endure the cold weather each time, I think it is worthwhile to get a view of the landscape. While packing in the hotel room, I felt a sense of fulfillment―I had done all I could during my five-day stay in Davos.

During the WEF Annual Meeting, I was able to confirm that my own profile has been upgraded. I have taken a part in various events, including GLOBIS Night, the session of the Global Growth Companies, which I served as a co-chair, and Global Agenda Councils. I have also advertised GLOBIS in The Wall Street Journal, and took the stage in various other sessions. I enjoyed meeting with many leading figures, while reconfirming old friendships with many leaders from around the world.

It is very important to be active at such an international event, although many Japanese people believe that they should behave with modesty. At every possible occasion, I spoke to people I saw, exchanged greetings, and handed out my name card. Through this process, I was able to build friendly relations with many people. The presence of good friends is essential, since they support my views during discussions and give me a major role in various sessions. It’s important to make steady efforts to build and maintain good relationships.

Even after returning home, I keep in contact with friends I made in Davos. To new friends, I send issues of Forbes Magazine and The Wall Street Journal that carry articles about me. Many people told me that they were impressed by the “Email from Japan,” which I updated shortly after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. I also send Christmas cards highlighted by my family photograph, about which I often receive favorable comments.

Through this process, I have made many friends. As a result, nearly 300 people assembled at the first GLOBIS Night. Many who did not come told me in person that they were sorry for not being able to attend the event. Having good friends and deepening friendships truly helped me to enhance my presence.

In addition to face-to-face contact, I use Twitter and Facebook. I was surprised to find that my Twitter messages have been read by so many people. To my great surprise, I was listed among the top five most active tweeters and the most retweeted during the WEF. In terms of retweeting, I was ranked second, next to the Malaysian prime minister. For a moment, I was even ranked at the top of the list. Regrettably, I was not able to take a photograph of that moment.
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It’s truly a surprise that my reports from Davos had the largest number of readers. Probably, I should have tweeted more in English. I will continue to write and send out tweets.

At Davos Station, I happened to see Mr. Daisuke Iwase of Lifenet Insurance Company. This is the photo taken there.
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On my way from Davos, I enjoyed the company of Mr. Yoshimitsu Kaji, who serves in the office of the prime minister. While viewing the scenery from the train window, we discussed our impressions of this year’s WEF. We both recognized that participants demonstrated a keen interest in Japan, which I dare say was at an unprecedented level. Their greatest geopolitical concern was the Japan-China relationship. Macro-economists were most interested in so-called Abenomics. Many subjects, such as energy problems and the aging population, were not discussed without mentioning Japan.

On the other hand, China’s presence was not as high as we had expected. Although many people embraced a strong curiosity about the unknown country a few years ago, the more they learn about the country, the less they become interested in it. This year, they were more interested in the relationship between China and Japan than in China itself. In addition, discussions about China mainly concerned negative subjects, including the government’s censorship of The Southern Weekly and the serious air pollution in Beijing.

During my time in Davos, I strongly felt that revolutionary changes are quietly underway. Driven by the power of the Internet, the power of the general public is growing. The public’s expectation of leaders is also changing radically, although many leaders are not yet fully aware of this. They feel that something is changing, but they haven’t yet recognized what is changing exactly. Meanwhile, the world is changing radically. Even university education, which has remained unchanged for the past few centuries, is showing signs of change.

Since the Euro crisis has quietened down, optimistic views were relatively dominant throughout the sessions. However, we still have many serious challenges to face in the world. I have received an invitation to next year’s WEF Annual Meeting and have already sent the letter of acceptance online.

By next year’s meeting, I hope that I can grow myself further. I strongly felt this while viewing the changing landscape from the train window.

See the World by Train, No. 1: Snow-capped mountains that I saw shortly after leaving Davos
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See the World by Train, No. 2: Rocky mountains
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See the World by Train, No.3: Lake, mountains, and greenery
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See the World by Train, No.4: At the airport
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This is the end of my report on the WEF Annual Meeting. I will fly to London now, so my journey will continue in the coming days. Thank you for reading


February 2, 2013
At home in Ichibancho, Tokyo
Yoshito Hori