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Jidai Festival, Kyoto

Gion Festival & other Kyoto goodies

Archive for June, 2011

A blueprint for Japan’s future success

June 22nd, 2011 | Posts By Devalier | Filed in: Leadership

ACCJ White Paper Cover

Well, generally I stay out of the crosshairs of politics, especially as I can’t vote in Japan as a permanent foreign resident.

But an article I read today in the Wall St. Journal leaves me with a disquieting feeling, and I pass it along to readers:

The gist of the article is that neither the lackluster Prime Minister Naoto Kan nor the two leading contenders to replace him appear to be talking about genuine reform in Japan—when March 11, as tragic as it was, presents a golden opportunity to enact needed policy change.

Recently I attended a press conference of three experts who discussed a major White Paper: “Charting a New Course for Growth” Recommendations for Japan’s Leaders. These three speakers were Michael J. Alfant, President of the American Chamber of Commerce of Japan and CEO of Fusion Systems, Kyoji Fukao, Professor of Contemporary Economies, Hitotsubashi University, and Nicholas Benes, Governor and Chair, ACCJ Growth Strategy Task Force and Representative Director of the Board Director Training Institute of Japan.

The ACCJ Growth Strategy Task Force (GSTF) was formed in January 2010 and is made up of 70 people of diverse Japanese and other nationalities and backed by 17 financial sponsors. It drew on the findings of the Fukao-Kwon Report of Hitotsubashi and Nihon Universities and the Eberhart-Gucwa Report of Stanford University. The mission of the GSTF is to provide in-depth, independent analysis to inform policy makers and to offer practical recommendations to the government of Japan in key policy areas, to promote long-term, sustainable growth.

You can read the detailed findings of the task force in English or Japanese by downloading the White Paper on the ACCJ site (far left column):

The authors see great opportunities and potential in Japan given its large capital base and savings pool, powerful technology base, and strength of human capital.

Fresh Japanese entrepreneurship is critical to sustainable growth

The key findings of the Fukao-Kwon Report are startling and provide a clue to Japan’s growth potential. In the period 1996-2006, independent Japanese companies lost 3.8 million jobs (the impact of shifting production offshore), whereas foreign companies created nearly 150 thousand jobs and new Japanese companies established after 1996 created nearly 1.2 million jobs. Stimulating and supporting this entrepreneurship is the key to future growth.

The GSTF recommends several initiatives to spur entrepreneurship, as described in the ACCJ White Paper, including:

  • establishing an Office of Entrepreneurship in the Cabinet, reporting directly to the Prime Minister, a step to communicate how vital entrepreneurship is to the nation and celebrate successes
  • using innovation awards to draw positive attention to the role of entrepreneurs in bringing innovation to market
  • reducing regulatory barriers that hinder new market entrants
  • encouraging entrepreneurs from abroad to establish businesses in Japan by increasing ease of use and relaxing the requirements for self-sponsorship visas
  • emphasizing private-sector financing and encouraging market-based equity financing of startups and small businesses
  • creating a bilingual and searchable national database with user-generated uploads for underutilized technology that anyone can access

Other GSTF core recommendations are to promote inward globalization through expanded Foreign Direct Investment and more open immigration policies, utilize tax incentives to encourage startups, and enhance services productivity through deregulation. Many people do not know that currently 80% of Japan’s GDP comes from services and only 20% is from manufacturing. I was one of them.

Leadership is the vital link to the whole blueprint

The GSTF firmly believes that with leadership Japan can:

  • become a vibrant center for entrepreneurship, innovation and finance in Asia
  • generate higher rates of per capital GDP growth
  • stimulate a fast-moving economy that creates exciting job opportunities for younger generations
  • attract needed talent and investment through immigration

What’s vitally needed is the leadership to realize Japan’s full upside potential.

And that is where you enter the picture. Make it happen. Create the future. It is yours for the making.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

©2011 Warren J. Devalier

Ichiro in Action

June 15th, 2011 | Posts By interface | Filed in: Movies

©2011 Warren J. Devalier

The Quintessential Pro

June 8th, 2011 | Posts By Devalier | Filed in: Culture, Leadership

Ichiro at Bat

I just returned from New Orleans, my home town, which I had not visited since Katrina hit the Big Easy (as New Orleans is dubbed) on that fateful day, August 23, 2005. Much to my relief, surprise and utter delight, the city has made a remarkable comeback. The houses are mostly all rebuilt, repainted and spiffed up, and the music and food distinguishing New Orleans are as good as ever.

It made me even more optimistic that Japan will bounce back from March 11, 2011 stronger, thanks to the resilience and persistence of its people.

And no where is that determination and other strength more evident than in Ichiro Suzuki, in his 11th year with the Seattle Mariners, with so many records of excellence to his credit that they will surely name a street after him when he retires. These include record hits (262) in a single season, and 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons. Ichiro has played in so many all-star games (10) that he is a star unto his own. On April 2, he became the Mariners All-Time Hit Leader, surpassing Edgar Martinez.

The "hitting machine"

Now 37, Ichiro maintains avoids injury by continuous stretching and training likely as hard as or harder than any other player in Major League Baseball. A perfectionist, fans call Ichiro “the hitting machine.” Safeco stadium, the home base of the Mariners, has concocted a special sushi in his honor, Ichiroll.

Setting the pace

Last Sunday, Ichiro was in outstanding form, with a huge two-run triple in the third inning on a slashing liner to right-center, and a laser pinpoint single later in the game, helping the Mariners tally a come-from-behind 8-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. In addition to winning 15 of their last 20 games, the Mariners have won six series in a row, a streak pulling them second behind Texas in the American League West.

Ichiro is the quintessential professional and a role model for anyone seeking a ranking place in global leadership. And that includes YOU.

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier

post-script—I`ll post an iPhoto video of Ichiro in the next few days.

©2011 Warren J. Devalier

The Big Easy

June 3rd, 2011 | Posts By Devalier | Filed in: Culture, General

New Orleans River Front

The Mississippi speaks of myriad spirits
aside a place where the twain marks its time:

Faulkner tossed spitballs
to guileless passersby here,
in atypically laconic style his entertaining way
of greeting Tennessee Williams’ cat on a hot tin roof
procreating in the moon glow;
enraptured by Louis Armstrong’s rampart jazz;
by sweet Emma’s celebration of  a Creole heritage—
rich and enduring, the chicory spice of diversity.

The river runs its course as laidback as ever,
while marching saints let the good times roll,
oblivious of things to come,
because it has always been that way in the Big Easy,
just as work-at-home mothers have always hung their clothes
on an existential line, their red beans cooking
in the simmering heat, Katrina protests notwithstanding:
protests that we were ravaging the jambalaya bounty;
raping our only home.

When the hard rains came,
indiscriminately, they tore asunder
plantation homes and humble abode alike,
dwelling hewn with  the guts
of native sons and daughters—
but it was not the wind or rain
that leveled the city,
rather the tragedy of  misadministration.

At last people took notice
of nature’s distemper with the current fancy,
and vowed to change,
with the resolution of a widower’s grimace:
comme ci, comme ça, they rebuilt this Mardi Gras land;
the krewes of Bacchus and Zulu float onward,
their carnival beads radiant in the steamy sun;
the boiling pot teems with rice and brew—
crawfish étouffée and hurricane magic.

The Big Easy basks now in its own resilience,
jesters ply their craft on the river steamboats,
while gamblers horde the water lanes of their malcontent,
and Rue Royal leads the transient spectator,
as straight as an arrow plucked from the monk’s quiver,
to the streetcar named Desire.
If you ask the cajun guides to take you there,
they’ll  say “mon bonhomme, move with the
the river flow, and you’ll do just fine.”

All the best,

Warren J. Devalier
June 3, 2011

©2011 Warren J. Devalier