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Date of Issue:1/October/2002

The 26th Leadership Program on Japan

Hiroyasu Tamagawa
Director, International Exchange Department
Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST)

Over one week, 13 opinion-leaders from around the world attended seminars on Japanese economy, politics, society and culture, taking part in fieldwork and exchanges of views with key Japanese figures as part of a very successful program.

Since 1990, the Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST) has operated the Leadership Program as a means of promoting foreign understanding of Japan, inviting the world's opinion leaders to our country to engage in exchanges of views with key Japanese figures. The 26th Leadership Program was held over six days from 9-14 September 2002, combining seminars with group discussion, fieldwork and other events. A total of 13 persons took part, from China, Indonesia and Thailand in Asia; from Canada and the United States in North America; from Mexico, Venezuela and Chile in Latin America; from France and Italy in Europe; and from Kenya in Africa. Among them we welcome first time each participant from Venezuela, Chile and Kenya. This broad balance of countries from around the world was echoed in the wide range of professions represented, including government officials, private-sector journalists, academics and company executives. Four of the participants were women, the highest ratio to date, as women become increasingly well-represented in the program.

The program comprised wide-ranging seminars on the Japanese political situation, economy and market, exchanges of views with bureaucrats on economic and industrial policy, group discussions on social and cultural issues, and company tours and other fieldwork, with interested participants also provided with the opportunity for private interviews with experts.

Seminars comprised "Japan Now, Meeting a New Global Challenge" by Makoto Kuroda, President of the World Economic Information Services (WEIS); "Perspective of the Japanese Economy and its Issues" by Hiromi Kato, Deputy Director General of Economic Assessment and Policy Analysis, Cabinet Office; "The Japanese Markets" by Glen S. Fukushima, President & CEO, Cadence Design Systems, Japan; "Political Development in Japan -Past and Present-" by Professor Naoto Nonaka, Gakushuin University; and "Japan in the Global Community" by Professor Kiichi Fujiwara, Tokyo University. Following the seminar program, a group discussion was held on "Recent Development of the Japanese Business Environment (Culture, Society, Labor & Management) ". Moderated by Professor Kaoru Kobayashi of Sanno University, a lively group discussion took place among panelists Gebhard Hielscher, Director, Tokyo Office, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and Francoise Morechand-Nagataki, Visiting Professor at Kyoritsu Women's University and program participants. At the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Vice-Minister for International Affairs Tadakatsu Sano spoke on current trade policy in a presentation entitled "Perspective of the Japanese Economy and its Issues". Program participants also exchanged views with METI officials and engaged in individual interviews. In addition, to enable participants to hear directly from the private sector to the greatest possible extent, opportunities for exchanges of views with Japanese businesspeople were also arranged in Tokyo and Osaka.

In terms of fieldwork, participants visited Sony Media World to gain a better understanding of Japan's economic and industrial situation, given Sony's status as a representative Japanese company. In Kansai, they visited the Daito Plant operated by home electronic appliance manufacturer Sanyo Electric to examine the mobile phone production process, and also heard from Yoshinori Sato, Vice-President of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. Multimedia Company on the company's management policy and content. In Kyoto, a visit was made to Watabun Co., Ltd., as a manufacturer representative of Japanese traditional industry, touring a plant producing obi sashes. In Kansai they also made a courtesy call on Shigenobu Suzuki, Vice Governor of Osaka, who explained the Kansai economic situation and took part in an exchange of views. In Kyoto, participants visited Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera and other of Japan's historical cultural assets, deepening their understanding of Japanese culture. IIST hopes that in their short week in Japan, the various seminars, exchanges of views and field trips enabled participants to deepen their understanding of Japan. On completion of the program, all 13 participants were asked to submit comments on how their impressions of Japan had changed in general terms, as well as in regard to the Japanese economy, society and culture, and these will be introduced in the next two issues of this mail magazine.

We hope that even after their return home, participants will sustain their network as program alumni, maintaining an ongoing exchange of views.


Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST)
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