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Kazuyuki Matsumoto

Japan Week

Every year, at this time, Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall is dressed up to celebrate Japan Week. And, just as in other years, it was a splendid and colourful event. Though squeezed into one side of the exhibition space, because of construction, Japan week was a huge hit. Even in the much smaller space, there was, I think for the first time, a favourite in Japan; namely, kaiten-sushi! The theme this year was Tohoku and Hokkaido. Of course, there was much else, but the beautiful colours of Northern Japan really shone through. Now, for the literary types, Hokkaido and Sapporo have been put on the map by Murakami Haruki (A… Read More »Japan Week

Minimum wage in New York State

Assistant director Namiko Mukumoto and senior researcher Seth Benjamin attended a breakfast forum at the Manhattan Institute to hear a spirited discussion of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s push in the New York State legislature for a $15 minimum wage. The former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the president of the Albany-based Empire Center for Public Policy, E. J. McMahon, and the chief executive officer of America Works, Lee Bowes, presented their views on the subject. Starting off the conversation, E. J. McMahon explained that the federal minimum wage law set a floor on top of which the states could always create their own higher rate. He… Read More »Minimum wage in New York State

“Is Japan Really Back”: A symposium in honor of Professor Gerald Curtis

Gerald Curtis, Burgess Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, has retired after teaching there since 1968. To celebrate his long and distinguished career as one of the top experts on not only the dynamics of Japanese domestic politics but also Japan’s society and political economy, and in recent years, increasingly, its place in the international community, Columbia held a symposium on December 17th featuring a number of prominent speakers on various topics relating to the question “Is Japan Really Back?”. In a nod to the “Koizumi Children” of several years ago, many participants referred to themselves as “Curtis Children”. The symposium was organized as a series of panel discussions,… Read More »“Is Japan Really Back”: A symposium in honor of Professor Gerald Curtis

Abenomics: Skepticism and Hope -Columbia Business School “Zadankai” in November 2015-

Akinari Horii, a former assistant governor of the Bank of Japan, gave a spirited and interesting “zadankai” lecture on the current state of ‘Abenomics’. Mr. Horii is a special advisor and a member of the board of directors at the Canon Institute for Global Studies in Tokyo. He has had a long career as a central banker, with the Bank of Japan and the Ministry of Finance. He has been extensively involved in international matters at the Bank, spending some time at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland. A graduate of the University of Tokyo, he received an MBA, with distinction, from the Wharton School at the University… Read More »Abenomics: Skepticism and Hope -Columbia Business School “Zadankai” in November 2015-

For Yaskawa, the Future is Now -Columbia Business School “Zadankai” in October 2015

Staff of the Japan Local Government Center recently attended a Columbia University Business School “zadankai” lecture by Masahiro Ogawa and Mike Knapek, both corporate vice-presidents of Yaskawa Electric Company. The presentation by the two company officials was to talk about how the Japanese company has built its reputation in the United States and what it hopes its future will be in North America. Along the way, the company wanted to give some advice for other Japanese companies that wish to break into the North American market. Mike Knapek, vice-president, Yaskawa Corporation Mr. Knapek began by describing the background of the company and how it had become the leader in various… Read More »For Yaskawa, the Future is Now -Columbia Business School “Zadankai” in October 2015

Japan Society – Corporate Programme – Business & Policy

The Physics of Success: Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Shuji Nakamura on Fostering Innovation Staff of the Japan Local Government Center in New York had another excellent opportunity to hear leading Japanese businessmen and educators. We were honoured to hear Dr. Shuji Nakamura, the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for physics. Dr. Nakamura is somewhat of a gadfly to the Japanese corporate world and his talk was an illuminating inside look at the nature of innovation in Japan. Because of his past history with the Japanese corporate world, he began his talk with a fascinating look at the way in which his Nobel Prize was reported in Japan. (At this point, it… Read More »Japan Society – Corporate Programme – Business & Policy

An Interview with Ray Kelly, former NYPD Commissioner at the Manhattan Institute

Recently, Ray Kelly, former police commissioner for New York City under Mayors Dinkins and Bloomberg, was interviewed by the Manhattan Institute about his new book that chronicles his time in New York. Staff from the Japan Local Government Center was able to go and listen to his story. He has had a 40 year career with the New York Police Department (NYPD); from patrolman all the way up to commissioner. He explained his background was quite humble: Two-parent household, four siblings, Irish-American, catholic school. Discussing the current state of affairs in New York City, he made it clear that demographics are really important. People think that one can go on… Read More »An Interview with Ray Kelly, former NYPD Commissioner at the Manhattan Institute

Results of the Satogaeri Project

We would like to announce the selection result of the “~ JET Programme Alumni Satogaeri Project:  Return to your second home in Japan ~”. The participants for this project from North America are as follows: Mr. Mark Frey, Kumamoto 2002-2006 (JETAA Northern California, JETAANC President) Mr. Xander Peterson, Miyazaki 2009-2012 (JETAA Northern California, USA Country Representative) Mr. Alex Svetlovsky, Okayama 2008-2009 (JETAA Ottawa, Canada Country Representative) We had 165 applicants from North America (122 were from the US, 43 were from Canada), far beyond our wildest imagination. Thank you all for applying to the “Satogaeri Project”. Again, please give our best regards to all the people who have supported the… Read More »Results of the Satogaeri Project

Building New Communities in Tohoku

The physical devastation in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan was immediately clear and overwhelming, even from a distance, and the ongoing work to rebuild cities on higher ground is a striking civil engineering project. However, beyond the need to create new physical infrastructure there lies a concurrent need to create new social infrastructure, and this is not so readily apparent to the eye. Communities were under stress already, prior to the triple disasters of March 11, 2011, owing to declining birthrates, the outmigration of young people looking for opportunities, and the aging and mortality inevitably taking place among those who stayed behind, combined with changing economic and social behavior.… Read More »Building New Communities in Tohoku

Japan Society Hosts Yoshihiko Miyauchi, Senior Chairman of ORIX Corporation

Recently, staff had the opportunity to hear a famed Japanese company executive talk about the changes that are occurring in Japanese management styles. This talk was timely, coming as it did after one by a senior manager at Ajinomoto about selling Japanese products overseas. Mr. Miyauchi, like most company executives from that time period, in 1960, went to work straight out of college. At that time, Japan was going through an economic renaissance. Just a few years after regaining its sovereignty and beginning to rebuild after World War II, Japan was everything about risk-taking. Companies made huge bets on the future and for the most part they paid off –… Read More »Japan Society Hosts Yoshihiko Miyauchi, Senior Chairman of ORIX Corporation

Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School – Zadankai

Thursday 23rd April 2015 Gyoza, Rice and Noodles for the U.S. Mainstream Market Recently, staff from the Japan Local Government Center had a unique opportunity to listen to a high level Japanese corporate executive talk about how his company intends to gain access to the mainstream U.S. consumer market. Mr. Hiroshi Kaho, general manager for business strategy and development at Ajinomoto Company, Inc., gave a short talk in English followed by an interesting question and answer session. What is really significant about this opportunity is the chance to hear from an insider what strategy is needed to market Japanese products in a mainstream market like the United States. As Japanese… Read More »Center on Japanese Economy and Business, Columbia Business School – Zadankai

Build It Back Audit Details Failures & Recommends Future Actions

The New York City Comptroller’s Office issued an audit report on March 31st detailing the failings of the city’s Build It Back program for single-family homes, begun by Mayor Bloomberg in 2013 and continued, with major changes, by Mayor de Blasio. Based on an audit of the program and information from six public hearings conducted by the Comptroller’s Office, the report is damning in its assessment of the ongoing failure of the city’s Housing Recovery Office (HRO) and the Mayor’s Office to properly monitor and oversee the program, resulting in unnecessary hardship for homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy and millions of dollars of waste and improper payments. Broad Channel, Queens,… Read More »Build It Back Audit Details Failures & Recommends Future Actions

Manhattan Institute Interviews Nigel Lawson, Former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer

Staff had an opportunity to attend an interesting ‘conversation’ at the Manhattan Institute with Nigel Lawson, now Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer (1983-1989) under the then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. His conversation was about the likely results in the upcoming U.K. general election and his Global Warming Policy Foundation. At the moment, the government is run by a coalition, consisting of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party (Nigel Lawson is a strong conservative voice and sits in the House of Lords – the U.K.’s upper chamber of parliament). Currently, the two main parties, Conservative and Labour, maintain an even support – about one-third… Read More »Manhattan Institute Interviews Nigel Lawson, Former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer

On the Fourth Anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

Construction in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture 3.11 Visiting Japan four years out from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and thousand-year tsunami that hit the Tohoku region of Japan on March 11, 2011 (3.11), signs of new hope mingle with signs of continuing struggle. Compared to two or three years ago, however, the overall sense is that the future is finally beginning to take shape, even if the past still defines the landscape. Even now it is sobering to see the extent of the damage wrought by 3.11. Due to Japan’s stringent building codes and hard lessons learned in the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake of 1995, damage from the initial earthquake, although it was… Read More »On the Fourth Anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

New York City’s Commodity Distribution Point Program

It’s easy to get used to the conveniences of New York City: Great tap water; abundant restaurants, shops, and bodegas scattered throughout almost every neighborhood; and a pretty good transportation network (most of the time). But what happens if all of that suddenly shuts down? Learning from Superstorm Sandy, the City of New York has been reassessing all aspects of its emergency preparedness, both in terms of understanding what the dangers are and how the City can best respond to them. One outcome of this has been the decision to implement a new Commodity Distribution Point program that will help ensure that residents receive basic emergency supplies, hopefully within 24… Read More »New York City’s Commodity Distribution Point Program