By Kevin Ching, Event Co-Chair
HJCC’s Japan Business Relations Committee presented a special seminar from visiting Professor, Dr. Atsushi Sunami, held at the Consul General of Japan’s residence on February 14th, 2017. Dr. Sunami’s presentation was about the how the advancement of technology has contributed to economic development and technological leadership in Japan.
Referring it to the “lost decade,” Dr. Sunami opened his presentation with the issue of Japan slipping from technological leadership between the 1990’s and 2000’s. He went on to explain that Japan saw the need to find the path to a stronger economy through innovation. “Abenomics,” a portmanteau of Japan Prime Minister “Abe” and the word, “economics” is an economic policy that Dr. Sunami referred to. Through this policy, Dr. Sunami focused on the 3rd arrow – the “New Growth Strategy.” It was interesting to learn about the working style reforms such as equal pay for equal work, equal opportunity promotion for women, foreigners, and retirees.
Dr. Sunami explained that since technology is a massive investment risk, Japan companies need to find new technology to save cost in energy, which brings the Japanese economy up.
He went on to explain how much of an impact on innovation was made by the smaller or medium sized manufacturing companies in Japan when it comes to technological advancement.
Aside from technology and the economy, a guest’s question has prompted Dr. Sunami to talk about curriculum reform – mainly “active learning” within the educational system, implemented by the Japan Ministry of Education. It then lead him to explain about how he believes that the university entrance exams in Japan needs to be changed such as the TOEFL exam. Calling it a “local source,” he feels that local universities need to be more attractive, global, and interesting so that prospective college students in Japan can attend local universities, not feeling the need to travel to big-name schools such as those in Tokyo.
Dr. Sunami’s presentation was not only interesting; it brought out a new perspective on the importance of how innovation affects the economy. A very big mahalo to the Consul General of Japan for hosting and to the Japan Business Relations Committee for putting this event together.
Vice President, Professor at National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)
Specialty: Science and Technology Policy, Science and Technology Diplomacy
Professor Sunami holds BSFS from Georgetown University. He obtained MIA and PhD in Political Science from Columbia University. He is currently Professor, and Vice President at National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan. He is serving as Special Advisor, Cabinet Office responsible for Science and Technology and Innovation. Before joining GRIPS, he was a Fellow at Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan between 2001 and 2003. He also worked as a researcher in the Department of Policy Research at Nomura Research Institute, Ltd. from 1989 to 1991. He was a visiting researcher at Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex, and Tsinghua University, China. He is also a members of the Advisory Board for the Promotion of Science and Technology Diplomacy in Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Council for Science and Technology in Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Expert Panel on Basic Policy in Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of Cabinet office.