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These few days, I came across with several occasions in which need to think seriously about the human capital.  There is no question that human capital forms the foundation for the society, country, and the world.   It is such a broad topic, ranging from the leadership to development of young generation.

Leadership has been discussed often as the popular topic, now that many countries and many organizations are in need of the leaders and/or new leadership, as we are into the uncharted water with many uncertainties.  Development of young generation is also a very important topic often discussed, as unemployment tends to hit them hardest, despite the expectation that they shape the future and will determine how the world operates from now.

In discussing the topic of  human capital, we cannot ignore the reality of inter-connected world, ever accelerating technologies and resource constraint, whether they are water, food stuff or energy. In other words, the human capital requirement for the 21st century is quite different from that which functioned well in the 20th century.

I see some troubling and disturbing signs, however.  Despite the reality of the world, people (and the country, for that matter) seem to be heading toward more inward focus (protectionism, instead of opening up), driven by technologies (rather than making the best of and attempting to manage them), and “consumption” life style.

These issues came up to my mind as I had a chance to talk about where Japan stands now (with new Prime Minister–6th in five years–, quick and flexible adaption and faster recovery of relatively smaller companies and resilience of ordinary people after the earthquake etc.),   how the young Japanese stack up with the rest of the world in their mentality and behavior, and what to do to ensure that the young generation is equipped with necessary skills and expertise to grow in the new era.

I do not have answers to these issues, and yet, discussing them with a variety of people–journalists from the UK, young Japanese business executives in the education industry, Dean and professor of the U.S. business school, and an entrepreneur with high aspiration–makes me reflect, challenges my original hypothesis as they bring me more up-to-date facts,  and sometimes leave me into more confusion.   I believe my task is to continue discussing the issues with many different people, test some of my ideas, and revise them with trial and error.  It is too important a topic to give up, how challenging or overwhelming it may look sometimes.

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