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 I came to Stanford to give a seminar entitled “Is Japan Creating an Entrepreneurial Economy?” on Tuesday. The presentation was organized by the US-Asia Technology Management Center, and the Stanford Program on Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE), together with the Japan Society of Northern California and Keizai Society. (See this for the announcement080527-flyer.pdf.) It appeared that more organizations joined in announcing my seminar, which was great. The audience consisted of Stanford students, others from the Stanford community, and business people and professionals from the Silicon Valley area.

 I began the session by asking the audience the question, “Is Japan Creating an Entrepreneurial Economy?” the title itself. As I never spoke at the Stanford, I wanted to find out the overall impression of the audience. Those who answered No to the question were more than those with Yes.

   I talked for about 45 –50 minutes, covering what I wrote in Nikkei Shimbun commentary in April, adding my own experience and assessment of what has happened to Innovation 25 and cluster initiative. There were so many questions after my talk that we had to continue our discussion well beyond the assigned time, outside. (We had to vacate the Skilling Auditorium at 5:30 or so. It was even nicer to do it outside it was such a lovely evening.)  I enjoyed our dialogue and Q & A tremendously, and learned so many new things. Some 40 people gave me their name cards, asked me questions, made more comments etc. It was a bit tough to prepare for the presentation over the past several days, as I did not realize how big a deal the seminar was until last week!, but it was such a stimulating experience for me.  

  I am convinced that if you are given an opportunity to do something new, you should always give it a try. I hope this is not the last time I come to Stanford to give a talk and just the beginning of our dialogue.    

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  • Comments (4)

    • Ben Matsuzaki
    • May 29th, 2008

    “Is Japan Creating an Entrepreneurial Economy?” is a very interesting question to me. A few days ago, I met a student of the University of Tokyo, which was, I thought, the most conservative university.

    The student is now organizing a big session where the a lot of junior and senior students meet the alumni. Hundreds of them will join the event to ask questions about how the alumni have built their career. The alumni are from all possible industries, not only finance or traditional manufacturing, but IT ventures and foreign affiliated companies.

    When I graduated the university 20 years ago, 70% of my classmates went to “prestigious” banks and public sectors. IT was nowhere at that time. The students were not exposed to such diverse alumni group.

    Yes, the economy, or I would say, the whole environment around the young people has been changing very rapidly (20 years is a short period of time relative to whatever changes Japan experienced) toward entrepreneurial and maybe more exciting stage. People in our generation, including me and my ex-classmates (and even you, Ishikura-san!) have lead the trend and the younger people are now following us to further accelerate the change.

    At the end of the conversatin with the student, I promised her to join the session.


    • yishikura
    • May 30th, 2008

    Dear Ben, this is Yoko Ishikura. Thanks for your encouraging comment. Yes. I believe that the quiet change and transformation is taking place, though it has not quite surfaced yet. Reading blogs and books by some influential people such as Umeda, Saito, Jo, Mogi seem to indicate that there are enough people who would appreciate these voices and now take actions. After all, ICT has given us a tremendous opportunity for anyone, regarless of nationality, age, background etc. to express their views AND get connected beyond national or organizational boundaries. That message was what I ended my session at Stanford with.

  1. Dear Yoko,

    Your presentation was very well received by everyone at Stanford. You gave a very balanced view, stimulated a lot of thought and definitely caused a lot of people to ask you (and me) a lot of questions.

    I believe the transformation of Japan is accelerating and you and Hitotsubashi ICS are in the vanguard.

    We hope you will come to Stanford again, soon.

    Bob Eberhart

    • yishikura
    • June 5th, 2008

    Dear Bob, this is Yoko Ishikura. Thanks for your kind words. I am delighted that my presentation was well received.
    I am grateful that you and Stanford gave me such a great opportunity.
    I hope this was not the last time for me to visit Stanford.

    It is always nice to have many questions to work with. They keep me active!

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