The Why, Where, What and How Japan can co-create well-being and prosperity with the World.

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Osamu Kunii: Why a Young Doctor in a Rural Japanese Village Went to Somalia

Osamu or “Sam” Kunii is one of the most prominent leaders in the world of advancing global health.  Access to healthcare is a basic human need, especially for the disadvantaged, especially in days with COVID.  Sam grew up in Japan, always wanting to be doctor because he wanted to help people in need.  This led him to refugee camps of Africa...


Masahiko Uotani, Part 3: Message for the Next Generation – Go Global

Representative Director, President and CEO
Shiseido Company, Limited

On beauty being a common language, cosmetics in emerging countries, Tani on the golf course, culture and the fear of failure, embracing diversity, the “Ei-Ei-Oh” shout, the younger generation Go Global

In the last episode of my conversation with “Tani,” we start off with the concept of beauty.  After all, Shiseido is a beauty products company, and the world is a beautiful place.  Yet, there are global issues that are troublesome, and we touch upon some concerns.  There are cultural differences in different parts of the world, yet culture serves as base...


Masahiko Uotani, Part 2: Changing the Corporate Culture and Unleashing the People

Representative Director, President and CEO
Shiseido Company, Limited

On unleashing the people, changing the culture, “ichigan” organizational structure, being a global leader with a Japanese heritage, unpleasant business decisions, S-Park, diversity and inclusion.

In this Part 2 of my conversation with “Tani,” we went back to the topic of people.  As a long-term investor, I believe the most valuable intangible value of the company for their ongoing sustainable growth is the people.  All companies say that people are their most valuable asset, but people don’t show up as an “asset” on the balance sheet.  It shows up...


Masahiko Uotani, Part 1: CEO That Brought “Waku-Waku” to a 150 Year Old Company

Representative Director, President and CEO
Shiseido Company, Limited

On the perception of beauty, how an outsider became CEO, not recreating the company but unleashing the people, uplifting with waku-waku, and fundamentals of corporate governance.

Known as “Tani” to his friends abroad, Masahiko Uotani is my hero.  Shiseido was one of our initial investments in January 2009, when I launched with my partners the Commons 30 Fund, a “cross generational” long term investment fund in Japanese companies.  We had made the investment based on the thesis that Shiseido’s sense of beauty would have appeal and...


Jin Montesano: NOT Your Typical Japanese Corporate Director

Director, Executive Officer, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and General Affairs, Public Affairs, Investor Relations, External Affairs, and Corporate Responsibility, and Chief People Officer
LIXIL Corporation

On living in Hawaii, New York and Washington DC, the best decision of her life (and, it wasn’t about the pay), never wasting a good crisis, first impressions joining a Japanese company, corporate governance, breaking down the “top-down” culture, and embracing the career journey.

Jin is a communicator.  And, a great one, at that.  An aspiring novelist growing up in Hawaii and studying in New York, fate (and her father) would alter her career journey to public policy work in Washington DC.  Then another twist of fate (moving to Singapore with her husband) catapults her into the corporate world.  Honing her skills...


Tomonobu Kumahira: NOT Your Typical Japanese Millennial

Vice President, Corporate Finance & Strategy, Komaza
Acumen Fellow East Africa

On Brown University, “anthropological explorations”, conscience gap formed by 3.11, the “aha moment,” Airbnb for forestry, asking the questions, solving the problems.

In the previous episodes, all of my guests have referred to the “younger generation.”  So, it is only fair to give that generation a say.  My guest, Tomo Kumahira is a bona fide millennial, turning 30 this year.  However, he is not a typical Japanese millennial.  He is an executive at a forestry company based in Kenya, and has been selected as one of the...


Daren Afshar: Master Storyteller, Riding the Waves of Opportunites

Director, One Young World Japan
President, Winery Productions

On riding the “waves” of opportunities, elegant wine sommelier on stage, trying to bring MI series to Japan with Tom Cruise, hydrogen fuel cells, storytelling needed for Japan, One Young World

There are some people that leave an impression from the very first meeting.  This was Daren.  There are some people that sound a bit crazy, but you definitely like what you hear.  This was Daren.  And, then there are some gifted storytellers.  This is also Daren.  My guest on this episode, Daren Afshar was born in Corpus Christi, Texas but has grown up in a...


Matthew Goodman: It’s cool to be a Japan Expert Again

Senior Vice President for Economics and Simon Chair in Political Economy
Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)

On being a “gaijin” in Japan in the 80s, being cursed in 90s, the rise of China, relationship with Korea, with Myanmar, Trump to Biden, catastrophic mistake to withdraw from TPP, democracy, Japan’s “stock” and opportunity to step up.

Let’s take a trip around Asia Pacific with Japan as the starting point.  Our guide will be Matthew Goodman, a policy specialist in the region with a wealth of experience and insights formed through his long career both in the public and private sector, and hence a keen observer of this critical part of the world. Matthew arrived in Japan for the first...


Kiyoshi Kurokawa: Take a Leap! in the Connected World

Professor Emeritus, National Graduate Studies for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

On “tako-tsubo” and the single-tracked elite, Fukushima nuclear plant disaster and regulatory capture, taking a leap in the connected world.

Starting his career as medical practitioner, specializing in nephrology (kidney disease) , Kiyoshi’s field of activities took a big leap beyond the medical practice.   At 84 years strong, Kiyoshi is one of the most globally recognized opinion leaders from Japan.   His accomplishments and current activities can be seen here: In the 1970s...


Christina Ahmadjian: From OL (Office Lady) to the Boardroom

Professor, Hitotsubashi University

On serving tea, corporate governance, Japanese youth, kimonos, and ojisans

Chris is in a class of her own. She is a professor in Japan, an American of Armenian and Swedish descent, and never had interest in Japan while growing up. When Chris was entering university in 1978, China which was starting to open up, seemed really cool.  Upon entering Harvard University and meeting the program director of East Asian Studies...


About Ken

Ken Shibusawa founded in 2001, Shibusawa and Company, Inc., a strategic advisory firm for alternative investments, ESG/SDGs alignment and human resource development. He also founded in 2008, Commons Asset Management, a mutual fund dedicated to deliver long term investment opportunities to the Japanese household. He has extensive market experience at JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs as well as Moore Capital, a global macro hedge fund, where he was the representative managing director of the Tokyo Office. He is also director of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) and a steering committee member of UNDP SDG Impact. He is also a published author and writes frequently in magazines, journals, and internet media. He was educated in the United States from second grade elementary through college (University of Texas, BS Chemical Engineering, 1983), and then returned again for graduate school (University of California Los Angeles, MBA, 1987).