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

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Shoukei Matsumoto: Mindfulness by a Contemporary Buddhist Monk

Contemporary Buddhist Monk
Komyoji Temple

On the perfect stranger in the corporate world, overcoming the dualistic view, Zen and Pure Land Buddhism, the good ancestor, transmission and translation, here and now, capitalism and growth, imagination and curiosity, interconnected and not a standalone.

Shoukei Matsumoto is a contemporary Buddhist monk.  Just like traditional art and contemporary art, a contemporary Buddhist monk alongside a traditional Buddhist monk should be acceptable.  Typically, images of Buddhist monks are serving ceremonial rituals and supporting functions at their temple, but those activities are only a little part of Shoukei’s...


Nicholas Benes: Corporate Governance Trailblazer for Japan Inc.

Representative Director
The Board Director Training Institute of Japan

On corporate governance, third arrow of Abenomics, making a stance on the world, BDTI, productivity and labor market efficiency, incentives for the long term, family identity.

Nicholas (“Nick”) Benes was the first person in my sphere of recognition that raised a loud and clear voice regarding the need to improve corporate governance in Japan.  He laid the groundwork that eventually led to the implementation of the corporate governance code in 2014, as a part of the “third arrow” in “Abenomics,” the growth strategy of Prime...


Mihoko Kashiwakura: An Angry Little Girl Grows Up to Alleviate Poverty in Our World

Head of East Asia Relations, Global Policy and Advocacy
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

On alleviating poverty in the world, global health, value of a company, the role of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ODA allocation, international procurement by Japanese companies, Goalkeepers, impact-weighted accounting.

Mihoko Kashiwakura is one of these impressive individuals who was able to pursue a childhood passion into a career that has positive impact.  That passion was to alleviate poverty from our world.  Working with Mihoko over the last couple of years in the area of global health, I thought I’ve come to know her fairly well.  However, through our...


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

Head of Strategy, Investment & Impact Division
The Global Fund

On global health, Africa, helping people in need, Okinawa-Kyushu G8 Summit, global partnerships, reality of healthcare in refugee camps, being prepared, Japan’s role.

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...


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).