Made With Japan

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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...


Tak Niinami: Fallacies of the “Golden Mean”

Chief Executive Officer, Suntory Holdings

On leading a different path, good greed, diversity, and Japan’s soft power

Tak is one of the most widely recognized business executives in Japan, as CEO of Suntory Holdings, first established 122 years ago to introduce western “fortified wine” into Japan, and since has evolved into one of the world’s leading beverage companies with operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceania and Africa. They are distillers of...