Overview of the 13th "Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan" Forum

  • Date:
    Saturday, August 4 2012
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "Japan's Future and the People to Build It"
  • Details:
    • Koji Murata
      (Dean, Faculty of Law, Doshisha University)
    • ○Greeting
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      1) Developing People Who Can Develop Communities
      Yoshinori Isagai (Associate Professor, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University)
      2) Developing Human Resources for the 21st Century Society
      Makoto Iokibe (President, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute / Former President, National Defence Academy)
      3) Developing Human Resources for the Business World ― Requirements of Global Human Resources
      Hisashi Ietsugu (President and CEO, Sysmex Corporation)
    • ○Sessions
      Session1: The Future of the Region
      Moderator: Hiroyuki Kato
      (Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University)
      Session2: Developing Human Resources for the 21st Century Society
      Moderator: Yutaka Katayama
      (Professor, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University)
      Session3: Developing Human Resources for the Business World
      Moderator: Shigeyuki Abe
      (Professor, Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)
    • ○General Plenary Session
    • ○Summary & Acknowledgements

      Makoto Iokibe (President, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute / Former President, National Defence Academy)

    • Picture: Forum 2012

The Forum opened with a welcome message by Awaji Conference Representative Director Satoshi Iue and followed with keynote proposals by 3 speakers, coordinated by Koji Murata, Dean, Faculty of Law, Doshishya University.

After that, participants broke up into 3 sessions where active discussions on selected themes ensured.

The plenary session that followed lunch began with session moderators reporting on the discussions of their respective sessions and was followed by deep discussions by all in attendance. Finally, to close the two days of events, Awaji Conference Executive Director Makoto Iokibe gave a summary of events and made acknowledgements.

Overview of Keynote Proposals

Developing People Who Can Develop Communities
Yoshinori Isagai / Associate Professor, Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University

How can we reenergize local communities? Local communities have a plethora of resources, i.e., natural environment, history, culture, cuisine, etc. Using these resources freely can pave the way. To do this, a "process for developing these resources" that necessarily (1) re-identifies the local resources in a new light, (2) forms and adds meaning to the relationships between people, and (3) strategically develops the resources, must be established. In other words, what is important is not whether there are resources or not but turning them into working resources. I want to highlight here the people who are tasked with developing these resources. The leaders involved with local development are not ordering or compelling the development of resources but are achieving that by brilliantly bringing together various individuals and groups. I call this kind of human resource a "platform architect," a leader who can establish and manage a place or situation that allows others to be creative.

So, what can be done to develop this kind of human resource? The qualities they need are the ability to identify and resolve problems, the ability to take action and an entrepreneurial spirit. This session will discuss specific ways to develop the human resources who will develop local communities.

Developing Human Resources for the 21st Century Society
Makoto Iokibe / President, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute / Former President, National Defence Academy

Building character implies intellectual, moral and physical growth. Both success and defeat are important towards this. The experiences of winning and loosing are food for thought, as having the discipline to learn from those lessons is the foundation of a rich sense of humanity. In developing human resources, it is said at the National Defense Academy of Japan that, in this age of globalization, one cannot be a true leader without international experience. A good leader, with pride and love of his/her country, must understand and respect the fact that servicepersons and leaders of other countries also have pride and love of their own countries. The action taken by cadets from the National Defense Academy on the day of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the services rendered in stricken areas by the Self-Defense Forces are a testament to kind of human resources society needs going forward.

Developing Human Resources for the Business World
―Requirements of Global Human Resources―
Hisashi Ietsugu / President and CEO, Sysmex Corporation

Our company makes equipment used in clinical testing and diagnostic reagents. Sales overseas account for a strong 70% of all revenues. While competing with pharmaceutical manufacturers and other Western companies, we also do joint research and have sales tie-ups with them.

With the business environment going through great changes, citing an appreciated yen that is tied to the Lehman Brother's Shock and the sovereign debt crisis of the EU, the rise of emerging countries and businesses of differing industry entering the markets, the key to a company's survival is its people. Finding and training human resources for working on a global stage is a particularly pressing issue.

Global human resources need more than just language skills. They need first and foremost knowledge, skills and information for engaging all sorts of people around the world as a business person. They need a challenging spirit, one's own vision and the ability to act based on one's own convictions. Additionally, they must identify themselves as Japanese, while still recognizing and accepting diversity. For this reason, it is important to forge various experiences while still young. And, more than anything else, a company itself must globalize and make itself attractive.

Overview of Sessions

Key Points of Session 1: The Future of the Region
Reported by: Hiroyuki Kato (Professor, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University)

Given that "human resource development" is an important component of "regional development," it was discussed in particular how to get young people involved in developing their local areas, how to motivate them, how to discover and share local resources and how to develop the key persons who can lead communities.

Firstly, it was pointed out that a solid knit community must exist in order to get young people involved in regional development and to provide them with opportunities to play an active part in local development. Such a community would be bound by a fellowship within the area and would have an administrative organization at the tail end of governmental structures. Without this kind of organization, it is not possible to get young people involved in the community.

Secondly, it was pointed out that, before discussing how to build a community, it is important to bring together those originally from the area with those who move into it from the outside. It is by bringing insiders and outsiders together and getting them to work together that a community can reorganize and reanimate itself. It is important to understand the community in that relation.

Thirdly, an opinion was put forth that, to develop a local area around a community, it was important to ensure jobs. One thinkable approach would be to activate or reorganize industry by, for example, reexamining primary industries like agriculture and forestry so as to develop mechanisms that would allow young people to take part or developing agriculture to be competitive and produce higher added-value.

Fourthly, an opinion was put forward with regard to the above that restrictions were impeding various activities that could revitalize local areas and that it would be difficult to pursue any fundamental revitalization without aiming at deregulation.

Lastly, it was pointed out that a balanced community, one that necessarily includes the elderly, is a pretext to getting young people involved in local development. That would be the first step to a system that could motivate the young into contributing to community development.

Key Points of Session 2: Developing Human Resources for the 21st Century Society
Reported by: Yutaka Katayama (Professor , Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University)

Discussions began on the topic of Japanese businesses desperately needing global human resources. Many opinions were voiced that what businesses really needed were global human resources with a diverse set of values and capable of expressing themselves.

On the topic of what kind of human resources are needed, there were opinions that universities have lagged behind the globalization demands more than anyone else and are incapable of producing the human resources needed by society and business, and that Japan would fall even farther behind if something is not done soon to address the pressures of globalization.

In a comparison of universities in Japan and the USA, it was pointed out that a high number of exchange students in the USA come from China and Korea, and that the general consensus especially in Korea was to train and develop elite resources via university education and exchange programs, whereas Japan was halfway dedicated on the issue. In the meantime, the number of Japanese exchange students in the USA is decreasing without a doubt, but some of this can be attributed to the fact that students are choosing from a greater diversity of exchange destinations, therefore there is not reason to be pessimistic.

Moreover, a very important point was made of the topic of human resource development in that no discussions can be had without looking at where Japan will be in 20 or 50 years time and thinking about what should be done going forward. Human resource development and Japan's future must be treated as a set.

In addition to that, the opinion was indicated that universities are important as places where people meet, communicate and stimulate one another. It is desired that universities provide real opportunities for communication, including interaction with teachers, rather than just provide a place for receiving lessons.

Furthermore, it was pointed out that, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, women in particular have been apprehensive about nuclear power and harboring deep concerns about life and the environment, but those thoughts have not been properly reflected in Japanese society where men are dominant. It was subsequently recognized as important that the views of women be assuredly reflected in human resource development in Japan.

Lastly, the opinion was voiced that the liberal arts are important to both high school and university education. Yet, though young people today are used to obtaining information via the internet and are not geared to study the liberal arts, it was strongly voiced that this should not be worried about since people live into their 90s and one can start learning about the liberal arts at age 50 or 60 if they did not study it in university.

Key Points of Session 3: Developing Human resources for the Business World
Reported by: Shigeyuki Abe (Professor, Faculty of Policy Studies, Doshisha University)

Discussions on human resource development by businesses focused on the three points of "what kind of human resources are necessary," "what approaches to development are used" and "training environments."

On the first focal point of "what kind of human resources are necessary," it was pointed out as important to develop human resources that are capable of "persuasive negotiations" instead of thinking that simply speaking English lets you operate around the world. But, given that English is the basis of communications today, it was also noted that being unable to speak English presents problems.

The opinion was voiced, that whichever the case, leaders require the ability to convince their counterparts. In that regards, serious thinking is required amongst Japanese businesses since, when engineers try to manage a company, they do fine with technical aspects but do not develop managerial components well.

On the second focal point of "what approaches to (human resource) development are used," it was noted that, when newly hired employees are sent to China or India and they talk with local businesses or university students, they become quite capable of communicating with others and began learning a variety of things. In that relation, it was pointed out that it is very important to provide "incentives to learn" rather than "pressuring people to learn." On a different note, it was pointed out that Japan needs innovation to be internationally recognized, and that, by enhancing the country's uniqueness, Japan can improve its international status. Also, within the context of internationalization, the opinion was put forward that it is necessary to learn not only English but also the local language, as it was indicated that learning a second foreign language is necessary in some markets.

As for the third focal point of "(human resource) training environment," the example was presented of a business sending an employee to university in the USA to obtain an MBA and, often as the case may be, when returning to Japan, the employee does not receive any special treatment. From that, the opinion was shared that, if deliberately sending human resources for training, then it is necessary to treat them accordingly and assign them to a post where they can apply their MBA experience. It was pointed out that, to propel people to the top, it is very important within the business to differentiate amongst people to some degree.

Lastly, it was pointed out that Japan's inability to get itself out of the economic slump and the fact that internationalization is not advancing within the country are issues affecting all of Japanese society and the result of an education system that stresses equality and subsequently has created a "society that is not competitive." The country has not gone as far as to introduce discriminatory wage structures that treat highly talented persons differently or hire engineers and managers from overseas, but the need to start considering these approaches was discussed.

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