About Kiyoshi Kurokawa

Kiyoshi Kurokawa

Kiyoshi Kurokawa is a physician as well as a Professor at Graduate Research Institute for Policy Sciences. He focused on innovation policy around science, technology, innovation, and health. He has also served as a professor at UCLA from 1979 to 1984 and the University of Tokyo from 1989 to 1996, and served as Dean immediately thereafter until 2002.

He has served on the Presidents of Science Council of Japan, the International Society of Nephrology, the Japan Society of Medicine, and the Japan Society of Nephrology. Kiyoshi was also a Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet from 2006 to 2008.

Latest Posts by Kiyoshi Kurokawa

MIT Media Lab in Tokyo

January 22, 2012 by  


MIT Media Lab is well known throughout the world and in Japan as a quite “obstinate” existence in that it aims to “Build the Future”.  The existence of this Lab is well recognized by the world for this unique character.

It was last year that Mr. Joi Ito, a Japanese, but rather more popular as a “global citizen”, was appointed to be the director of the Media Lab, and this attracted people’s attentions in Japan through the coverage by various medias.

I, too, introduced this topic on my web site.

On January 17th, the “MIT Media Lab@Tokyo 2012” was held in Tokyo.  Dr. Negroponte, the founder of the Media Lab in 1985, also joined in this event to tell us the history of how the Japanese companies supported Media Lab.  Dr. Negroponte is also well known for the project “One Laptop Per Child”, an aid to Africa, and this time he showed me a new “Tablet” .

A prestigious university working on “outrageous, unprecedented” projects.  Such universities are, I think, the drive force for developing human capital that will transform the world.  Those universities are the producers of the “Out of the Box” talent, the “Change Makers”.

Dr. Ishii, the associate director, also joined with us in this event.

All speakers very passionately delivered their speech and presented their demonstrations.  I participated in the dialogue with Joi.  Then, I went back to my work at the Congressional Investigation Committee on Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident, and returned again in the evening to join in the reception of the Media Lab which I enjoyed very much.

This whole event is uploaded on Ustream. The video starts with the Opening by Joi (the approximate time in the Ustream is “00:00:00–”), followed by the presentations of Dr. Hilgado “00:23:20–” Dr. Ishii “00:45:55–”, dialogue of Joi and myself “01:00:50–”, panel of Joi with “Out of the Box” people in major Japanese corporations “01:22:45–” and so on.  Take a look and enjoy.

Why don’t you go to the Media Lab?  Something inside you might change.  I also urge all Japanese companies to support this extraordinary Lab.

Committee of Parliament to Investigate Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident

January 4, 2012 by  


The “Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants” was launched officially on December 8th last year.  Recently, nine committee members and I received the official notice of appointment at the Parliament from the Presidents of both the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors. This ceremony was followed by a session where the ten committee members made comments and representatives from all political parties expressed their thoughts and expectations towards this committee.

This whole event was broadcasted live from the Parliament and now the audiovisual record of all the comments of the committee members as well as all the requests from the members of the congress are uploaded at the  “Shugiin TV” for public viewing.  My comments as the chair of this committee appears at the start of this session, and also in the end after all representatives from every political party have presented their “requests” to our committee.  By the way, it happens that 70 years ago on this day, the 8th of December, the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor to join in the World War II.   It was truly the beginning of the great tragedy of our nation.  I could not help touching upon this historical coincidence when I talked about the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a representative of the Liberal Democratic Party who served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, and one of the key persons to set up this committee, writes about this issue in his blog several times.  Mr. Shiozaki also wrote a record of the whole process of the making of this committee and published it as a book in mid December titled “ ‘The Committee of Parliament to Investigate the Accident of the Nuclear Power Plants’ – A Challenge From the Legislature (「国会原発事故調査委員会」立法府からの挑戦状)” (this book is published in Japanese only).


Bilateral Exchange with Botswana

November 11, 2011 by  


I had the opportunity at the beginning of last year to visit Botswana at the request of the Botswana government to meet high-level government representatives of many different ministries.  I also had the opportunity to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs who accepted a report on science, technology and innovation policies which I proposed at the time and had accompanied the President on his recent visit to Japan.

During this current visit, Dr. Ponatshego H. Kedikilwe, a Minister with the Botswanan government received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun and a reception was held in his honor by the Botswana embassy.

During the Minister’s stay in Japan, I was able to meet with heads of different government bureaus and had accompanied the Minister to Japan. My proposal of the previous year had made its way through the Parliament, and they reported on its passage and we also talked about what the future holds. It is also important that cooperation be offered from a variety of perspectives including outside of the auspices of the government.  This is particularly true in the modern world we live in.

Japan has started to actively provide assistance and support to Africa.  In particular, the cooperation of JICA, which is in charge of ODA, and JST, which is in charge of science and technology policies, over the past several years is encouraging. The exchange of human resources through multiple different levels and venues is at the core of a strong and vital foreign policy in our global world of today.


The United Nations University: Higher Education and Sustainable Development in Africa

October 24, 2011 by  


In case you haven’t heard of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of UN, it is an ambitious goal which the member nations of the UN promised to achieve by 2015.  However, the situation has changed drastically in the last ten years and now the world is shifting to a very different stage from the 2000’s, the time when the MDGs were planned by the UN.

Given this background, ”International Symposium on the Role of Higher Education for Sustainable Development in Africa” was held at the United Nations University in Aoyama, Tokyo, on October 13th and 14th.

I have been working on this theme with the world’s science community (ICSU, IAP, IAC, etc.) (in Japanese) personally and through various organizations such as the Science Council of Japan (in Japanese), the government of Japan, the United Nation’s University (in Japanese), and the World Bank.  Perhaps partly because they knew this, they invited me to give a Keynote lecture.

By coincidence, Dr Miriam Were, the laureate of the Hideyo Noguchi African Prize (Ref.1) was in Japan and planned to visit me on that same day of recording, so I asked her to join in the video.  It was a nice, unexpected, great “Surprise” to the audience of the UNU Symposium.  Thanks to Professor Masafumi Nagao and their team for making this happen. A report on this Symposium posted on the web site of the UNU.

Japan’s Okinawa ‘AYDPO’ Connects Asian Youth

September 14, 2011 by  


The “Asian Youth Exchange Program in Okinawa” was launched 3 years ago in Okinawa Japan.   It is a “Summer Camp” designed for youths of 15 years old or so of Japan and other Asian countries to spend time together in Okinawa for about 3 weeks.

The title of this year’s program (now in its fourth year) was modified to “Asia Youth Development Program in Okinawa (AYDPO) ” as Okinawa jumped on board as the host of the program.  All the participants of the last 3 years and the university students who joined as tutors have stayed connected through Facebook and other social networks.

The programs, diary, photos, works, and the songs they made this year have been uploaded to this site.

Australia: Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach

September 2, 2011 by  



The Sydney Opera House: what is amazing about this Opera House is, that the more you take a close look at it, the more you see how it was built with a vision for the future, and how they integrated plans to materialize the vision – not only within its structural design, but also in the contents and wonderful programs that continue to attract people of the world to this day.  In short, this House has a great “magnetic power” that comes only from something produced with long term perspectives.

I decided to spend rest of my time at Bondi Beach, and had lunch at an Italian restaurant run by a young man from Israel.  By the way, Bondi Beach is also famous for its Life Saving Club as well as the Icebergs.

ADC Forum in Australia’s Hayman Island Discusses Norway Gun Shooting, US Political Climate & Tsunami

August 31, 2011 by  



After Okinawa, I returned to Tokyo to join in the Talent Show, a program which started in the late afternoon on the day before the closing of the Liberal Arts Program for high school students.  The next day, I headed to the Hayman Island on the Great Barrier Reef to participate in the ADC Forum. The event started with the dynamic talk by Nik Gowing of BBC titled “Acute vulnerability for business, governments and systems in the new public information space” with comments on various issues such as the recent demonstrations spreading from the Middle East to London, indiscriminate gun shooting in Norway, political climate in the U.S., and the Tsunami and the nuclear power plant issue of Japan.

I was also on the panel entitled: “Green Growth approaches – any easier now? The reconstruction of Japan”.  One of the participants in this panel was Prof Jean-Pierre Lehman of IMD who is a regular participant of the Davos Meeting and studied under Dr. Masao Maruyama.  I also hosted “Lenses on science – frontiers in the information revolution” with Drs Robert Bishop, John Mattick and Aaron O’Connel who commented respectively on Virtual human brain, the value of the non-coding ‘junk DNA’, and Quantum mechanics.  I opened this session by introducing “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil. Dr O’Conner gave a presentation about this at this year’s TED2011 too.  What are your thoughts about it?  The discussion following his presentation is also uploaded on this web site.

Dialogue with Ikujiro Nonaka

August 1, 2011 by  


Ikujiro Nonaka is one of Japan’s most influential ‘gurus’ on innovation.  He is a highly regarded international scholar and someone I also greatly respect.  Professor Nonaka has written many wonderful books (in Japanese and in English), and among them are some of my favorites.  Included among these books are “The Essence of Defeat”, “The Essence of Innovation”, “The Etiquette of Innovation” and “Virtuous-Based Management”.  His ability to conduct research and analysis, and then find the “essence” of a thing is truly amazing.

Moreover, Professor Nonaka does not just look, in his books and talks, at the analysis and know-how that forms the foundation of the average business school, but rather he strives to delve into the essence of a thing as well as delve into “leadership” and shared philosophy which exposes the humanity at the root of all. Specifically, Professor Nonaka looks at the importance of phronesis as proposed by Aristotle.  He could even be characterized as Japan’s Peter Drucker.  And in reality, he is the First Distinguished Drucker Scholar in Residence at the Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University.

We had previously had some discussions, and we have worked together on various projects in his role as the head of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) Japan Alumni Association and mine as the head of the UCLA Japan Alumni Association (in Japanese).

One of our projects that came to fruition is our dialogue on “Japanese Innovation in the Aftermath of the 3.11 Disaster – What Will It Take?” which was held on July 1st.  This event was well attended by a lively audience.  The event started from 6:30 in the evening and the reception continued on until 10:00 pm.  Unfortunately Professor Nonaka had to leave early because he had to leave for Dalian the next day.

The Hitotsubashi Business Review has recently put out a special feature entitled Thoughts on Ikujiro Nonaka: Frontiers of Knowledge Management (in Japanese) in its Summer Issue.

I started out by setting the tone for the first 30 minutes and reiterated the themes that I have talked about on this site at length.  For example, how both the strengths and the weaknesses of Japan have been laid open to the world in the aftermath of the events of 3.11 (Ref. 1, 2) .

Professor Nonaka has also coauthored a paper The Wise Leader with Hirotaka Takeuchi that was just published in the May issue of the Harvard Business Review.  (Professor Takeuchi launched the Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy at Hitotsubashi University 10 years ago and last year returned to Harvard.)  Anyway we launched into our dialogue for 30 minutes which was followed by a 60-minute Q&A session.  All in all, it was a hugely intellectually stimulating evening.

Professor Nonaka and myself both strongly stressed the importance of, not knowledge, but rather the spirit that one can garner from liberal arts, philosophical and communal values as well as wisdom and experience gained through practical application, actions and evaluations.

At the same time, the July issue of Voice (in Japanese) had a special feature on “The Kan Administration, the Essence of Defeat”, and Professor Nonaka lead off with an article entitled “Non-Reality-Based Politicians are Destroying Our Country”.  Professor Nonaka noted during the talk that sales of his book The Essence of Defeat have jumped since 3.11.

Our dialogue should eventually be available for all to see via video and I will let you all know when it is posted.



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