Stanford e-Japan Spring 2018 Session

This spring, the Stanford Silicon Valley - New Japan Project collaborated with the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) for the spring 2018 session of the Stanford Scholars Program for Japanese High School Students, or Stanford e-Japan

Stanford e-Japan is a distance learning course that enrolls exceptional high schools students from all over Japan to learn about US society and culture and US-Japan relations through topics ranging from the US-Japan alliance and World War II, to SV-NJ research topics including the Silicon Valley ecosystem and its relationship to Japan, and biculturalism and the Japanese.

The course is taught in English, and is designed to create globally minded individuals by putting emphasis on developing critical thinking skills, discussion skills, and researching and writing skills through discussion based virtual classes and reading and writing intensive homework assignments with individual instructor feedback.

 Virtual classroom on Silicon Valley and Entrepreneurship

Virtual classroom on Silicon Valley and Entrepreneurship

For students, e-Japan is a valuable opportunity not only to learn about new subject matters, but also to engage with different perspectives on topics that they might already be familiar with. For example, most students were shocked to learn about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, a topic that is seldom taught in Japanese high school curriculums, as well as the complexity and strategic reasoning behind America’s decision to drop the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a historical event that students had mostly only learnt about from the perspective of Japan. Shocked to learn that a majority of Americans still agreed that the use of the atomic bombs on Japanese cities in 1945 was justified, but a number which had also interestingly enough declined, one student conducted an ambitious research project asking both students in the US and Japan to reflect on their education about World War II and their opinions about the atomic bombings, and analyzed how World War II was taught in US high schools versus Japanese high schools.

 Before class, students watch video lectures recorded by Stanford scholars, and complete written assignments

Before class, students watch video lectures recorded by Stanford scholars, and complete written assignments

While the course afforded students the opportunity to interact with scholars affiliated with Stanford University and other institutions as well as high school students in the US, many students reflected that the opportunity to openly discuss issues with their peers was also invaluable. The group itself was quite diverse, with differing backgrounds and experiences, and representing 13 different prefectures in Japan. Unsurprisingly, perspectives on issues often differed amongst the group. Throughout the course, students learned how to have constructive discussions, how to respectfully disagree, and how to support and make effective arguments. Group activities in class also challenged students to practice problem solving in groups.

Concurrent with the Internet-based course, students also developed individual research projects. Students identified research questions, and learned how to find and utilize reliable sources to construct arguments. Students were required to write research papers as well as present on their topics at their high schools.

 Sakurako Nyudo presenting on the US-Japan relationship at her high school.
 Naoya Chonan presenting on implementing the flipped learning model in Japanese high schools.

Three students with the best final research papers will be selected to present their research at Stanford University in August 2019.

A special thank you to our collaborators, the Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE), and Elin Matsumae, SV-NJ research assistant, for her efforts in orchestrating the course.

Break Through: Women in Silicon Valley, Womenomics in Japan Conference

On August 9th the Stanford Silicon Valley-New Japan Project hosted the “Break Through: Women in Silicon Valley, Womenomics in Japan” conference. This conference was the second installment of a conference around issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace in Silicon Valley and in Japan. 

This year’s conference featured an all-female speaker list, and was focused on empowering women to build networks and skills and to receive inspiration. Our speakers spoke candidly about the challenges that women face in the workplace, and about the progress that has been made. 


For the first talk of the day, we were joined by Chief People Officer of Zymergen, Judy Gilbert. Zymergen, an Emeryville-based company that uses information technology to engineer microbes, has been praised in the media by publications such as Vanity Fair for its inclusive hiring practices that have led to the recruitment of more women technologists. Gilbert spoke about the importance of building teams that are both diverse and inclusive and how Zymergen has managed to recruit and retain talent by focusing on the entire lifecycle—from building a culture, to attracting talent, to developing that talent, and challenging that talent. 

Yuko Osaki, who is the Senior Planning Officer to the Promotion Division at the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office, spoke next about the challenges that the Japanese government still faces in terms of furthering labor force participation of women and helping these women succeed in their careers. Japan is still quite behind in terms of gender equality, receiving the worst gender equity ranking of the seven major world economies last year at 114th. However, the Japanese government has made deliberate steps to try to bridge this gap with the implementation of policies to expand child care and free educations services, and encouraging political parties to work to increase the number of female candidates. Osaki also spoke about the influence of ESG investing, and the impact that the adoption of the MSCI empowering women index in company has had in promoting women’s advancement in the workplace. 

Our two fireside chats featured a conversation between CEO of Jasperi Consulting Frances Colón and Chief Technology Officer of Nest, Yoky Matsuoka, and a conversation between Assistant Manager of the Mitsubishi Corporation’s Silicon Valley branch Haruko Sasamoto, and Claire Chino, President and CEO of Itochu International Inc.


Although Matsuoka has had much success in a career that has been marked by large transitions, she revealed that fear and finding the techniques to confront it have been a large part of her success story, and that finding work-life balance isn’t something that has come naturally. Matsuoka also talked about the different ways in which impactful work and innovation are achieved in startup settings versus at tech giants. 

The value of mentorship and role models was a key theme that emerged from the second fireside chat. Chino revealed that there have been several key persons in her life who have inspired her and challenged her, but her role model is not one super person, but rather a non-existent person that is the amalgamation of inspiring qualities that she sees in various different people. She also discussed how Itochu, as a large, well-established Japanese firm has responded to disruptive innovations in the industry, and the new policies that the company has implemented in order to create a corporate culture that boosts efficiency and productivity, as well as being more friendly for women and employees with families. 

In the afternoon, we showcased 9 innovative startups founded by women entrepreneurs in Japan and Silicon Valley. 

The first group of startups were founded by Japanese women entrepreneurs participating in the Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women (APT), a women-focused acceleration program for women entrepreneurs run by the Tokyo Metropolitan government and Tohmatsu Venture Support. The startups showcased were: Aglobe Co., an online platform that connects Japanese SMEs to overseas buyers founded by Osami Ogai; high-end Ethiopian sheepskin leather brand, Andu Amet founded by Hiroko Samejima; Beautiful Smile, a company that is working to eliminate food waste by allowing manufacturers to sell nonstandard food products founded by Mitsuki Bun; handmade knitting brand that helps to promote the work of senior citizens and housewives, Beyondthereef founded by Kae Kusunoki; and online crafts workshop discovery platform, Craftie, founded by Yonggum Kang. 

We then showcased four Silicon Valley startups: social music streaming platform Playlist founded by Karen Katz; the Reach Mama Network that creates opportunities and development for moms of color, founded by Karina Cabrera Bell; non-profit education social venture focused on girls' education in STEAM fields, SKY LABO, founded by Rie Kijima; and longitudinal preventative health platform for tracking developmental delays, BabyNoggin, founded by Jin Lee. 

Conference participants concluded the day by engaging in a participatory exercise facilitated by co-founder and chief creative officer at San Francisco-based digital agency SocioFabrica, Sylvia Vaquer. This exercise was designed to help attendees identify and leverage their personal brands to effectively lead and get results. Using Design Thinking as a framework, attendees worked to identify personal strengths, skills, and unique differentiators and find strategies to effectively communicate these and leverage them in the work environment. 


A huge thank you to the Acceleration Program in Tokyo for Women (APT) organized by Tohmatsu Venture Support and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for their support, and thank you to our speakers and our conference attendees. A longer conference report is forthcoming. 


See more photos of the day: 

Silicon Valley - New Japan Summit 2018 Tokyo

On June 21, the Silicon Valley-New Japan Project and Ishin co-hosted the Silicon Valley-New Japan Summit 2018 Tokyo. 

This event featured panels on Silicon Valley disruptions, CVC, global innovation strategies, and strategies for collaborating with overseas startups. 

For more information and pictures from the Silicon Valley - New Japan Summit 2018 Tokyo click here


SAVE THE DATE For our Upcoming summit at stanford:

November 5-6, 2018
Silicon Valley - New Japan Summit 2018 (Silicon Valley)
Stanford University

details forthcoming

G1 New Generation Summit 2018

Last month, Kenji Kushida and APARC Researcher, Professor Philip Lipscy were invited to participate in the G1 New Generation Summit in Karuizawa. 

Kenji Kushida participated in a panel called "Japan's Future made by G1 U-40: 100 Actions for a better Japan 2.0" featuring Japanese politician, Fumiaki Kobayashi, President of NPO Florence, Hiroki Komazaki, and Chizuru Suga from the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. 

Nikkei Agritech Summit 2018

Last month, Kenji Kushida was invited to speak at the Nikkei Agritech Summit (AG/SUM) in Tokyo. Kushida participated in three panels: "Global agriculture environment: what are the necessary conditions for an agritech unicorn?", "Singularity of medicine and agriculture: Food and agriculture seen from the perspective of regenerative medicine", and moderated a panel titled "Agriculture of Future: The Startup Perspective."

Full agenda in English available here.

New Abenomics Chapter in "Japan Decides 2017: The Japanese General Election"

In a new chapter now available in the book,  "Japan Decides 2017: The Japanese General Election", Kenji Kushida evaluates the Abenomics Third Arrow from a Silicon Valley perspective. 

Table of Contents available below.


Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction
1. Introduction, by Robert J. Pekkanen, Steven R. Reed, Ethan Scheiner and Daniel M. Smith
2. Japanese Politics Between 2014 and 2017: The Search for an Opposition Party in the Age of Abe, by Robert J. Pekkanen and Steven R. Reed
3. The 2017 Election Results: An Earthquake, a Typhoon, and another Landslide, by Ethan Scheiner, Daniel M. Smith and Michael F. Thies

Part II. Political Parties
4. Komeito 2017: New Complications, by Axel Klein and Levi McLaughlin
5. The Opposition: From Third Party Back to Third Force, by Robert J. Pekkanen and Steven R. Reed
6. The JCP: A Perpetual Spoiler?, by Ko Maeda

Part III. Campaign and Issues
7. Scandals during the Abe Administrations, by Matthew Carlson and Steve R. Reed
8. Public Opinion and the Abe Cabinet: Alternating Valence and Position Issues, by Yukio Maeda
9. Survey of Candidates' Policy Preferences, by Kiichiro Arai and Miwa Nakajo
10. Party Competition and the Electoral Rules, by Kuniaki Nemoto
11. Persistence of Women's Under-representation, by Mari Miura
12. Does Japan want to Build a Wall Too? Immigration and the 2017 General Election in Japan, by Michael Strausz
13. Inequality and the 2017 Election: Decreasing Dominance of Abenomics and Regional Revitalization, by David Chiavacci
14. The First Two Arrows of Abenomincs: Monetary and Fiscal Politics in the 2017 Snap Election, by Saori Katada and Gabrielle Cheung
15. Abenomics Third Arrow: Fostering Competitiveness?, by Kenji E. Kushida
16. Constitutional Revision in the 2017 Election, by Kenneth Mori McElwain
17. The North Korea Factor in the 2017 Election, by Yasushi Izumikawa
18. Foreign Policy, by Sheila Smith

New Interview Article on NewsPicks

In a new interview piece by NewsPicks, Kenji Kushida talks about the history of Stanford University and its surrounding area, and how it has become a birthplace of innovation. Speaking as an insider, Kushida discusses some of the lesser known historical developments and connections that have positioned Stanford as a core player in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. 

Access the full article here (in Japanese) 

Marketcraft: How Governments Make Markets Work

On May 7, the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Japan Program welcomed Professor Steven K Vogel to speak about his new book, Marketcraft: How Governments Make Markets Work

Modern-day markets do not arise spontaneously or evolve naturally. Rather they are crafted by individuals, firms, and most of all, by governments. Thus "marketcraft" represents a core function of government comparable to statecraft and requires considerable artistry to govern markets effectively. Just as real-world statecraft can be masterful or muddled, so it is with marketcraft. 

In this new book, Steven Vogel builds his argument upon the recognition that all markets are crafted then systematically explores the implications for analysis and policy. In modern societies, there is no such thing as a free market. Markets are institutions, and contemporary markets are all heavily regulated. The "free market revolution" that began in the 1980s did not see a deregulation of markets, but rather a re-regulation. Vogel looks at a wide range of policy issues to support this concept, focusing in particular on the US and Japan. He examines how the US, the "freest" market economy, is actually among the most heavily regulated advanced economies, while Japan's effort to liberalize its economy counterintuitively expanded the government's role in practice. 

Marketcraft demonstrates that market institutions need government to function, and in increasingly complex economies, governance itself must feature equally complex policy tools if it is to meet the task. In our era-and despite what anti-government ideologues contend-governmental officials, regardless of party affiliation, should be trained in marketcraft just as much as in statecraft.

Watch the 15 minute introduction to this new book below: 


About Speaker:

Steven K. Vogel is the Il Han New Professor of Asian Studies and a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in the political economy of the advanced industrialized nations, especially Japan. He recently completed a book, entitled Marketcraft: How Governments Make Markets Work (Oxford, 2018), which argues that markets do not arise spontaneously but rather are crafted by individuals, firms, and most of all by governments.  Thus “marketcraft” represents a core function of government comparable to statecraft.  The book systematically reviews the implications of this argument, critiquing prevalent schools of thought and presenting lessons for policy.  Vogel is also the author of Japan Remodeled: How Government and Industry Are Reforming Japanese Capitalism (Cornell, 2006) and co-editor (with Naazneen Barma) of The Political Economy Reader: Markets as Institutions (Routledge, 2008). His first book, Freer Markets, More Rules: Regulatory Reform in Advanced Industrial Countries  (Cornell, 1996), won the Masayoshi Ohira Memorial Prize. He edited his mother’s book, Suzanne Hall Vogel, The Japanese Family in Transition: From the Professional Housewife Ideal to the Dilemmas of Choice(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), and a volume on U.S.-Japan Relations in a Changing World(Brookings, 2002).  He won the Northern California Association of Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Excellence Award in 2002, and the UC Berkeley Faculty Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Student Instructors in 2005.  He has been a columnist for Newsweek-Japan and the Asahi Shimbun, and he has written extensively for the popular press.  He has worked as a reporter for the Japan Times in Tokyo and as a freelance journalist in France. He has taught previously at the University of California, Irvine and Harvard University. He has a B.A. from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kenji Kushida Seminar at Hitotsubashi Hall

On April 24, Kenji Kushida gave a talk on Silicon Valley, the Algorithmic Revolution and the "worst practices" to harness Silicon Valley by large Japanese companies, and some good examples of successful efforts such as Komatsu, Honda, Yamaha, and a few others. The seminar was orchestrated by the Canon Institute for Global Studies, and held at the Hitotsubashi Hall in Takebashi. 

JETRO recently published a write-up of the event available here.

New Interview Piece with Musashi Sakai Driving School President, Aki Takahashi

Work reform has been a topic of interest in Japan recently. In the first installment of a New Nikkei BP Series investigating topics relating to personnel recruitment, development, and the value of work by Musashi Sakai Driving School President, Aki Takahashi, Kenji Kushida was interviewed about varieties of how to work and productivity improvement. 

See full article here 

SVJP Benkyokai: Japan's New Startup Ecosystem and Large Corporate Innovation: Why Japan (still) Matters in Global Competition

On March 7th, Kenji Kushida spoke at the Silicon Valley Japan Platform Benkyokai meeting on "Japan's New Startup Ecosystem and Large Corporate Innovation: Why Japan (still) Matters in Global Competition." The session was moderated by Steve Suda, Managing Director of the Office of Development at Stanford University. 

New SVNJ Policy Evaluation Working Paper

In our newest SVNJ Working Paper, "Abenomics and Japan's Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Is the Third Arrow Pointed in the Right Direction for Global Competition in the Digital Era of Silicon Valley?" Kenji Kushida evaluates the efficacy of Abenomics’ third arrow of comprehensive economic structural reform towards leading Japan to compete in an era dominated by Silicon Valley firms.

As Japan's political economy evolves over time, a critical question is whether or not it is adjusting effectively to the dynamics of global competition. While Japan has historically shifted from its status as one of many countries aiming to catch-up to global leaders to becoming a leader in many areas of global competition, recently global leadership has shifted to the economic ecosystem of Silicon Valley. In the past couple decades, global value creation has been driven by the Silicon Valley model - not only a geographic region but a distinct ecosystem of complementary characteristics. 

Since assuming power, the Abe administration has put forth a well branded and enthusiastically promoted economic reform package, "Abenomics" consisting of three arrows. The third arrow in particular, was a comprehensive reform strategy that recognized Japan's need to restructure many aspects of its economy to compete in the current digital, globalized era. Policy evaluation is one of the pillars of the Silicon Valley-New Japan Project, and this new paper seeks to evaluate whether third arrow reforms move Japan closer to a Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship and innovation.  

Read full paper here

Technology and Labor Market Disruption: Discussing Danish Perspectives with Silicon Valley and Asian Country Input

On Monday, March 5th, the Stanford Silicon Valley-New Japan Project hosted the Danish Minister of Employment, Troels Lund Poulsen, and top Danish labor union representatives for a small closed group discussion about labor disruption in the digital era. 

The Danish government is currently working on a year long project on the future of work. The question of how technology can change the labour market is prominent in the political and policy discussions. The Danish government has set up a "disruption" council to handle these issues and specify policies to meet the challenges.

The Danish government has had a strong tradition of working with labor unions and businesses to face new economic challenges. During this session, the Minister and Labor Leader each spoke about labor disruption in the Danish context, and discussed Denmark's efforts to effectively implement technologies and embrace the future in a way that is inclusive of everyone.   

The acceptance of new technologies and the ways in which they are implemented varies greatly from country to country. APARC faculty and members of the audience offered similar as well as differing viewpoints from Silicon Valley and from Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan. 

Several major themes to emerge from this conversation were: labor replacement vs. labor augmentation, structuring and implementing lifelong learning, and implementing new social welfare systems for a future with vastly different employment structures. 

New Columns Published by the Canon Institute for Global Studies

Two new columns by Kenji Kushida were published by the Canon Institute for Global Studies this month. Please click the links below to access the articles (available in Japanese only). 

RegTech (レグテック)の大いなるポテンシャル:"Weapons of Math Destruction" の落とし穴を避けて (RegTech's Great Potential while Avoiding the "Weapons of Math Destruction" pitfall")

AI浸透についての考え方のフレームワーク:日本にとってどこが高付加価値となるのか (A Framework for Thinking of AI Diffusion: In search of high value added for Japan)

Kenji Kushida leads Seminar on Disruption by AI

On December 19, Kenji Kushida led a seminar at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, on AI disruption and the fine line between true disruptive innovation and illusion. 

AI has been gaining attention for some time now. AI is a catalyst for a bigger algorithmic revolution, and it is clear that genuine AI incorporated into various services and companies will disrupt existing industry and work as we know it. At the same time, the buzz around AI has created an environment in which information analysis will not sell unless it is labelled as AI, leading to concerns that the current AI boom might be superficial. 

How do we differentiate true disruptive innovation versus superficial, excessive expectations, and how do we implement solutions in a way that optimizes and increases value, without causing destructive consequences?  

For more information on the seminar please click here

Stanford Silicon Valley-New Japan Project 2017 Year End Report

The Stanford Silicon Valley-New Japan Project had another productive year of activity and growth. This year, we were able to facilitate substantial research, conduct new and ongoing joint research collaborations, and organize several large scale conferences, and other outreach activities. 

We sincerely thank all of our supporters for helping make this a great year, and we look forward to sharing another successful year with you in 2018. 

Happy Holidays and a have a wonderful new year! 

Full Stanford SVNJ 2017 Year End Report (PDF)

Human Autonomy in the Age of Automation: Envisioning 2045 Final Report

On November 3, the Stanford Silicon Valley-New Japan Project hosted “Human Autonomy in the Age of Automation: Envisioning 2045” at Stanford University. The event was produced jointly with Japanese venture community, Mistletoe Inc. We invited thought leaders, technologists and social entrepreneurs to discuss the replacement of human labor by artificial intelligence and robotics, and what this shift might mean for the future of human welfare and economic opportunity. We also revealed our new joint collaboration with Mistletoe In., The Mistletoe Foundation, and its inaugural program, the Mistletoe Research Fellowship Program. 

Human Autonomy in the Age of Automation Final Report (PDF)