Japan New Economy Summit: Recommendations for Japan



This is part of our coverage of the Japan New Economy Summit happening in Tokyo. See previous updates here.

Participants in the sixth and final session of the day, ‘Recommendations for Japan’, are as follows:

  • Hiroshi Mikitani (Chairman & CEO, Rakuten Inc.)
  • Yasufumi Kanemaru (CEO, Future Architect, Inc.)
  • Masatoshi Kumagai (Founder & Group CEO, GMO Internet Group)
  • Susumu Fujita (President, CyberAgent, Inc)
  • Atsuki Ishida (President and CEO, FreeBit Co., Ltd.)
  • Joichi Ito (Director, MIT Media Lab)
  • Niklas Zennström (CEO, Atomico / Co-Founder, Skype)
  • Phil Libin (CEO, Evernote cooperation)
  • Daisuke Iwase(Co-Founder / Representative Director, Lifenet Insurance Company)

18:34 – Mikitani: The internet is a key to creating disruptive innovation in society. In Japan there are a lot of regulations in place and we need to overcome this.

18:36 – Niklas: If you think about software, you might as well do it for the global market. Doing things abroad can be difficult, different. The first time I came to Japan I was very nervous, I didn’t know how to behave, you need to learn languages and travel.

18:37 – Phil: Althelete who train to be great have to look at the things they aren’t good at and try to improve. But you also have to look at the things you are good at. [Regarding Japan] I think the country has a great culture of design, and it is becoming the most important thing for successful products. Japan is also great at service, there are many great companies who have become great because of customer service. Lastly, attention to detail, and making everything perfect. Making everything better. These three things together, I think are Japan’s unique strenths which it can invest more in — even more important that investing on strengthening its weaknesses.

18:40 – Joi: In Japan its not about taking risks, but about taking the stable road. Entrepreneurs want to take the risk automatically. But in Japan there is the view that taking risk is not respected. And having the passion is not praised here in Japan. In Japan you get a good job in a good company, and you will have a good future.

18:43 – Niklas: After the dot com crash no one wanted to go back to entrepreneurship, but recently there’s a return to that spirit. I have had many headlines in Sweden about me being involved in products that don’t work, but this is part of being an entrepreneur.

18:45 – Phil: I think in every culture there are many people who want to change the world. And in the past that was limited to people in art, music, or science. But these days, you can still change the world by being an entrepreneur.

18:47 – Kanemaru: I would say that middle risk, middle return is maybe prevalent on the east coast of the US, and maybe that’s the same here in Japan. … My impressions from today is that we can’t just blame the business environment, but much of it is in our heads, and about how we act — about people trying to change the world for the better, I think that mindset is important.

18:52 – Kanemaru shows a keyboard mat in a Denmark elementary school, which kids jump on — but eventually they get familiar with a keybaord layout, very early in life.

18:56 – Kumagai: My impression of the past two days is that we can rediscover Japan’s strengths. We have good design capabilities for example. Regarding the tax system, I’m not sure if I can be accurate on this topic, but we focused a lot on fundraising before. Overall it is really hard to raise funds in Japan … funding should be smoother.

19:01 – Joi speaking of foundation work in the US (Knight, MacArthur). In the US foundations can invest in civic startups, or startups that benefit society. We don’t really have this term ‘civics’ in Japan, and I think that’s very symbolic.

19:04 – Fujita: This summit has been a dream of Mr. Mikitani since we established JANE and I think it has been successful. Yesterday Prime Minister Abe came, and we met him twice yesterday. How can government support entrepreneurship? The public has to know they are supporting about it. … With PM Abe, there is a new monetary policy and a strong message of support for entrepreneurs. But we need to see actions, such as changes in policies. Startups bring new ideas, new hires. As a CEO we say that we will do hackathons and new ideas, and we have places like Silicon Valley where the culture nourtures such ideas. … The government should act upon their messages, so for example making an entrepreneurship center for Asia in Tokyo, or a place where engineers can be educated, or something like that.

19:09 – Ishida: Entrepreneurs can be very solitary and if you have problems you can’t really whine to your team. But if we have any environment where entrepreneurs can come together and feel safe, this would be good. … From my standpoint, I’m on the board of JANE, and we hope to think more broadly, not just IT — but also things like energy. The situation is important and I think entrepreneurship can help. We want to have a broader scope in entrepreneurship so Japan can rise again.