On August 26, 2019, SPICE/FSI served as the Stanford University host of the California-Japan Governors’ Symposium, which was co-hosted by the U.S.-Japan Council (USJC) and the Silicon Valley Japan Platform (SVJP). Four governors and one vice governor from Japan were in attendance along with dignitaries from California.
Dignitaries from Japan
Mr. Katsusada Hirose, Oita Prefecture Governor
Mr. Ryuta Ibaragi, Okayama Prefecture Governor
Dr. Heita Kawakatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture Governor
Mr. Yutaka Ota, Nagano Prefecture Vice Governor
Mr. Hidehiko Yuzaki, Hiroshima Prefecture Governor
Dignitaries from California
Ms. Eleni Kounalakis, California State Lieutenant Governor
Mr. John Roos, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Mr. Tomochika Uyama, Consul General of Japan in San Francisco
The goal of the Symposium was to create an opportunity for leaders from Silicon Valley and Japan to come together, reinforce relationships, consider new ways of thinking, initiate dialogue, and catalyze outcomes that benefit both the United States and Japan. USJC President Irene Hirano, California State Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis, and Ambassador Roos set the context for the Symposium by highlighting the interdependence of Japan and California broadly—and Silicon Valley specifically—historically, economically, and socially.
The Symposium featured one panel and two sessions. First, Stanford Emeritus Professor, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Co-Founder, and Co-Chair of the SVJP Executive Committee Dr. Daniel Okimoto moderated a panel that featured the governors and the vice governor sharing some of the challenges and opportunities in their prefectures with a special focus on their prefectures’ relationship with Silicon Valley and institutions of higher learning like Stanford. Second, SPICE Director Dr. Gary Mukai moderated an education-focused session that explored issues at the intersection of education and global citizenship. SKY LABO Co-Founder Dr. Rie Kijima and SKY LABO Co-Founder and SPICE Instructor Dr. Mariko Yoshihara Yang spoke about their work in fostering the next generation of innovative human resources in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education with special attention to girls’ and women’s education. They were followed by Governors Hirose, Ibaragi, and Yuzaki, who shared education-related priorities and concerns in their prefectures, e.g., declining school enrollment especially in rural areas, low numbers of Japanese students choosing to study abroad, and empowering Japanese students with global points of view. Third, Dr. Devang Thakor moderated a healthcare-focused session. Stanford Associate Professor Phillip Yang, a cardiologist, and Dr. Caleb Bell, G4S Capital and Ikigai Accelerator, shared comments on the application of AI and machine learning to medical diagnosis and treatment. Also in the session, Governor Kawakatsu and Vice Governor Ota shared reflections on health-related topics such as aging societies, the rising cost of healthcare, and prevention and wellness.
In his closing comments, Okimoto noted that he hopes to convene another symposium with the governors from Japan in three to five years. The goal of the symposium would be to share and discuss the progress that has been made since last month’s gathering.
Over the next three to five years, SPICE plans to do its part—in at least five areas—in terms of building upon the discussion from the education-focused session. First, later this month, Mukai will be offering the first class of Stanford e-Oita, an online class on U.S. society and culture that SPICE will offer to high school students in Oita this fall. Second, Rylan Sekiguchi, Instructor of Stanford e-Hiroshima, will begin instruction from this fall of an online class on U.S. society and culture that SPICE will offer to high school students in Hiroshima. Third, Yang will be visiting Hiroshima in November to meet Governor Yuzaki as well as to offer the final class of the Stanford-Hiroshima Collaboration Program, which will be offered to MBA students at the Prefectural University of Hiroshima and other universities also from this fall. Fourth, SPICE will continue to assist Okayama Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture on their educational efforts in areas like sister city school programs and engaging their students in Stanford e-Japan, a national online class that SPICE offers to high school students throughout Japan. Stanford e-Japan is taught by Waka Takahashi Brown and Meiko Kotani. Fifth, SVJP Executive Director Kenta Takamori and Mukai recently shared reflections on the Symposium and their work with the prefectures on NBC Bay Area. They hope to continue to inform the broader Silicon Valley community of the outcomes of the Symposium.