Vice Chairman of the Board of Councillors, Nippon Keidanren
President & CEO, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation
Today the world is struggling to overcome a severe global recession. From a long-term perspective, Japan is one of the first nations to experience an aging population with a declining birthrate. Our country also faces such challenges as healthcare and education, economic dynamism, and revitalizing regional areas. In addition, Japan aims to be the first in the world to achieve a low-carbon revolution.
As many people have pointed out, innovation is the key to overcoming both this economic crisis and these social issues. The world needs innovation that changes social frameworks and the behavioral patterns of individuals and creates new models. What is needed to achieve this kind of innovation?
As national borders and inter-industry barriers are crumbling and various fields are being converged through technological and industrial advancement, we need to go beyond existing boundaries so that people from different industries share their wisdom and stimulate each other's innovative thinking. New business models will be born from this kind of collaboration. Needless to say, research and development on new technology will be key. But linking technology and the market, through, for example, alliances among industry, government, and academia, will be no less important. To do this, it will first be necessary to raise the overall level of human resources. This may sound like an indirect approach, but it is vital. We should improve science education at various levels, including the early years of elementary school, so that people in various positions — liberal arts and other non-science majors as well as science majors — can understand science and technology. That will also help us develop human resources that can spearhead advanced research and development and technology management.
Some have a negative view of the products and services Japan has developed that are unique to our market. However, Japanese corporations have created new markets, such as those for eco-friendly motor vehicles, convenience stores, and game consoles, by using their strength in both advanced technology and technology application backed by refined levels of perception. If Japanese corporations can accurately assess user needs in nations around the globe, there is no reason they will not be able to lead the world in innovation.
Innovation that will create new economic growth and resolve social issues requires changing conventional products, services, and businesses as well as our work and lifestyle. Economic crises such as the current one are golden opportunities for innovation. As a corporate executive, I am committed to reassessing our company's technologies and businesses from a new perspective and seeking change that will lead to further development.