Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

ryu_thumb.jpgRyu Murakami is one of Neoteny's advisory board members, the author of "Coin Locker Babies" and won the Akutagawa award for "Almost Transparent Blue". He visited our office today. In "In Coin Locker Babies" he wrote about two boys who are abandoned in coin lockers and grow up and gassed Tokyo. (This is before the Ohm Shinrikyo subway event.) His last book "Exodus in the Hopeful Country" is about junior high school students who help cause a revolution in Japan with the help of the Internet. We talked quite a bit before he wrote this book and that discussion along with his discussions with other people before he wrote the book also became a book...
Internal Exodus
Novelist Murakami Ryu sees a dim future

The year is 2001. A CNN news crew in northern Pakistan finds a Japanese teenager in the midst of a band of Muslim guerrillas. In a TV interview, he declares: "There is nothing in Japan. It is a dead country." His words strike a chord with Japanese children his age. Across the country, middle-schoolers stop attending classes. They organize across the Internet, form a video image distribution agency named Asunaro that beams their message across the world, and start a variety of new businesses. Summoned to Parliament, the youngsters' leader tells stunned adults that Japan has everything but hope. Meanwhile, the yen collapses and the nation slips to the brink of bankruptcy. Asunaro moves to the northern island of Hokkaido where the kids establish an independent state.

One of the leaders is named "Joichi". ;-) So we talked a bit about his NEXT book. Stay tuned. It should be good.

Neeraj is my only buddy so far...
AOL-Docomo the Japanese joint venture between Docomo and AOL Japan asked Neeraj of imaHima to make a Java aplet for the new Java enabled i-mode phones that allows you to use Aol Instant Messenger on your phone. They launched it last week. It's great! You can have multiple conversations at once and it is integrated with the PC based IM. I think this is a first. (There are many IM for messaging between phones.) The only thing that sucks is that you have to sign up for AOL's service any pay a monthly fee to use it. It took me almost 30 minutes on the phone to sign up...

I'm testing a photo album blog... Thanks for your help Justin and Hirata.

I was talking to a fairly well known CEO of a securities firm. He told me that the Nikkei would hit the 8000 range last year. Today he said that he thought foreign investors were going to dump Japanese stocks and that it might hit 6000 in the next 3 months and that it would probably most definitely hit 7000. He said that the branch manager of a fairly large branch of Nomura Securities told him that 10 of his top 20 accounts recently liquidated ALL of their equity holdings. He also said that many of the major banks would probably soon come under government protection/control through the Bank of Japan. Argentina, here we come!

This is the "young" group of the Association of Corporate Executives which is probably the most prestigious association of CEO's in Japan.

We started out talking about the rights of women. One of the men said that all of the women he asked didn't want a career and that it was just a few professional women who were trying to push their agenda. I said that it was like the abducted Japanese in North Korea saying that they didn't want to go back to Japan. They either didn't know better or they didn't want to say... I remember when Shima-san, the former chairman of NHK was told that most people in the company didn't like him. He went around asking people if they liked him and everyone said, "yes". He told me, "so obviously the survey is wrong."

We're talking about the ageing population problem in Japan. Taxes in Japan for inheritence are very high and crush families. Someone mentioned that monogamy from the view of some women is a system that allows weak men to get their fair distribution of women and don't give women enough choice. The idea is that maybe women should be free to choose who they get their seed from and that society should support all children. Japan has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. If Japan culturally accepted divorce or single women and allowed them to have children and society helped support this, maybe the people would have more kids.

I told everyone that someone who was visiting from the US asked me if Mizuka and I were planning to have kids. When I said, "not yet," she said to Mizuka, "you know you can have kids without his approval. I have some left in my freezer if you want any."

Interesting thoughts, but probably not something the elders of the Association of Corporate Executives would understand.