Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

The picture is from the shoene (Cool Suit) Page.hadasemisleev.jpgYesterday was probably one of the hottest most uncomfortable days I've ever had from a fashion perspective. We were all wearing suits and ties from 9am to 8pm sitting in the same room of a Japanese government building with the themostat set at the official 28 degrees (which is 82 degrees fahrenheit) for government buildings. This energy saving policy is a good thing from a tax paper perspective, but pretty tough for someone like me who isn't used to it. This policy prompted a whole line of energy saving suits. Former Prime Minister Hata is show here on the "cool suit" page with his short sleeve shoene suit which I hear he still wears.

Also, the New York Times reports: The Nation: Pressed for Success; When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Put On Suits

At the meeting yesterday, I complained about the heat as well as the fact that we all were wearing neckties. One of the older men said, "I can't focus without my necktie on." Another guy said, "it doesn't feel like you're working when you don't have a tie on."

Well. TOUGH. I'm wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt today. I'm not tucking my shirt in either. So for those of you people who are offended by my fashion today, too bad!

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Mizuka was eating dinner at Yanai-san's house after her MagLev ride so I went there and borrowed their shower to wash away the Kasumigaseki sweat. Then Mizuka and Makiko-san told me about their ride. They got to go 451 km/hr. Aparently the German MagLev only goes 400km/hr. The Japanese MagLev has gone a max 554 km/hr with someone in it. Anyway, it sounds pretty cool to me. They said that there was a boarding plank like boarding an airplane and the door slid open up. They also said it rattled more than they though it would. On the other hand, it was FAST and FUN. I wish I were there...

The Japan Times Online
Japanese workers least loyal to firms, survey discovers

LONDON (Kyodo) Japanese corporate workers harbor the lowest level of loyalty toward their employers among the world's 10 major economies, according to a British survey released Tuesday.

Only 50 percent of Japanese respondents to the survey, which features the views of 362,950 employees, said they would wish to stay with their current firm or would recommend it as a good place to work.

Researchers attributed the findings to a "Westernization" of Japanese attitudes toward the workplace and the nation's stagnant economy.

Japan's figures rated poorly when compared with the results from Brazil (79 percent), Spain (76 percent), Germany (74 percent), Canada (73 percent), Italy (70 percent), the United States (67 percent), France (67 percent), Britain (59 percent) and China (57 percent).

I heard this sort of thing from Hirata who read it in a report from Mexico. I think it is true. It is counter-intuitive, but I think it really shows that the social fabric of Japan has broken down and that much of what we believe about Japan is wrong.

I think that if we can take this shift and convert it to the "wind of change" that Jane referred to, we might be able to change Japan more easily that most people think...

Hirata and I will be spending the day at Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) judging the business plans of dozens of high tech venture business plans from university/industry programs. The TLO/venture program is part of a huge METI project to try to get ventures to grow from universities. The problem, after reading most of the plans, is that just giving money to these guys will not a venture business make... I am worried that this is going to be a huge waste of tax money... I think it is OK to fund basic research with government money, but this faux VC style investing from the government is pretty strange. We are juding life science, energy, IT, chemical and other types of technology. I have no idea how to judge any thing other than the IT and energy plans. They've asked me to judge the "business" side of the plan and they have other people focused on the technology. It's pretty strange/impossible to judge the business without knowing the technology. For instance, "XX will make the XX process XX more efficient and therefore will revolutionize the XX market." If this is true, SURE, it's sounds like a great business. If it isn't true, no chance. With IT I have a very good idea of the market size and the feasibility of technologies, but in life sciences... no way.

Anyway, I don't want to bash this program too much yet until we have the first meeting today, but I'm definitely going to voice my opinion before we start into the detail. We will be allocating millions of dollars (billions or hundred millions of yen) today so I feel quite responsible. Luckily I don't know anyone on the list of people who applied for grants/funding so at least I don't feel conflicted...

I suck at squash, but I still like to play. I played squash with Yuichi and Shane this morning from 6:30am. It took me only 13 minutes where it usually sometimes takes up to an hour. Just driving to the gym is worth getting up early for. I really suck at squash, but I beat Shane 2 out of 3 today. I only sometimes beat Shane, but this is the first time I won more matches than him. I've never beat Yuichi who is really good.