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From the Director

“Amid Turbulence and Westerlies”

Heizo TakenakaTen years have passed since I began working with Academyhills to build an intellectual hub in Tokyo after taking office as the president. Looking back on those years, I feel that the role of intellectual places like Academyhills is becoming more important.

2016 was a year in which the economy fluctuated wildly like “turbulence.” A divide in some countries have led to a stunning consequences. Britain voted to leave the EU following the hotly contested referendum while the U.S. voters chose an unexpected victor of presidential election. In response, Japan’s stock market swung up and down wildly in a 20% range. We must expect this kind of turbulence to happen again as national elections are going to take place in major European countries in 2017. We should also be aware of the mid to long-term political and economic development of emerging countries including China.

On the other hand, another strong wind has been blowing consistently --- the westerlies named the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to actively respond to the rise of the new trend brought by such new technologies as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data that are creating the so-called “sharing economy.”
This movement has become prominent since early 2010’s when the German government began to use the word “Industry 4.0” in its economic policy which aimed to take advantage of the Internet in the manufacturing process.
An expert in AI points out that a technological breakthrough in the research of “deep learning” in 2012 led this movement to accelerate. But the first time the Japanese government incorporated the term the Fourth Industrial Revolution into its economic growth strategy was only last year. People’s awareness of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact is relatively low in Japan.

Academyhills is the place where creative people who are at the forefront to lead the new era come together and inspire each other to become more powerful. Academyhills has been the cutting-edge place to promote a chain reaction generated through the interaction among diverse people. As the economic society is now under drastic change triggered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, its role has become more important.

The keyword is “innovation.” Economist Joseph Schumpeter who figured out the importance of innovation in economics first described it in the following words, “new combination.”

Cities can make this happen. Taking advantage of being located in Tokyo, which is one of the most prominent cities in the world, Academyhills works to promote intellectual interaction. According to the Mori Memorial Foundation, Tokyo ranked 3rd in the world’s city ranking in 2016, up from the 4th in the previous year. Specifically in Roppongi, which is located in the heart of Tokyo, Academyhills will further promote new intellectual interaction.

In the meantime, preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is under way. The Olympics gives momentum to change the society. We must not miss this great opportunity.

At Academyhills, we would like to grab this opportunity and make the favorable wind so that we will be able to tap into the flow of the westerlies and avoid the interference from the turbulence.

Heizo Takenaka,
January 2017