Japanese management – why is it not global? asks Masamoto Yashiro at a Tokyo University brainstorming

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Lecture summary written by Gerhard Fasol, with revisions by Mr Masamoto Yashiro. All Rights Reserved.
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Masamoto Yashiro: Japan leader and Chairman emeritus of Esso, Exxon, Citibank, Shinsei Bank

Masamoto Yashiro at brainstorming by President of Tokyo University

Masamoto Yashiro is a legend in Japan’s banking and energy industry. He built Shinsei Bank from the ashes of the bankrupt Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, and served in leadership positions (Chairman, CEO, Board Member) in Esso, Exxon, Citibank, Shinsei Bank, and the China Construction Bank.

Tonight a small group of about 60 people were invited to join Masamoto Yashiro and the President of The University of Tokyo, Professor Junichi Hamada, for an evening workshop and brainstorming event about globalization of Japanese corporations at The University of Tokyo. Participating were a selected group of The University of Tokyo graduates, faculty, and selected alumni from several elite Universities associated with The University of Tokyo, and currently working at major Japanese trading companies, Ministry of Finance, financial firms, global consulting firms and other global firms.

After The University of Tokyo President Junichi Hamada’s introductory words, we heard Masamoto Yashiro’s fantastic overview of how he thinks Japanese companies need to change and why, followed by Q&A, then by a brainstorming session in the format of changing groups of four on about 15 separate tables between the participants, and then followed by buffet and drinks reception.

Topic of the evening was the globalization issues of Japanese corporations, also discussed in our work about Japan’s Galapagos issues:

About Masamoto Yashiro (八城政基)

Wikipedia pages:

Masamoto Yashiro graduated from Kyoto University (Law Faculty) in 1954 and The University of Tokyo Graduate School in 1958, and entered Standard Vacuum Oil Company. In 1964 he became Director of Esso, and later Special Assistant to the Chairman of Standard Oil New Jersey, and in 1986 President of Esso Sekyu KK.
In 1989, Masamoto Yashiro moved to become Japan representative of Citibank NA, and Chairman of Citicorp Japan in 1997.
IN 1999, Masamoto Yashiro became CEO of New LTCB Partners CV, the company emerging from the bankruptcy proceedings of the Long Term Credit Bank of Japan, and was in charge of the revival of LTCB as Chairman and CEO, with investment from Ripplewood Investment Fund, creating today’s Shinsei Bank.
He resigned as CEO of Shinsei Bank in 2005, but returned as Chairman and CEO in 2008, from which he retired in 2010.
In 2004, he was appointed Director of the China Construction Bank.

Masamoto Yashiro (former Chairman of Shinsei Bank, Chairman of Citicorp Japan and President of Esso Japan, Director of China Construction Bank)
Masamoto Yashiro (former Chairman of Shinsei Bank, Chairman of Citicorp Japan and President of Esso Japan, Director of China Construction Bank)

Japanese management – why is it not global? What should we do? asks Masamoto Yashiro

Note: this record was reviewed personally by Masamoto Yashiro, who made some corrections.

Japanese management – why is it not global? Outline:

  • Some people may argue that Japanese companies need not be global. Why?
  • We must accept that English is an essential tool for international communication.
  • Some impediments that Japanese companies face:
    1. The traditional approach is not effective in developing future leaders.
    2. The Japanese-style board structure is not appropriate to ensure sound corporate governance.
    3. Management structure needs to be changed to suit a global business.
    4. The current limited role of foreign nationals in the management and board structure
  • What should be the most important corporate objective?
  • Concluding remarks
Masamoto Yashiro (standing at the podium on the right hand side) presenting and President of Tokyo University Junichi Hamada (sitting on the left) listening
Masamoto Yashiro (standing at the podium on the right hand side) presenting and President of Tokyo University Junichi Hamada (sitting on the left) listening

Summary of Masamoto Yashiro’s talk:

Some people may argue that Japanese companies need not be global. Why?

Some superficial discussions about “Japanese companies” contrast “permanent employment” and excellent pensions in Japanese companies with job-hopping and bad pensions in other countries, however, Masamoto Yashiro points out that during his time at Esso and later Exxon, most employees stayed 20-30 years at Exxon, and received excellent pensions, so “permanent longterm employment” or pension system has nothing to do with globalization, and Japanese leading companies are no different than leading companies in other countries in these respects. We have to search elsewhere for the causes of current problems most Japanese companies are facing.

Around 1990, about 20 years ago, Japan was extremely self-satisfied by the successful reconstruction after the war and economic growth and success, and Japan felt that Japan does not have anything to learn from others. This time is now over, Japan is in stagnation, and many Japanese companies are not globally competitive, and Japan and Japanese companies must change to become competitive again.

We must accept that English is an essential tool for international communication.

Masamoto Yashiro is convinced that Japanese companies must globalize, and must make English a business tool. He feels it is a great disadvantage that Japanese political and corporate leaders, when participating in international conference, such as Davos, mostly need to use interpreters, and this reduces their global impact and exchange of ideas dramatically.

Some impediments that Japanese companies face:

1. The traditional approach is not effective in developing future leaders.

The traditional approach in Japan is to rotate career employees every two years between totally different functions, in order to “develop well-rounded managers”. The result of this process are non-experts, which are not expert in anything.

As an example, during his leadership at Shinsei Bank, Masamoto Yashiro once requested a meeting with the IT Department leadership. To his great surprise 60 people turned up for the meeting (he had expected 2 or 3). He asked the Department Chief for particular information, and he could not understand the question and could not answer, same result one management lower. Only at the third layer from the top, Masamoto Yashiro could get his question answered – the top two management layers could not answer his questions about the work of the IT Department.
Quite generally there often far too many people at meetings at Japanese companies.

When at Exxon in the US as a relatively junior manager, Masamoto Yashiro, was asked about his opinion regarding the termination of a particular joint-venture relationship with a mid-size petroleum refining company in Japan known then as ゼネラル石油精製 who had financial trouble. Exxon had a 50% interest in this company and its relations goes back to very late 1950’s. In late 1985 at the Exxon Management Committee meeting in New York, all other managers favored to terminate the relationship with this joint venture partner in trouble in order to limit financial exposure, while Masamoto Yashiro argued that it was better to support the troubled partner and assist him with Exxon staff and expertise to return to profitability. To his great surprise the Chairman and his superiors at Exxon sided with his recommendation and changed their previous position following his advice. Generally he felt that in the USA his opinion as a Japanese manager was highly valued, because it provided a different view point.

In his experience in Japan the situation is totally opposite: Japanese senior management generally does not listen to junior employees, and particularly not to foreign nationals in the rare cases that there are any in Japanese companies. In fact, the most frequent question senior management at Japanese banks ask, is not for original ideas or creativity from junior staff, but instead: “What do other banks do?”

This deplorable Japanese situation even contrasts strongly with the situation in China, where Masamoto Yashiro was a Director of the China Construction Bank: in China leaders moved from Government agencies and Ministries to Banks, and to private industries and back.

Generally Masamoto Yashiro expressed the view, that the development of leaders is totally inadequate in Japan, and is better in China than in Japan.

In addition to the inadequate development of leaders in Japanese companies, the number of foreign nationals in management, Board and other leadership positions in Japanese companies is minute, there are no programs to attract and develop foreign nationals in leadership positions. On the contrary, when Shinsei Bank showed losses in the aftermath of the Lehman shock, Japan’s Financial Services Agencies ordered that Shinsei Bank must pay all foreign nationals on exactly the same pay levels as Japanese employees. Since foreign nationals typically have much higher schooling and other costs in Japan than Japanese staff, essentially all non-Japanese staff at Shinsei Bank left soon after.

Leaders can make a real difference.

How leaders are selected is of utmost importance.

At Exxon, senior management devote specially reserved time to identify suitable candidates for future leadership positions, “who can potentially be our CEO in the future”. The selected candidates are given special attention and special opportunities to train and develop their leadership abilities. Masamoto Yashiro has never heard about such special leadership development programs at Japanese companies.

2. The Japanese-style board structure is not appropriate to ensure sound corporate governance.

In Japan, Board Members are almost always managing employees of the company, so the question arises who’s interests they represent on the Board. Do they represent the interests of the institution (the company), the employees or the interests of the shareholders.

In Japan often the CEO of the company after his retirement remains as a Chairman for several years, keeps his office, secretary and company car, and creates large other expenses. Why? Probably because Japanese CEO pay is too low, so that the CEO does not wish to retire gracefully.

This is totally different in Western companies where retired CEOs leave the company and have no further role in the company in most cases. Masamoto Yashiro mentioned the retired Chairman of Exxon, who after his retirement naturally travelled by taxi. In Japanese it would be unthinkable according to Masamoto Yashiro that the retired Chairman of a major corporation would travel by ordinary taxi cab like ordinary people (Masamoto Yashiro did not mention subway or bus, or driving his own personal car….)

3. Management structure needs to be changed to suit a global business.

In non-Japanese companies in almost all cases have a thorough performance evaluation system. When performance is evaluated, the resulting distribution must be similar to a normal distribution, i.e. with considerable part of employees at the high end and substantial numbers at the low end of the performance curve. If this is not done, top performers cannot be sufficiently rewarded and will leave the company, while low performers would hold the whole company back.

In most Japanese companies on the other hand, if a thorough performance evaluation is done at all, in most cases a huge proportion of employees are just evaluated as average, satisfying performance, without clear distinctions between top and bottom performance.

Promotion and salary on the other hand in traditional Japanese companies is purely according to age, which leads to many problems, and causes under-performance of the whole company.

These problems are increased by the fact, that Japanese companies typically do not give the same evaluation or opportunities to non-Japanese nationals.

4. The current limited role of foreign nationals in management and board structure.

Even in the rare cases where foreign nationals are employed by Japanese companies in management or leadership positions e.g. in foreign subsidiaries, often junior Japanese employees which much lower rank and local knowledge do not respect and bypass non-Japanese management, and there is typically no fair evaluation system, evaluating Japanese and non-Japanese management according to the same standards of performance.

The change of this mindset (to keep non-Japanese out of management or leadership positions at Japanese corporations) is extremely important.

The change of mindset (to keep non-Japanese out of management or leadership positions at Japanese corporations) is not difficult at all and can be done quickly.

What should be the most important corporate objective?

When considering corporate governance it is important to develop a view on the objectives. When discussing the interest of shareholders, it is important to ask “which shareholders”? The interests of large shareholders who may own 10% or 20% of the corporation, or the interests of individual smaller shareholders? Other stake holders’ interests also need to be taken into account.

In general, Masamoto Yashiro expressed the view that both the institution’s (the company’s) and the shareholders interest are best served by stable long-term growth of the company. He mentioned as an example Exxon which showed triple-A rating and annual rate of growth of 15%-17% for over 100 years.

Concluding remarks.

Around 1990 Japan was self-satisfied with the economic success, and Japanese people thought that they have nothing to learn from anybody. This time is over now, and Japan and Japanese corporations much change to regain growth and to become competitive again.

Professor Junichi Hamada, President of The University of Tokyo, listening to Masamoto Yashiro’s talk

Japanese management – Q&A with Masamoto Yashiro (selected questions)

Q. You want Japanese companies to change. What are the good things you want Japanese companies to keep?

A. Loyalty. Consideration to stakeholders.

Q. Your work at Shinsei.

A. Communication was most important. When Masamoto Yashiro took over at Shinsei, the Bank has just gone through bankruptcy proceedings, so the moral was extremely low. Masamoto Yashiro had to reestablish optimism and moral. To do so, communication is most important. Masamoto Yashiro held weekly telephone conferences and every employee who wanted to could participate: from top management to cleaning staff/janitors. Everyone could come forward with his concerns.

Another fact was that there were so many traditions which made no sense. For example, female employees with University degrees would wear their own clothes, while female employees without University degrees would need to wear company uniform. There was an issue that lower paid staff had difficulty to afford appropriate clothing for bank work – so Masamoto Yashiro decided to award a clothing allowance to employees so that they could afford appropriate clothing.

Q. Many Japanese companies cannot hire young employees, because they cannot fire/discharge non-performing older employees.

A. Firing/discharge of non-performing employees can be done by paying adequate severance compensation. Considering that a non-performing employee who remains on the payroll for several years in addition to salary also creates a lot of secondary costs, it is typically cheaper to pay an appropriate severance package, and most people are happy to leave with an appropriate severance package, and often move to a more suitable position at a different company – this helps everyone. Of course some companies want to save money at all cost, and fire employees without adequate package and that can lead to problems.

Q. Having worked much of your career at global oil or energy companies, what to you think about Japanese oil companies?

A. Japanese oil companies are not really oil companies, because they do not invest enough upstream.

Q. Leadership?

A. Japanese companies must change. The mindset must change.

Q. University of Tokyo?

A. University of Tokyo at the moment I think is ranked on 30th or 40th position globally in most rankings, maybe top in Japan or in Asia, but that does not count, we need to look at the whole world, not just Japan or Asia. I think University of Tokyo should make the changes necessary be at least in the top ten globally. To get into the top ten globally, University of Tokyo needs to hire outstanding Professors where the best students from the whole world want to come and study. To get the best Researchers and Professors University of Tokyo has to pay what is necessary. Does not matter which language, English or Japanese or any other language. No outstanding student from other parts of the world wants to study Japanese first before studying at University of Tokyo. University of Tokyo should make the necessary changes so that the best students from top Universities globally also want to come to University of Tokyo.

Mr Masamoto Yashiro’s talk and Q&A were followed by a brainstorming session in groups among all participants of four about globalization, and global leadership development.

Read more about Masamoto Yashiro

Download Gerhard Fasol’s Stanford University lecture “New opportunities vs old mistakes – foreign companies in Japan's high-tech markets”

Receive an email with a link to download Gerhard Fasol’s Stanford University lecture “New opportunities vs old mistakes – foreign companies in Japan's high-tech markets” when you register for our newsletters:

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Pricing of gas imports – Why does Japan pay so much more than any other major country for gas imports?

Was invited today to take part in a discussion meeting at one of the European Embassies about pricing of Gas (LNG) imports.

All the major Japanese buyers of LNG from the major electricity and gas companies came together with European partners to discuss issues of import Gas (LNG) pricing.

For detailed statistics of Japan’s gas (LNG, LPG) imports, and why Japan pays so much more than any other major country for LNG read our Report on Japan’s energy sector

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Japan Galapagos Effect – How to capture global value for Japan? Keynote for the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) by Gerhard Fasol

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Japan Galapagos Effect – how to capture global value for Japan. From the Journal of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ), reproduced with permission.

Dr. Gerhard Fasol dissects the history behind Japan's unique international market separation

By Hugh Ashton

Originally posted by ACCJ Journal on January 15, 2011 in “Chamber Events”
based on a talk given by Dr. Gerhard Fasol to the Members of the American Chamber of Commerce (ACCJ) on July 12, 2010, at the Westin Hotel, Tokyo.

(c) 2011 Copyright by The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).
Reproduced with kind permission of ACCJ.

Dr. Gerhard Fasol, the founder and CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK, spoke to ACCJ members about Japan’s “Galapagos Effect” at the Westin Hotel in Tokyo. The “Galapagos Effect,” for those unfamiliar with the term, is used to describe Japan’s unique culture of technology that has not expanded beyond Japan’s borders, in the same way that the Galapagos Islands exemplify unique evolutionary developments in nature.

Japan Galapagos Effect - Dr. Gerhard Fasol
Dr. Gerhard Fasol

Where Japan Leads

Investment is a prime reason why such developments as Internet-related mobile communications are so advanced in Japan. As Fasol pointed out, Japan has seven times the number of 3G base stations as the United Kingdom. Many of the related technical developments in mobile handsets that are only just coming onto the market outside Japan have been standard for many years in this country—Fasol gave high-quality camera phones as an example.

Quoting a Nokia spokesman, he claimed one reason for this leap was that Europe is conservative in regards to standards, which take a long time to develop and ratify in contrast to Japan. He amplified the Galapagos analogy by stating, “Japan is a Galapagos island, and doesn’t have to care about standards.”

Fasol also claimed that Japan is 10 to 15 years ahead of other nations in its use of electronic money. He contrasted Europe’s fragmented and overly bureaucratic nature with Japan’s, where large decisions—such as
i-Mode and Suica—can be made by a mere two or three people, which may come as a surprise to those who see Japan as a bureaucratic nightmare.

The reverse side of the Galapagos effect, however, is that Japanese phones designed for the home market fail to find buyers outside Japan. Electronic money is another area where Japanese technology seems destined to remain within the borders of Japan, despite the fact it is now quite common and accounts for a relatively large proportion of currency in circulation at about two percent. Fasol claimed that the U.S. and Europe are not yet ready for the mass introduction of such a payment system like Japan. In the long term, he believes, non-Japanese global giants will probably win out over the Japanese innovators.

Shedding Light on Genius

Another area where Japan has led innovations in the commercialization of technology is the revolution in lighting, which is poised to offer new environmentally-friendly illumination options. Based on the invention of the blue LED by Shuji Nakamura, the new lighting systems are also wallet-friendly in that they offer a 6,000-fold advantage in terms of price for the same amount of light over kerosene-powered lighting, still a staple in many parts of the world.

However, Nakamura was largely ignored by the Japanese business community; he is not even named on the website of the company that employed him (Nichia), and is now working at a university in California—Tokyo University claimed they wanted more “ordinary professors.” According to Fasol, the “Galapagos effect” means that there is no room or need for geniuses like Nakamura in Japan.


Up to 1995, Japan’s economy was growing, but is now static, a unique situation within the G8. Indeed, extrapolated from present trends, South Korea’s economy could overtake Japan’s in 2022.

Japan has a huge electronics sector, from giants to smaller specialist makers with a $600 million market about the same as the Netherlands. However, the growth is almost zero compared with that of 10 years ago. The net income of the top 20 companies of the sector is actually less than that of a single U.S. company, GE or of Korean rival, Samsung. This has a disadvantageous effect on pension funds, who are the major shareholders of these companies, but the governance of Japanese corporate affairs by shareholders is much less than, say, in the U.S. Still, Japan enjoys a very large national market (unlike the UK, for
example), which can help companies survive. On the other hand, this may have prevented companies from “going global” as their internal market has reached saturation. Fasol mentions rice cookers as an example of a
consumer durable that is not purchased frequently, and accordingly has a relatively small and finite market footprint. Even so, every major electrical manufacturer designs and produces a range of rice cookers, with a very low profit margin of well under one percent, which may be part of the legacy of the zaibatsu (the large pre-war conglomerates). This legacy means that most present-day conglomerates feel the need to do everything—for instance, there are three global makers of trains, but ten in Japan.

The Galapagos Study Group

Fasol then went on to describe the 26-person interdisciplinary Galapagos Study Group—of which he was the only non-Japanese member—which met monthly for a year and concentrated on the mobile phone industry.

The results of these meetings were summarized in three sets of recommendations to telecom carriers, electrical manufacturers, and content companies, with the second category receiving the recommendations that Fasol described as most radical.

He surprised his listeners by saying, “I think it would be best for Japan if in five years or so there were no more Hitachi, or Fujitsu, or Toshiba.” This, of course, was not meant as a direct attack on these specific companies, but as an attack on their conglomerate nature. Instead of the current state, he suggested a move towards smaller companies, focused on profitable businesses, would be preferable and would restart growth.

On the content side, Fasol claims that Japan is the only country in the world with the intellectual and creative resources to create characters that can stand up to Mickey Mouse and the Disney empire, but has not succeeded in creating global businesses based on Pikachu or Doraemon. Accordingly, the committee made a recommendation that platforms similar to Disney be created in order to create global businesses using such characters.

Japan Galapagos Effect - Dr. Gerhard Fasol
Dr. Gerhard Fasol

Coming to Japan from the Outside

On the subject of breaking into “the Galapagos market,” Fasol pointed out that good foreign companies can succeed in Japan if they know the market. As an example, he cites traffic lights, whose specifications in Japan are controlled by the police. Any company failing to recognize this kind of local quirk, no matter what its global standing, is doomed to failure when it comes to Japan. Examples of dramatic failures he cited were Nokia, Nasdaq, and Vodafone. To paraphrase the traditional real estate tag, Fasol claimed that the three biggest mistakes foreign companies coming to Japan make are “arrogance, arrogance and arrogance.” He claimed that this has nothing to do with Japan’s closed markets, quoting the iPhone’s success as an example.

He pointed out that there are other reasons for the failure of foreign entrants. Apart from the failure to listen to customers and understand the market, reasons include partnership with the wrong joint venture partners, and the management of Japanese ventures by managers who fail to understand the country.

However, the Japanese service lifestyle, allied with what he terms a “fashion society,” is a great opportunity for outsiders to break into the Galapagos market, and Fasol claimed that foreign companies can tap Japan’s creativity and use it to their advantage.

He also claimed that the relative isolation of Japan from global standards and practices in some cases actually enriches the global experience. But at the same time this also introduces life-threatening issues for Japan and this isolation must be addressed through two-way dialog from inside and outside of Japan.

(c) 2011 Copyright by The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ).
Reproduced with kind permission of ACCJ.


Download Gerhard Fasol’s Stanford University lecture “New opportunities vs old mistakes – foreign companies in Japan's high-tech markets”

(was transmitted by Stanford’s TV to 100s of Silicon Valley companies)

Receive an email with a link to download Gerhard Fasol’s Stanford University lecture “New opportunities vs old mistakes – foreign companies in Japan's high-tech markets” when you register for our newsletters:

Read more about Japan’s “Galapagos effect” here:

Electricity deregulation in Japan

Was invited today to take part in discussions about electricity deregulation in Japan at one of the European Embassies.

Participants in the discussions were representatives from major Japanese electricity companies, the director for electricity deregulation of Japan’s Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and European experts on electricity deregulation.

For an overview of Electricity Deregulation in Japan read our report on Japan’s Electricity Industry sector.

Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya

Found Alexa Meade’s art in Shibuya today:

Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya
Alexa Meade paints MINI @109 in Shibuya

Who is Alexa Meade?

Watch Alexa Meade’s TED talk:

Alexa Meade // Sheila Vand

Blue laser diode book with Shuji Nakamura – the back ground story

The Blue Laser Diode: The Complete Story (2nd Edition) Springer Verlag, Heidelberg

Blue laser diode book – GaN based light emitters and lasers (1st Edition)

Shuji Nakamura & Gerhard Fasol the blue laser diode
Shuji Nakamura & Gerhard Fasol the blue laser diode

Since I have been working for many years on GaAs research, as soon as I heard Shuji Nakamura’s talk at one of Japan’s applied physics conferences, I understood the importance, visited Shuji Nakamura in Anan where he was working at Nichia Kagaku Kougiyou, and became friends with Shuji Nakamura (see Shuji Nakamura speaking here at the 5th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium in Tokyo). Shuji Nakamura also introduced me over curry lunch to Founder and Chairman Nobuo Ogawa (小川 信雄), who at that time was about 83 years old.

I asked Chairman Nobuo Ogawa why he had agreed to pay for Shuji Nakamura’s proposed research on GaN blue LEDs, and pay for Shuji Nakamura learn MOCVD at the University of Florida in Professor Ramaswamy’s group. Nobuo Ogawa’s answer: “How did you chose your wife?”

I wrote a number of articles about Shuji Nakamura’s development of GaN LEDs and lasers in SCIENCE Magazine and the Deutsche Physikalische Blätter.

I also wrote an article for the Journal of the German Physical Society, at that time “Physikalische Blätter”, for which I was regularly writing articles and reports from Japan. The Editor initially rejected my article. He told me that he had consulted with German experts, and these experts had told him that they had never heard about a successful blue GaN LED, and that this was therefore impossible, and wrong. The Editor asked me rhetorically: “Do you think these German experts are wrong?” – I answered “Yes, they are wrong – you should publish this article”, and sent him some background information in support of my article. He finally published the article, and you can find it online here:

  • Gerhard Fasol: “Die blaue GaN Leuchtdiode: Auftakt für einen neuen Industriezweig (The blue GaN light emitting diode: the beginning of a new industry)” Physikalische Blätter, 51, p. 925-926 (October 1995)
  • Gerhard Fasol: “Japanische Herbstkonferenzen in Angewandter Physics (Japan’s autumn conferences on applied physics)” Physikalische Blätter, 50, p. 1118-1119 (December 1994) (my first report on Shuji Nakamura’s GaN work in Germany’s Physikalische Blätter)

Through my articles in Science Magazine and Physikalische Blätter, Claus Ascheron, Physics Editor of Springer Verlag became aware of my work in Tokyo, and asked me if I can help him win Shuji Nakamura’s agreement to write a book on his GaN work.

Claus Ascheron and myself went to visit Shuji Nakamura, and we had a lunch with Shuji Nakamura, Chairman Nobuo Ogawa, Claus Ascheron and myself. During lunch Claus Ascheron asked Shuji Nakamura, if he would be interested to write a book for Springer Verlag. Shuji agreed, but said that he needs Chairman Ogawa’s agreement. He asked Chairman Ogawa straight away, and Chairman Ogawa said “No. You can’t write this book, I don’t give my permission”. So I intervened and asked Chairman Ogawa for the reason of this refusal. Chairman Ogawa said: “Nakamura-san is researcher, he must do research and develop new products, he cannot waste his time writing books”. So I offered to help as a co-author, so that this would take less of Shuji Nakamura’s time. Chairman Ogawa agreed to this arrangement, and gave his permission.

As a result, Shuji Nakamura and myself worked many night-sessions over Christmas and New Year 1996/1997, and the first edition of the Blue GaN Laser book was published in January 1997, to be ready for the annual Book Fair in Frankfurt.

  • “The Blue Laser Diode: The Complete Story” (2nd Edition),
    S. Nakamura, S. Pearton, G. Fasol
    (Springer-Verlag, October 2000, ISBN 3-540-66505-6)
    Press here to order “The blue laser diode” from amazon.com

  • “The Blue Laser Diode – GaN based light emitters and lasers” (1st Edition),
    S. Nakamura, G. Fasol
    (Springer-Verlag, January 1997, ISBN 987-3-662-03464-4)

You can also read some of the background of Shuji Nakamura’s invention and the development of the solid state lighting industry in our Solid State Lighting report.

Copyright (c) 2013 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Kyoto, Nara, Uji – tips

Kyoto tips: tell me the top-10 things to see!

I wrote the first version of this Kyoto tips page for my god-daughter who visited Japan with her boyfriend last year, and she asked me “Gerhard – tell me the top-10 things to do in Kyoto!”…

Kyoto is both a town (Kyoto-Shi 京都市) and a Province (Kyoto-fu 京都府).

Kyoto-shi (京都市) has a population of about 1.5 million.
Kyoto-fu (京都府) has a population of about 2.6 million (including the population of Kyoto-shi), and includes quite a large land area reaching to the sea at the North with the port town Maizuru (舞鶴).

Kyoto tips for a 1 Day visit:

Ryoanji -> Kinkakuji -> Ginkakuji -> Kiyomizutera -> Iyemon Salon for Tea or Fukujuen Tea Company (read more explanations about each of these places below)

More days in Kyoto:

Kyoto: how to get around

Kyoto is quite a large town, with about 1.5 million inhabitants, and Nara and Uji are about an hour away by train, so you need some planning to optimize your time in Kyoto and Nara. Get a 1-day, 2-day Sightseeing Bus/Subway pass so you don’t need to pay every single bus trip extra.
You’ll still have to pay extra for the JR lines, private train lines, cable cars etc. Get a ICOCA IC card for that.

Japan has an abundant supply of taxis. In most places and at most times you can catch a taxi within a few seconds just waiting at the roadside and waving down a free taxis. Free taxis have a red illuminated sign, occupied taxis have a green sign.

Kyoto: Iyemon Salon for Tea (伊右衛門サロン)

if you are looking for a nice place to drink Japanese tea – here is the place. Get a seat at the counter, have the tea prepared in front of you, and ask to have everything explained. Iyemon Salon Kyoto

Iyemon Salon (伊右衛門サロン) is a wonderful place, but its not a mama & papa store – if you are looking for a traditional family tea store, check out the Fukujuen Tea Company (福寿園) below. Today its the flagship store for the Iyemon tea brand of Suntory, one of Japan’s largest beverage and food companies, and you can get Iyemon tea from vending machines and convenience stores all over Japan.

To get there – here is the map. The address is:
〒604-8166 京都市中京区三条通烏丸西入御倉町80番地 千總ビル1階
(actually, Kyoto traditionally has an interesting way of writing addresses. The address is essentially a description how to get there from the nearest road junction, which is Karasuma – 3jou-dori. Its a different address system than any other place I know in Japan).
Telephone 075-222-1500
and her on Google maps

If you are looking for a more traditional tea shop 寺島屋弥兵衛商店 in Uji, or Fukujuen Tea Company (福寿園) are the places to go. See below in the section about Uji.

Kyoto: Fukujuen Tea Company (福寿園)

Iyemon was not always a brand of the Suntory Group: Iyemon Fukui is the founder of the Fukujuen Tea Company, which he founded in 1790, and the Fukujuen Tea Company sold the rights to the Iyemon brand to the Suntory Group in 2004 – quite recently.

The Fukujuen Tea Company still continues trading, and you can visit the splendid Fukujuen Kyoto Flagship store here:
〒600-8005 京都市下京区四条通富小路角
Shijo Tominokoji, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-city, Kyoto 600-8005 Japan
There are stores, restaurants on every floor, and on the 4th floor you can experience Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Kyoto: Ryoanji 龍安寺

its the famous Zen rock garden. Changes face with the seasons. I go there as much as I can – have been there at least 20 times or more.
Wikipedia: Ryoanji
Official site: Ryoanji

There is a wonderful boiled tofu (湯豆腐) restaurant on the grounds of Ryoanji Temple, Seigenin (西源院). Eat a pot of boiled tofu for lunch.
Information is here:

From Royanji, you can either take taxi or bus to Kinkakuji, which is very close by, or you can take the Randen train to Arashiyama (see below). The Randen train stop is about 5-10 minutes walk from Royanji.

Kyoto: Kinkakuji (Gold temple) 金閣寺

Kinkakuji (Gold temple) 金閣寺 is the very very famous temple covered with plated gold.
Wikipedia: Kinkakuji (Gold temple)
Kinkakuji official site
Official site of the Shokoku-ji Religious Corporation

Kyoto: Ginkakuji (Silver temple) 銀閣寺

Ginkakuji (Silver temple) 銀閣寺 is the equivalent to Kinkakuji, but silver plated. However, because silver is less resistant to the atmosphere, all the silver has gone, and Ginkakuji is not covered with any silver anymore but is a wooden temple building. Still, its fantastic, including the wonderful gardens. Nearby is the “Philosopher’s path” – an allegation to Heidelberg….
Wikipedia: Ginkakuji (Silver temple)
Official site: Ginkakuji
Official site of the Shokoku-ji Religious Corporation

There is a direct bus line between Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji: its the No. 102 Bus, you can see the route map, stops etc here – takes about 1/2 hour.

Kyoto: Arashiyama 嵐山

You could spend the day in Arashiyama. There are lots and lots of beautiful temples, you can walk up the mountain, bamboo forrest, and a beautiful and very famous Togetsukyo bridge. I’ll write more about Arashiyama when I update this blog in the future.
The English language Wikipedia site about Arashiyama is a stub only, and gives only a very small amount of information. There is MUCH MUCH more to see, and you can find much here on the Arashiyama-Navi site.

Japanese friends think that Arashiyama is a spooky place though… but don’t worry about ghosts….

Denjiro Okochi’s residence and gardens, Okochi Sanso (大河内山荘)

Another great place in Arashiyama, in addition to the many temples, is the former residence of the Japanese film actor Denjiro Okochi (大河内 傳次郎).
Okochi Sanso (English Wikipedia Site)
大河内山荘 (Japanese Wikipedia site)
大河内山荘 (Japanese Kyoto City Site)

Randen (嵐電)

The most fun way to go to Arashiyama is with the Arashiyama Line(嵐山線)abbreviated Randen (嵐電), owned and operated by the Keifuku Electric Railway Company (京福電気鉄道株式会社). Randen on wikipedia in English

Trains run about every 5-10 minutes between 6am and midnight every day.

You can take Randen between Riyoanji (where the fantastic Zen rock-garden is) and Arashiyama (you need to change trains in Katabiranotsuji-station (帷子ノ辻駅) ). Takes about 20 minutes by Randen. Then spend the day or afternoon in Arashiyama, and take Randen von Arashiyama back into the center of Kyoto – actually not right into the center but almost…

Randen has two lines which join up at the station Katabiranotsuji, where you can change:

  • 嵐山本線 = Arashiyama main line, which runs from near the center of Kyoto to Arashiyama
  • 北野線 = Kitano Line, which runs from Katabiranotsuji (帷子ノ辻駅) to Kitanohakubaichou (北野白梅町駅). Get off at Riyouanji for Riyouanji temple and Kinkakuji. From Kitanohakubaichou (北野白梅町駅) there are direct buses to Ginkakuji and the Philosopher’s Path.

Kyoto: Kiyomizutera 清水寺

Kiyomizutera 清水寺 is probably the most famous temple in Kyoto
Official website
Kiyomizutera (english Wikipedia site)

Kyoto: Mount Hiei (Hieizan) 比叡山

a fantastic cable car + walk + cable car down to lake Biwa trip. Needs 1/2 day at least, better a full day. The views from the top are spectacular – you need good weather for that.

Hieizan – Official website
Mount Hiei (english Wikipedia site)

I recommend a round trip:

  • Take the Eizan train from Demachi-Yanagi in the north of Kyoto to “Yase Hieizan-Guchi” station
  • Take the Eizan cable car to the top station, change to the “Eizan Ropeway” and go to the top station
  • Walk around Mount Hiei, visit the fantastic Enryakuji temple (延暦寺), and enjoy the views
  • Take the Sakamoto-Cable car down to Sakamoto, close to the Lake Biwa shore
  • Look around Sakamoto
  • Take the Keihan-Line back to Kyoto (you have to change trains at Hamaotsu, the Keihan line from Hamaotsu merges into the Kyoto subway system (Tozai-Line = East-West line)

Enryakuji temple (延暦寺)

Enryakuji temple (延暦寺) consists of many temples, the most important is Konpon Chu-do (根本中堂 = こんぽんちゅうどう), which was established in 788, more than 1200 years ago, bringing Buddhism to Japan, and even today is an important center of Buddhist studies.

Biwako (Biwa Lake 琵琶湖)

Biwa Lake (琵琶湖) is Japan’s largest lake, and is elevated 85.6 meters above sea level.

If you have time over, have a look at Biwako (Biwa Lake 琵琶湖)
Biwako (Visitor’s site)
Biwako (Japanese Wikipedia site)
Biwako (English Wikipedia site)
Lake Biwa Environmental Research Institute

Kyoto: Biwako Canal (琵琶湖疏水)

After the Imperial capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1868, Kyoto’s economy collapsed.

In response, Kyoto courageously made a huge investment in building the Biwako-Canal system (琵琶湖疏水), which has three purposes:

  • drinking water supply for Kyoto from Biwako Lake
  • shipping on the canals between Kyoto and Biwako and within Kyoto
  • electricity generation to power electrical lighting and to power Japan’s first electrical street car system

Lake Biwa is approximately at an elevation of 85.6 m above sea level, and Kyoto is approximately 50 – 55 m above sea level. Therefore, water flows along the Biwako Canal naturally, and the difference in elevation make electrical power generation possible.

All of the Biwako Canal system has been preserved and is partly still functional today, and can be visited. You can also walk along many of the installations and canals, and see the power stations and water works, especially near Keage (蹴上).

To study the history, construction and many details and historic models of the Biwako Canal, including also economic analysis, you can best visit the Lake Biwa Canal Museum of the Kyoto Municipal Waterworks Department in Keage.

Wikipedia: Lake Biwa Canal (English)
Wikipedia: 琵琶湖疏水 (Japanese) (note that the Japanese Wikipedia site is much more detailed than the English version, and also shows a detailed map of the various waterways forming the Biwako Canal System, most of which are still active, or preserved.

You could spend days exploring all aspects of the Biwako Canal. If you only have a few hours, I recommend, you take the subway to Keage station (蹴上駅), visit the Biwako Canal Museum, and then take a walk along the ramp where a rope driven railway used to raise an lower canal boats on trolleys on a railway for ships. This shipping railway is also a great cherry blossom spot in spring. (There is another such inclined railway at another location in Southern Kyoto).

Kyoto: Nijo Castle 二条城

Nijo Castle 二条城 is one of the most impressive castles in Japan – if not the world
Nijo Castle, Kyoto Town Government site
Nijo Castle, Kyoto (english Wikipedia site)
Nijo Castle on Google maps

Uji 宇治

spend enough time in Uji.
There are two world heritage sites in Uji:

Here is the official site for Uji of the Kyoto town government.
Uji (english Wikipedia site)

Uji is famous for tea- you can get Uji tea all over Japan, but of course Uji tea is best in Uji. I recommend the following store: 寺島屋弥兵衛商店, sorry could not find anything in English about this tea store. Its the best. Its close to the main road approaching Byodo-in. The location is here on Google-maps.

There are three train lines going to Uji. JR-West and Keihan Uji stations are quite close to Byodoin, about 10-20 mins walk, Kintetsu Ogura-Station is a little further away, about 30 mins walk.

Nara 奈良

Nara is the core of Japan with very very long history, and really needs a site of its own – which I’ll make if I can get round to it. You can spend a week, or a month in Nara, and have not seen all. So minimum is one day trip from Kyoto to Nara, so you can get an idea.
Official site of the City of Nara
Official site of the Prefecture of Nara
Nara (English Wikipedia site)

Kyoto-Nara by train

There are two ways:

  1. JR-West Nara Line: 710 yen, takes about 50 minutes – 1 hour
  2. Kintetsu Line: 620 yen, special express takes about 35 minutes: 1130 yen

The best way to go from Kyoto to Nara is with the Kintetsu-Tokkyu (Kintetsu Special Express), goes about every 30 minutes (first: 8:30am, last: 22:50pm) from Kintetsu-Kyoto station to Nara, takes about 35 minutes.

The last Kintetsu-Tokkyu express train back to Kyoto from Nara is at 20:30, and the very last train from Nara to Kyoto is 23:09-00:12 with the JR-Nara-Line.

Kintetsu-Tokkyu express train: costs 620 yen for the train ticket + 510 yen Express supplement = 1110 yen each way.

Have fun – and leave any tips or comments in the discussion section below if you like!

Copyright (c) 2013-2015 Eurotechnology Japan KK All Rights Reserved

Tips for Vienna (Wien) – enjoy your time in Vienna like a real Wiener

Vienna: have fun in Wien like a real Wiener

Here are some tips for Vienna, if you visit Vienna for holidays or conferences, or live in Vienna!

Vienna: Lots of friends ask me for recommendations when visiting Vienna, so I wrote up some tips here, I’ll keep updating these tips, so let me know any comments, or add new tips in the discussion section below after the end of this blog post!

Vienna tips: Heurigen, Tafelspitz, Lippizaner and Schloß Schönnbrunn. Here are some insider tips from a true Wiener for you to enjoy your stay in Vienna.
Vienna from the top of Stefansdom

Spanische Reitschule

visit the morning training or a performance of the Spanische Reitschule – that is something you cannot see anywhere else: dancing white horses – the “Lippizaner“.

The Spanische Reitschule theatre is inside the Emperor’s Castle in Vienna, and was built for the Emperor and his entourage, so there is very little seating available, and tickets are difficult to get. If you can’t make it to a performance, every morning during the winter months, the Lippizaner horses are trained and exercise and practice for the performances. You can visit the stables, and you can also watch the morning training.

During the summer months, the Lippizaner horses move from Vienna to their summer residence in Piber, which you can also visit. Its about 250 km from Vienna to Piber, and you can find the way here on Google.

And you can even buy Lippizaner horses.

Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper)

go to the Opera – if you cannot get seats, then every evening there is a number of standing tickets for sale. you have to stand, but you can get a cheap ticket, usually you can also get Opera tickets with a mark up via your Hotel, or ticket offices (sometimes these tickets cost 2-3 times more than the official prices).

A friend asked me who the owner of the Wiener Staatsoper ist. Read the answer here.

Vienna Volksoper and Theater an der Wien

There are other operas in Vienna also, for example the “Volksoper“, which mainly shows operettas, and the “Theater an der Wien” also sometimes shows operettas and musicals.

In case you know German, and are wondering why this theater is called “Theater an der Wien” – “Wien” here refers to the river Wien. The Wien is a river flowing through Vienna, and you can see the Wien river close to the Theater an der Wien, if you look for it. Its covered and flows under the streets for a small part of its way though. Read here about Wien Fluß (in German, in English). The Wien River starts not far from Vienna at the “Kaiserbründl” and is about 34 km long.


The Burgtheater, here on Wikipedia, (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgtheater, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgtheater) is/was the Emperor’s Theater, and “Burgtheaterdeutsch” is something like the official Austrian version of the German language.


walk the 343 steps to the top of the 137 meters high South-Tower of Stefansdom – the Cathedral in the center of Vienna. Open 9:00-17:30. Costs EURO 4. Here are the instructions.

There is no better place to look at Vienna from above than from the top of the Stefansdom tower.

The Stefansdom has two towers, a short one – “the Bell Tower”, which you can mount using an elevator. The other much higher tower, has no elevator, and you have to walk up 343 steps to reach the top. Until some years ago, there was an observation room of the Vienna Fire Services, where firemen were watching Vienna from above, looking out for fires during day and night. Today this observation room is conserved, and you can visit this observation room.


go to Schönbrunn – it was the Summer palace of the Austrian Imperial family. Do you know Maria-Theresia? She is the mother of Maria-Antoinette – and had 16 children! She loved her husband so much, that she broke the bed during the wedding night (ahahahaha – I am not sure its true, but at least its a funny story….)

Today Schönbrunn Castle is inside Vienna, and you can easily get there by taxi or subway or tram. There is a beautiful park, which includes a restored Japanese garden, and on a hill inside the park you can go to the “Gloriette” building, from which you have a great view over Vienna.

If you are with your kids, they will love the Zoo, the Tiergarten Schönbrunn, the history of which goes back to 1452! Almost 600 years – about as long as Vienna’s University.

Baden bei Wien

In Baden you can go to Hot spring bath (Onsen) and to the Casino!
If you have time – take the “Badner Bahn” tramway from Oper in Vienna to Baden (takes about one hour by tram). You can see the trip to Baden here on Google maps.


One thing I definitely recommend is for you to go to Heurigen! “Heurigen” comes from the Viennese word “heuer”, which means this current year. Since long ago, Vienna wine farmers had the privilege to sell their own wine, especially this year’s wine, on location. So, “Heurigen” means something like a vinery, which sells their own wine. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heurigen, http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heurigen)

Don’t go to Grinzing where all the tourists go, but go for example to Sirbu – you can take the No. 36 – D tram line to the end in Nussdorf, and then walk about 1/2 hour up the hill
Sirbu is here [Sirbu on Google maps], and here is how you walk from the end tram stop in Nußdorf to the Sirbu Heurigen

Sirbu even offers “Die romantische Bank – für Verliebte” (the romantic bench for lovers), with a great view over Vienna.

Vienna Restaurants and Coffee Shops (Kaffeehäuser)

Here are some recommendations by one of my primary school friends – who is high up in one of Austria’s largest newspapers:

Wiener Bälle – Vienna Balls

During the Fasching (= carnival) period of the year and until Ash-Wednesday, the Professions and many other organizations and clubs hold 100s of Bälle. You don’t know Vienna, if you have not been to a Ball in Vienna. Bälle generally start around 9pm and last until about 5am or 6am in the morning.

The Vienna Bälle are generally open for anyone to attend provided you can purchase tickets. Tickets are mostly sold via the professional associations and in some cases you need to purchase the tickets in person at the offices of the organizing profession. So if you don’t live in Vienna, often its best to ask your Viennese friends for help.

The most famous Ball is the Opernball, but there are many more. Watch this video to get an idea.

…and where to find Ludwig Boltzmann…

Ludwig Boltzmann is probably Austria’s greatest physicist – and one of the greatest physicists ever. Read more about Ludwig Boltzmann here. And he is the Great-Grandfather of the author of this blog.

To find Ludwig Boltzmann related memories in Vienna:

  • Ludwig Boltzmann’s bust in the central courtyard of Vienna University: Ludwig Boltzmann’s Bust is in the Hauptgebäude (central building) of the University of Vienna, near Schottentor. If you enter the University’s main building you will find Ludwig Boltzmann’s bust soon on the right hand side on the ground floor.
  • The Boltzmanngasse, a street named after Ludwig Boltzmann, is here. Both the US Embassy, and also the Physics Institute of the University of Vienna are located in Boltzmanngasse.
  • Ludwig Boltzmann’s grave: Ludwig Boltzmann (together with several immediate descendants, including the Grandfather and Grandmother of the author of this blog) is buried in an honorary grave at the Vienna Central Cemetery (Zentralfriedhof). The official website for this grave can be found here. You can find out here how to get there, and here on Google maps.

Have a nice time in Vienna!

Copyright·©2014 ·Eurotechnology Japan KK·All Rights Reserved·

Japan Cloud computing impact and trends

Japan cloud computing impact and trends, keynote article

Software eats everything, and cloud eats software… we all see a strong trend of all data and computing to move to “the cloud”, because if done well, managing data and computing in the cloud can be far cheaper than on computers and on storage that you or your company owns.

It is also much more efficient to manage security centrally in a scaled fashion for large numbers of users, rather than specifically for each computer, or each local network separately.

We expect to move almost all computing and data to the cloud, where we have multiple access points via tablets, smartphones and PCs/Macs or other devices or machines.

Japan Cloud – “Cloud computing impact and trends” by Gerhard Fasol, Keynote article about in the RENESAS ELECTRONICS customer magazine and website “Renesas Edge Global Watch”

The article summarizes the essence of how The Cloud is constructed, the key components, both hardware and software, and some examples of how The Cloud is used.

Japan cloud related:

  • “What Makes Japan’s Data Center Landscape Special: Trends, Growth, and Business Continuity Needs”, keynote at the DataCenter Summit, Tokyo, on May 22, 2013 by Gerhard Fasol
  • GMO Cloud KK

BBC interview about SONY earning results

Helped BBC with the article “Sony earnings boosted by weak yen and smartphone sales

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