26 Jan 2016

Determined

A day of determination.

腹括った日。

1 Jan 2016

New year resolution 2016

Front lines in 2015 were too broad to achieve something significant; instead 2016 should be a year of focus under some constraints.

Work: to envision the future of Japan around 2030, when I will be arund 50 y.o., and hypothesize my ideal position then there.

Private: while being healthy, to get exposure to various art of stories at least twice a month (so far achieved since the return) and to start Kyudo anew.

Cheers,

16 Jul 2015

On the day Japan's new security bills passed

This passing of the bills was certainly within my expectation as the majorities of Lower and Upper Houses are taken by the ruling coalition (LDP and New Komei Party); and moreover, this won't alter the fact Japan keeps 'obeying' the US since the WWII from a perspective of foreign affairs (so this is not to scrap the 'regime-after-WWII' but rather to enhance it, which is opposite to what the Prime Minister appealed for his first administration, by the way). However, I put my thoughts here to reflect my judgement later.

First of all, the opposition parties (e.g. especially DPJ, SDP, and CP etc) should seriously understand why they had lost the latest elections, and then propose improved (at least from their perspectives) bills, once they could get back to the administration if allowed by the nation. Of course, their 'improved' bills should carefully take into account existing constraints by the Constitution and geopolitically possible contingencies for Japan.

This is how we develop our own democracy, not by just keeping opposing to everything and never propose a countermeasure.

On the other hand, I am not so sure if it was a right decision that the current Administration has consumed very much of their political capital, which was raised through the General Election December 2014 and local elections in April 2015, into such controversial bills at this timing (even though this year is exact 70 years since the end of WWII, the number is still just a number). Also, it has to be seriously evaluated why they gave up proposing changes in the Constitution and especially its Article 9, which should be addressed if they believe this is fundamentally and structurally important to Japan going forward.

International politics is not an easy game. It consists of continuous games with multiple players who have quite different interests, for which each (at least large) player has to hold realistic options while appealing their ideal vision of the world; consequently it should end up balancing the powers among nations. A hegemony by superpower might stabilise the world in a short period of time, but our knowledge of history tells that any superpower won't last forever.

Of course it should be sincerely noted that conducting a war against any nation is an absolute failure of politics and foreign policy. We should avoid it no matter how much other resources are consumed, simply and crucially because lost lives of people can never be recovered by any means and it will take generations to heal the left traumas among living people and civilisations.

(Slight typos are corrected on 20 July, 2015)

13 Jul 2015

Japan's Lost Decades; there are many radical changes but the inertia from past success prevented some ideal changes.


Authors : Yoichi Funabashi, Barak Kushner
Published : 2015-04-20
The phrase 'A Lost Decade' got suddenly popular in Japan as it spotted the depressing mood of political and economic standstill after the asset bubble burst in early '90s. Including a first decade of twenty-first century, despite the era of the Koizumi administration with many reforms, that disappointing notion expanded to 'Lost Decades' these days.

However, this book which is the key deliverable out of the 'Japan's Lost Decades' project by Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF, a globally well-ranked independent thinktank in Tokyo), shows actually dynamic (many) changes in how Japan runs its political, economical, and social systems, in contrast with the static and passive implication of the word 'lost'.

This book, Examining Japan's Lost Decades, was written in plain essays by about 20 experts in population, macro/micro economics, economic policy, labour market, education, energy and nuclear power plant, political system, national security, trade, regional politics, US-Japan coalition, history problems, foreign affairs, and vision/values. The target readers are well-educated but non-experts who are keen to understand Japan from the bubble burst (and mechanisms behind) before recent Abe administration.

Those essays are highly interlinked, and this network of chapters would provide utterly unique perspectives on actual changes (and un-changes) in Japan. In reality, Japan was not standstill at all; rather, it aimed for reforms of systems optimised for the high-growth and cold-war era and realised a lot. For example, changes are explicit in the flexibility Japan's labour market, its political system regarding general election and the power of Cabinet Office, and its foreign policy on national security after the miserable failure in the Gulf war. However, the inertia of great success in the past, especially in corporate management and education, did not allow Japan to escape from the legacy of the success experience, as referred as 'Japan As Number One' by Ezra Vogel.

What's more, the fundamental commonality among those 'lost' areas (to be precise, areas that Japan has lost) is procrastination of addressing issues critical for its systems (e.g. ageing and declining population) in pursuit of interests of inner circle, meaning lack of sound governance and appropriate pressure from external players. In other words, negative 'externality' of economics has been at work in multiple layers of the Japanese society.  

This 'externality' problem is certainly not unique only to this era of Japan; but it keep recurring for the very long history of humankind. Therefore it is too naive to say that we find 'one-fits-for-all' solutions to this. Instead, well-educated people in twenty-first century have to learn from this dynamic modern history of Japan through 17 chapters of this book, and must obtain each own takeaway from those mistakes and failures Japan has made.

Reference:
Japan as No.1
Author : Ezra F Vogel 
Published: 1980-09

My (yet) personal suspicion on Big Data

Some Cambridge scientists say, Big Data should have 5 Big Vs (Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity, and Value) of Big Data, including:

  • its Volume in terms of size, or the number of variables needed to describe it,
  • its Velocity, in how it’s collected and processed in real-time,
  • the Variety of its diverse, linked and unstructured datasets,
  • its Veracity in terms of where it originates from and how complete it is,
  • and finally its Value, and especially how the use, linkage and re-use of data can provide crucial new insights that may have been unforeseen at the time the data was collected.
I've recently begun learning basics of data science to feel refreshed, yet based on my personal experience with Google (still receiving a handful spam emails unfiltered by Gmail) and Amazon (rarely alert me when a new book of series/authors I've been following, even I've bought tonnes of Kindle books), I am still not sure why those super intelligent data scientist cannot solve such appear-to-be-simple problems, which I'd love to know anyway:-)

5 Jul 2015

Cambridge MBA非公式日本向けサイトを、FC2からWordpress.comブログへ移行

(久しぶりの日本語更新です)
Cambridge MBAの日本人学生有志による、主にMBA留学を志す受験生のためのサイトを、昨今のスマートフォンの隆盛に伴うモバイル対応させるためにコンテンツを維持しつつFC2ブログからWordpress.comブログへフル移行しました。移行理由については永江一石さんの以下のエントリを参考にしました。
店舗や会社のブログをアメブロやFC2でやってはいけない3つの理由

いつくかのテンプレートを試行錯誤の上、Oxygenという無料テンプレートでどうにか意図しているサイトになるよう頑張りました。。。
新しいTHE CAMBRIDGE MBA 非公式サイト

大まかなステップをまとめておくと、以下のようになりました。

  1. FC2からのブログ移行について、Google検索して情報収取
  2. FC2から既存記事と画像をダウンロードしてローカルに保存
  3. Wordpress.com用に記事テキストの日時表記や投稿者名を修正
  4. Wordpress.comに記事画像をアップロード(プライベート状態を維持)
  5. 記事の体裁及び画像のリンク先を修正
  6. 主要記事にアイキャッチ画像を追加して見栄えを向上(使用テンプレートの仕様上の要請)
  7. 旧ブログのプロパティをGoogle Webmasterに登録(未了だったため;これを最初に行っておくべき)
  8. 旧ブログのURLにつき、インデックスからの削除依頼を送信
  9. 旧ブログのHTMLテンプレート内に検索拒否のコードを追記
  10. 削除が受理され(リクエストから数時間後)、旧ブログがGoogleで引っかからなくなったことを確認
  11. 新ブログをWordpress.comの管理画面から一般公開し、Webmasterのプロパティを新規登録
  12. WebmasterでTarget countryを「日本」に設定
  13. Fetch as Googleで主な記事のインデックスを個別URLごとにリクエスト
  14. 「ケンブリッジMBA 非公式」等で検索ヒットする(インデックス依頼から数時間)ようになったことを確認
  15. Wordpress.com上で自動生成されるhttps://cambridgembajapan.wordpress.com/sitemap.xmlをGoogle Webmasterから送信
  16. 他のCambridge MBAブログに、サイト移行記事を書いてもらうよう依頼(←イマココ)
  17. (あとは地味に役に立つ記事を投稿して「ケンブリッジMBA」等での検索結果ランキングが早期回復するように祈る)

上記のステップについては、FC2からのダウンロードや記事の修正方法をはじめ、Google Webmasterの使い方など、以下のサイトがとても役に立ちました。
FC2からWordPressへ移転・引っ越しする手順を冷静に考えた

7/10追記)
インデックス登録がされてからまだ数日ですが、とりえず平均検索順位は順調に回復しているようです。

7 Jun 2015

What if the clean-tech sector adopts more regulated approach like the pharmaceutical and biotech sector?

A sharp decline (from £210M in 2012 to £70M in 2014) in investment into the cleantech is a sort of reasonable response from private risk money. To put it simply, the balance between risk and return is almost broken. This is my personal, possibly unique, observation by being in cleantech after completing an MBA with healthcare concentration, with an undergraduate degree in political science.

Two issues of cleantech investment
Cleantech, arguably defined by reducing greenhouse gas emission such as CO2, might require a totally different approach, if we seriously addressing the climate change problems while aiming for modest financial returns. However, there are a few crucial issues in the cleantech sector to overcome the situation:

  • From a perspective of economics of energy sources, coal, oil, and gas are too competitive  compared with clean energy sources. Possibly competitive and stable (or base for civilisation) sources are hydroelectric and geothermal, both of which are biased geographically, unfortunately; and
  • Clean technologies need longer (mostly more than 5 years, which is similar to the pharmaceutical and biotech sector) shot of investment than typical venture capital's timeframe, since fundamental technologies develop linearly, not exponentially as in the IT or computing sector.

Due to these two fundamental factors, private risk money won't be invested into the cleantech sector because there are more attractive opportunities for the money. In short, the cleantech is too risky but its expected return is not high enough to compensate the risk.

Plausible solutions
So what kind of solutions can the sector pursue? It is quite basic: both increasing return while reducing risk, obviously. The latter is better addressed than the former, from my perspective. One example in the UK is this Cleantech hub idea in London: Proposed CleanTech hub to end green investment drought?

To address the former, one good example might be the highly regulated pharmaceutical and biotech sector. The healthcare sector allows a monopoly rent for initial years through regulations to incentivise R&D into such fields, which benefit human beings in the long run. Without such regulatory, thus artificial, monopoly, no one would invest in several hundred million dollars to such a risky business.

Two micro and macro pitfalls
Of course there is plausible pitfalls if the cleantech sector implement this idea of rigid regulations.

On one hand in micro level, by the nature of technology, it is difficult to identify the core patent or intellectual property. As it is based on piled past researches and likely cross-licensing between firms, such as in the electronics industry, it is hard to define what should be protected by regulatory.

To put it differently, usually cleantech products cannot be standalone as those in the healthcare sector, where a product or drug means an identified molecule or chemical material. However, since medical devices, which should have similar features as electronics and thus cleantech products, are also regulated, this could be sorted out if carefully and thoroughly discussed and socially and politically agreed.

On the other hand in macro level, issues related to energy are prone to be a political agenda as energy security is, at least for some resource-less countries, crucial for a government to maintain its sovereignty. Therefore, it is difficult to share a common interest among governments, leading to fragmented approach by each: but this has to be solved as soon as possible to avoid catastrophic changes in global climate.

Europe could lead this discussion because it's coordination between governments are at least tried a lot, and geopolitically, it is far from the next consumption giant: China (and India in the longer run). It is indeed a must to involve them to cap GHG emission drastically, otherwise they consume [really!!] a lot of fossil fuels in coming decades (see below), which will exacerbate the situation to irreversible status. I don't blame them as I totally understand their willing to catch up to better quality of life.

Source: Charting the outcome of the Obama – China climate deal by 2030 (Whats Up With That? ,2015)

9 Mar 2015

Duck in the Formal

This is quite Cambridge-like.
Duck in the Formal.

5 Feb 2015

Some good news for overall startup community in the UK and especially for female entrepreneurs, but very bad for cleantech :-(

Some good news, and really bad news, according to 'the leading source of market intelligence on business funding in the UK'. (note; All the following graphs are picked up from the Beauhurst's report: Beauhurst Making Sense of UK Equity Investment 2014/15 Public Summary).

Good news comes first. Total number of deals and size of investment increased to more than one thousand deals and £2.3b invested. 
Total # deals and £ investment per year (Beauhurst, 2015)
Furthermore, the more you have female directors, the more you raise (forget about selection bias and correlation v.s. causation ;-p). This is good for us since our team has two female co-founders. 
Average deal size by number of female directors on the board (Beauhurst, 2015)

The next comes a bit complication: a trend toward crowdfunding that is replacing angel networks, especially in seed deals. As we seek a route of B2B business, this might become a hurdle for us to persuade less experienced investors who do not necessarily understand technologies. As we ask for not only money but also experience from seed investors, maybe we should focus on trying angel networks in Cambridge.
50% of seed deals and 20% of venture deals will be crowdfunded this year. (Beauhurst, 2015)
Angel networks now only account for 10% of seed deals. (Beauhurst, 2015)

The worst news is that the amount of  money invested into cleantech dropped by 60% in 2014, and the average size shrank down to less than £2M, which is smaller than the overall average size of £2.3M. This is really against as generally cleantech is more capital intensive.
Cleantech deals dropped significantly in 2014 (Beauhurst, 2015)
The hype might have gone; yet we have to give a go this year. Whatever we'd end up, we find excitement out of the journey. 

31 Jan 2015

Summary of the Cambridge MBA courses I studied: what I liked (and not), and how I had to be collaborative actually.

As I compared the Cambridge MBA with other schools in the previous post, I (finally) felt like objectively seeing the courses (recapping them might follow later).

In a retrospective review, I liked (and disliked) the following courses most:

Yet, satisfaction with a course does not necessarily mean a good result ...interestingly and sadly they are barely correlated (r=0.16).
Marks seems almost irrelevant to how I am stimulated by or satisfied with courses.

*Satisfaction is defined as an average score (1-10) between intellectual stimulation and personal fit to a lecturer; a relative mark is comparatively scaled based on my personal range between highest and lowest marks.

However, marks are approximately 40% determined by (in most cases) collaborative group works.
One example of how collaboration is included in marks (NB: weighted total of course depends on elective choices)

When you compare three terms, interestingly, the first term, Michaelmas, was more individualistic, while the last term, Easter, required a lot of class participations. On a different note, the second term, Lent, was the busiest term as there were a lot of group assignments while preparing for the coming GCP. However, when busy you learn a lot.

In my opinion, Michaelmas courses also should (and could) have engaged students more, to set up a pace of studying individually (yet for me this was good as I skipped some to join courses and events in different departments of the Uni).