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LES Japan Celebrates its 30th Birthday

The past year was a busy one for LES Japan. After the LESI International Conference was held last April in Osaka, LES Japan held its annual symposium on November 15 and 16 in Hiroshima, a world known city along the Seto-Inland Sea. This year's symposium had a special meaning, as it marked the 30th anniversary of LES Japan. About 130 attendees enjoyed this annual gathering at a resort hotel where guests enjoyed a panoramic view of inland sea and islands. At the reception of Day 1, the following distinguished guests honored us with their presence: Mr. Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima City; Dr. Taizo Muta, President of Hiroshima University and Mr. Ryoichi Hasegawa, Senior Managing Director of Mazda Motor Corp. We also enjoyed the company of Mr. Edwin Shalloway and Mr. Heinz Goddar, both from LES International, and Mr. Yoon Bae Kim of LES Korea.

On behalf of LESI, Ed Shalloway gave a speech of congratulations, and announced for the first time that LES International had chosen LES Japan as the first recipient of its new Special Award. The Special Award, it was explained, had been newly established and is to be presented to a local chapter whose performance and contribution was deemed by LESI to be outstanding. In closing his address, Ed asked Mr. Fukuda of LES Japan to join him at the podium and awarded the Special Award plaque. Day 2 was a session for education. Dr. Muta of Hiroshima University explained how his university had tackled the issue of university-industry collaboration. Hiroshima University is known as a public-funded university with a full range of health-care oriented faculties including the departments of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and medical treatment for A-bomb victims. In last three years, the number of patent applications filed by the University has significantly increased. Dr. Muta said that technology transfer is expected to accelerate with the forming of a team of licensing coordinators within his university.

Following Dr. Muta, Mr. Hasegawa from Mazda discoursed on the history of his company's innovation and elaborated on how knowledge management (KM) and information technology (IT) has been integrated into corporate management. As CFO and the officer responsible for IT-solutions/e-business, Mr. Hasegawa explained how the corporate innovation was implemented, namely, by both in a vertical move initiated by the top management, coupled with horizontal activities at its non-supervisory staff level. Seeing the latter was highly effective for corporate innovation, the company actively supported such intra-company voluntary activities of small groups, which set certain specific goals for the improvement of working environments and productivity. The annual LESJ symposium for 2003 is going to be held in July at the Kazusa Academy Park in Chiba Prefecture.

(By Jinzo Fujino, Published in the LES Japan's Newsletter "WINDS from Japan" January, 2003)

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