Advisers Voices & Feedbacks


“If you have a lemon, make lemonade”

Keisuke Omori

President of Toshiba International Foundation

What’s the story behind this Web project?
In August 2020, I met with our partners at ASJA International, Kazuhisa Matsuoka, its secretary-general, and Chikako Hagihara, the manager, to discuss what to do about TYCA in 2020. The program had started in 2014, and was about to enter its 7th year, but it was clear that spread of the novel coronavirus through Asia and Japan made it impossible to follow the established format.

The alumni of the first six TYCA alumni now total 100, and in the last six years many of them have entered a new stage of their lives: some have gone on from high school to university; others have graduated and started a profession. This gave us the idea of asking participants to share their voices with us in the form of essays, so that we could follow the milestones in their lives, understand where they are now, and what kind of world they live in. I am happy to say that 75 of 100 alumni and 14 advisors accepted our invitation and took part in the project. Their voices and personalities ring out clearly in their essays.

My direct involvement in TYCA began with Vol. 3, when I spent a week at the Yoyogi Olympic Center getting to know some future alumni. Reading the essays, I was pleased to discover that, even as they deal with spiritual and other conflicts on their own paths, many of the alumni are making solid progress toward the future, and realizing their own unique experiences. I also learned that many of them continue to value TYCA’s theme, “Future Vision,” as their own.

Japanese anime is very popular all over the world, and one enduring anime manga is “Anpanman,” a huge favorite among small children, and a national hero. The character was created by Takashi Yanase from his firm belief that “helping people in need is ultimate justice.” He first started drawing the manga, in which Anpanman gives a piece of his face to feed hungry people, for an adult audience.

For a long time, the manga was unpopular, unfortunately, but Mr. Yanase did not let this influence his core beliefs, and continued to draw Anpanman, while changing the characters and scenarios of the manga. Gradually, Anpanman finally reached its current immovable position as an animation for kids.

The manga became a series of picture books when Mr. Yanase was 54 years old, and became a TV program when he was 69, which gives you an idea of how long he maintained his beliefs. As a younger man, he made a living as a broadcast writer, designer, and lyricist, but it was only in his mid-50s that Yanase’s life began to flourish. It is widely believed that the reason for the rise to popularity was the appearance in the manga of a villain “Baikinman (Bacteria Man).” Before that, the only characters were all on the side of justice, so it was Baikinman who secured the success of Anpanman.

Many of the essays describe how the coronavirus has disrupted plans, led to feelings of defeat, or made goals more distant. One option here is to pursue the course your instincts have called you to take, even if it takes a little longer than expected. Or you may find that the path you have had taken is not what you were really looking for, and strike out in another direction. One thing that is certain is that there is no single wasteful moment in your life.

Talking a little bit about me, I aimed to follow an academic path when I was in my fourth year of university. However, I failed the entrance examination for the graduate school I was aiming for, and I suddenly felt at a loss and did not know what to do with my life. I had to repeat a year at university, and when I was thinking about a theme of my choice for a one-year seminar, I happened to meet and get to know the author of a book about a new generation of television broadcasting that I picked up at a bookstore. He encouraged me to join an evening class for young students of my same age who aspired to become journalists.

After pondering what I really wanted to do, I decided to work as a public relations officer on the corporate side (now Toshiba), getting involved in journalism from a different angle. In the end, I spent 25 years in the world of public relations at Toshiba, and through connections with people I had gotten to know during that time, I next worked on an assignment to promote corporate social responsibility, and now I work for a public foundation that contributes to society.

“If have get a lemon, make lemonade,” said Dale Carnegie, the American writer. In that spirit, I want to turn the appearance of this latest Baikinman, the novel coronavirus, into a basis for my own learning, and for looking forward.

In Japanese, “positive” (mae-muki) literally means to look forward, but I don’t think it means we are never supposed to look back. It is also different from simple positive thinking, as you don’t even have to ignore any negatives in your mind. While looking back often, I want to keep my head up, and continue to move forward, like our TYCA alumni. I will close with a passage from Anpanman’s theme song, “Why have you been born?”

What is your happiness? What give you joy?
I don’t want to end without knowing them!
Don’t forget your dreams, don’t spill your tears,
That’s why you keep jumping on and on,
That’s right, don’t be afraid, for the sake of everyone,
Only love and courage are your friends










なにが君のしあわせ なにをしてよろこぶ
わからないままおわる そんなのはいやだ!
忘れないで夢を こぼさないで涙
だから君は とぶんだ どこまでも
そうだ おそれないで みんなのために

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