Ideas Worth Spreading (#oij and TED 2011)


If you tweet often, you might have noticed my recent tweets include a hashtag (#oij), and you might wonder what that stands for. Well, oij stands for Open Ideas Japan. A well known brain scientist in Japan, Kenichiro Mogi, has started this hashtag movement on Twitter after participating in the TED Conference 2011 and being inspired from it. He’s called on Japanese Twitter users to post their ideas that could make Japan better on Twitter. Since his call, this hashtag has been one of the most hot topics among Japanese Tweeter users. There is a number of good ideas posted by many Twitter users, and I have been very inspired by these ideas. However, I also think this movement could end up being just a venue for people’s complaints. It is, therefore, up to us (Japanese Twitter users and those who tweet in Japanese) to take actions from this movement. It has shown to me that a lot of people including myself are very frustrated at selfish Japanese politicians who only care about themselves and their abuse of power, job hunting that lasts forever, and the higher educational system in Japan etc.

Speaking of the employment system in Japan, as I stated in my earlier post, it entails a number of contradiction. I can give you an example here from my experience.

So a lot of companies in Japan claim that they care about diversity, are willing to hire from both undergraduate and graduate students, and would love to hire those who study abroad. Reading that, I was like, “Great! They will definitely value my experience from the US and El Salvador!” The truth is, however, far different from this. When I had an interview with one of the mega banks in Japan, the interviewer told me, “What have you been doing since you graduated from your undergraduate school? You might be able to speak English and Spanish but what else can you offer?” His point was that I would be 27 when I start working at this bank, and my to-be colleagues would be 22 years old. He indicated that people in my age at this bank know how things work in the bank whereas I have to start from the scratch (at the age of 27). I heard his internal voice that my experiences (grad school & Peace Corps) were useless and wastes of time, and therefore he and his bank do not value them. Wait wait, what happened to your “we care about diversity” bullshit? I thought this was a complete contradiction. I totally should have told him, “Hey, how many of your employees at the age of 27 can speak both English and Spanish? How many years do you think it takes for them to master two foreign languages? Considering that、 do you still think that my experiences were a waste of time? Wouldn’t you be willing to hire those who have studied abroad?” I was too chicken to say that though.

I always digress from the main topic when I talk about job hunting in Japan… Anyways, #oij has produced a number of good ideas that can change the above-mentioned situation. So if you speak Japanese and tweet, make sure to check it out and join the conversation!


On a different note, I was so fortunate to see the TED Conference 2011 through live streaming at my school this year. It was the first time for me to see the actual TED conference. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked! I could tell why Mr. Mogi has been so inspired to start #oij after participating in the TED conference. If you ever have a chance, I’d strongly encourage you to take that opportunity! I saw the sessions on Wednesday, March 2nd in which Bill Gates curated one of the sessions. Some talks were very very inspiring; others not so much especially the ones by CEOs of big corporations. I won’t get into details here but I put together my tweets about the TED 2011 (it’s in Japanese) so if you are interested in, please proceed from this link. Finally, I’d like to share a video from this year’s conference to end this post. This is one of my favorites talks, a talk by Mr. Wadah Khanfar, the head of Al Jaseera in which he talked about what has been going on in the Arab world.

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6 responses to “Ideas Worth Spreading (#oij and TED 2011)

  1. Thought provoking post!
    Like you, I’m not a huge of the entire employment system in japan. I don’t know if I could ever work there. I would feel like a droid.
    Anyway your insight is better than mine so it helps to update my knowledge base once in a while it also helps me reaffirm my reservations toward that part of japanese culture.

    Anywho, what’s TED or who’s TED?
    Besides the obvious fact of recognizing Teds around the world (Ted Lowe) what purposes does the conference serve?

  2. > Cliff

    Me neither. Having had some conversations and interviews with Japanese companies, I realized this is not my thing at all.

    TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. They hold a conference once a year and invite people who can share their good ideas. The speakers at TED conferences have different backgrounds so some people talk about how development projects in Nigeria have reduced poverty and others talk about his/her NPOs etc.

    You would have liked Salman Khan’s talk. He talked about how he started online math tutorial on YouTube and ended up quitting his job at a hedge-fund and started an NPO (Khan Academy).

  3. Except that in America, they value education and experience a lot more than in Japan. In fact, I’m actually having a difficult time finding a job (for reasons other than the structural dysfunctions) because of how young I am. Thought that was interesting to note.

  4. >Erimoto kun
    I’m having hard time finding a job both in the US and Japan, which totally sucks… The kind of job I’m looking for usually require 2-3 years of experiences, which I don’t have. And Japanese corporations want people without any experience or with 10+ experiences. demo I will definitely get something here…!

    >Bob shi
    When you go to any TED talk online, you see “Share” icon so click on it. Then, copy “WordPress.com” code and paste it on your post!

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