News & Highlights

  • MARCH 2021

Japan Immersive Field Course Virtual Reunion

The Japan Immersive Field Course (IFC, formerly known as IXP), led by Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi, has been offered as part of the elective curriculum within the MBA program for nine consecutive years since 2012. It started as a course that introduced students to the Tohoku region and the impact of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. This year marked the 10th anniversary, however because the course was canceled due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, Professor Hiro Takeuchi and JRC hosted a Virtual Reunion of past program participants. Approximately 130 people joined the session including past participants from around the globe, program partners and supporters from the Tohoku region, and HBS alumni.
  • DECEMBER 2020

Virtual Case Discussion with Professor Tomomichi Amano

On December 2, the JRC hosted an online case discussion with Professor Tomomichi Amano for HBS alumni and friends in Japan and other parts of the world. Professor Amano led a discussion on the case, Othellonia: Growing a Mobile Game, which he co-authored with Professor Eva Ascarza and Professor Sunil Gupta. Over 40 people joined the session and enjoyed a lively discussion.
  • NOVEMBER 2020

Webinar with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi: The Strategy of the Wise Company in a Post-Coronavirus World

Last November the JRC organized a webinar with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi in collaboration with Academy Hills, introducing HBS to a broad audience in Japan. Professor Takeuchi discussed the strategy of the Wise Company in a post-Coronavirus world based on his new book, The Wise Company: How Companies Create Continuous Innovation. Nearly 300 people joined the session and enjoyed an energetic talk by Professor Takeuchi.
  • October 2020

24 Hours of Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. The Japan Research Center contributed a program titled “Introduction of Japan through a Very Popular Course at HBS.” Nobuo Sato, Executive Director, introduced the activities of the JRC, and Hirotaka Takeuchi, Faculty Chair of the JRC and Professor of the popular course, Japan IFC, discussed the valuable lessons HBS students learn from the program; not only in culture or business but human experience.

New Research on the Region

  • 2021
  • Working Paper

Trade and the Single Car Market: The EC-Japan Elements of Consensus, 1985–1999

By: Grace Ballor

In 1991, in the midst of the program to create a liberal Single European Market and in the context of a new Joint Declaration for cooperation with Japan, the European Commission brokered a private deal to restrict Japanese imports into the European Community for nearly a decade (1993–1999). These “Elements of Consensus” developed from the collective efforts of European automakers and their business interest associations—the CCMC and ACEA—to shape the Community’s Common Commercial Policy and insulate themselves from the threat of Japanese competition (1985–1991). Drawing evidence from archival documents, this article reconstructs how European automakers lobbied the Commission for protections and how the Commission tried to use these protections as a means for regional market liberalization. As a result, it contributes new dimensions to scholarship on the influence of corporations in politics in general and the relationship between business and European integration in particular.

  • June 2021
  • Case

Nissan's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Ananth Raman, William Schmidt and Ann Winslow

In January 2020, Ashwani Gupta took over as COO at Nissan Motor Corporation, and several weeks later, the COVID-19 pandemic began. Nissan’s Business Continuity Plan (BCP) had been key to the resilience of Nissan’s supply chain. It had enabled Nissan to recover from past supply chain disruptions, mainly natural disasters, sooner than its competitors. This case describes the BCP, within the context of Nissan’s production methods, organizational principles and current financial position. It relates how Gupta managed the rapidly-evolving restrictions that the coronavirus pandemic required as it spread from China to other countries where Nissan’s assembly plants and suppliers were located. Based on his experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, Gupta considers how to improve the BCP. This case also covers a specific situation in India, where Nissan had to quickly find an alternate supplier for a unit of dashboard gauges. The team in India developed four options that can be evaluated by students.

  • June 2021
  • Case

Akira Fukabori and Kevin Kajitani at avatarin (A) (Abridged)

By: Linda A. Hill and Emily Tedards

In 2016, Akira Fukabori and Kevin Kajitani, aeronautical engineers at All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd., began to wonder why, in a world of accelerating globalization and digital connectivity, those who lived in far-remote villages or impoverished urban areas could not access high quality education or healthcare. They believed that with a faster, cheaper mode of transportation, they could democratize the world’s resources—bring the right people or resources together to the right places at the right time. Although teleportation was still the “stuff of science-fiction,” teleporting human consciousness and skills to remote locations through robots was not. Their vision was to build an “avatar service platform”—a global infrastructure of general-purpose avatar robots that humans could rent, like Uber or AirBnB, to perform surgery, defuse a bomb, visit elderly grandparents, attend school, or vacation in distant physical environments. In Akira and Kevin’s eyes, ANA was in the mobility business, not just the airline business. They influenced senior management to invest $22 million to fund the ANA AVATAR XPRIZE and, with ANA’s support, built a global avatar ecosystem of technologists, start-ups, corporations, non-profits, and government, including the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency. As they worked to advance the technology and regulatory landscape, they also generated demand for avatar services—for that, they needed to change the mindset of the general public. By 2020, the “ANA AVATAR” program, as they called it, had made significant progress, and Akira and Kevin initiated the process to spin out of ANA, and launch a start-up, “avatarin.” Then, COVID-19 upended reality. The years they thought it would take to create widespread demand for avatar-enabled telepresence had evaporated. Now, the question was, how should they deploy their start-up team to meet the humanitarian need, investor, and partner expectations? How should they respond to the demands of this unprecedented moment in human history?

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Tokyo Staff

Nobuo Sato
Executive Director
Akiko Kanno
Assistant Director
Akiko Saito
Senior Researcher
Yukari Takizawa
Office Manager