Nobel, heroism and IMF

The past week has been full of different happenings. On Tuesday I went down to Kyoto to congratulate the Japanese Nobel Prize winner in medicine, Professor Shinya Yamanaka. He is a brilliant researcher and the same time a very humble human being. I was struck by his intelligence and clear thinking. I cannot refrain from feeling especially happy that he is a professor at Kyoto University, the university where I spent three years as a foreign student doing research in Japanese history 1972-76.

The day after, I went to Sendai to participate in the so-called Sendai Dialogue, where questions on how to cope with large disasters were discussed. I also participated in a field trip to Arahama, a community severely struck by the tsunami on March 11 last year. The principal of the Arahama Elementary School, Mr. Takao Kawamura, explained how he managed to get all the students up on the top floor of the building after the earthquake. There they could see how the tsunami destroyed everything around them. His actions saved many lives and in my view he is a real hero. He could have neglected to follow procedures, since it took over an hour after the earthquake for the tsunami to hit, and the electricity was out, and he had no information to rely on what was going to happen, but he insisted that they all should stay on the roof, just in case.

Later, in the evening the same day I went to Haneda International Airport to welcome our Minister of Finance, Mr. Anders Borg and our Minister for International Cooperation, Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, who are here for the 2012 Tokyo Annual Meetings of the IMF. The meetings will continue over the weekend.


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