“Failure is like a badge of honor,” says U.S. Ambassador Hagerty

Special talk session on Japan-U.S. relations and leadership

On December 6, his Excellency Mr. William F. Hagerty, the United States Ambassador to Japan, spoke on Japan-U.S. relations, particularly on national security and economic relations, in a special talk session held at Waseda’s International Conference Center.

From left: Ambassador William F. Hagerty, and professors Kazunari Uchida and Koji Aiba of Waseda Business School

Ambassador Hagerty started his career at Boston Consulting Group, which brought him to Tokyo for three years. He served as CEO and board member of multiple companies with extensive operations in Asia and Europe. In addition to his work in the private sector, Ambassador Hagerty has experience working in government at both the federal and state levels, such as serving as staff member to former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, whom there was a moment of silence for his passing on November 30 at the start of the event.

After the welcome speech and opening address by University President Aiji Tanaka and Professor Shuji Yanai, former Japanese ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Hagerty was joined by Professor Kazunari Uchida and Professor Koji Aiba of Waseda Business School to discuss matters such as the security concern with North Korea as well as the stance Japan should take in between the United States and China in terms of trade.

“I think that the relationship that the U.S. and Japan enjoy today is an exceptional one. It is the strongest in the world,” Ambassador Hagerty said during the special talk session.

When asked how Japanese education and corporate systems could change in order for young people in Japan to become a leader, Ambassador Hagerty answered that education systems could make it easier for students to work or take time for long-term study abroad, and corporates could invest more in research in development, as well as take on more external board members to transform their companies and leadership. Additionally, Ambassador Hagerty mentioned the role of innovation in Japan, and spoke on the importance of taking risks.

“Culturally, I understand that taking a risk is very hard in Japan because failure is very complicated here. If you go to Silicon Valley, you will meet some young person who is not much older than you. It is not uncommon that they failed a business start-up. In Silicon Valley, failure is like a badge of honor that you have learned some hard lessons. So my advice to you is to step out, take a leak, and take a risk. If you fail, learn from it, get up, and try again.”

Ever since forging ties with the California State University System in 1964, Waseda University has signed university-wide agreements with 92 universities and academic research institutes in the United States, facilitating mobility of students and researchers among the two countries for more than half a century. Furthermore, many American leaders have spoken at Waseda, including former American presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Moreover, Waseda University opened its U.S. Office in San Francisco in July 2012.

The University will continue to put focus efforts in producing leaders and building its friendly relationship with the United States.

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