Beyond Abenomics: Priorities & Challenges for Japan’s New Prime Minister Kishida

The Silicon Valley Japan Platform held its December monthly Benkyokai webinar on the topic of “Beyond Abenomics: Priorities and Challenges for Japan’s New Prime Minister Kishida”

On October 4, Fumio Kishida was sworn in as Japan’s 100th Prime Minister. His administration takes the stage at a pivotal moment for Japan as the nation slowly recovers from the pandemic and begins its post-covid journey. After the unprecedented long terms of former prime minister Abe and Suga’s following tumultuous year in office, the world watches closely to see what legacy Kishida’s administration will build. 

In its December Benkyokai, the SVJP welcomed Jesper Koll, Expert Director for the Monex Group and Japan Catalyst Fund, and Harukata Takenaka, Professor at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies. With their guiding expertise, we learned more about what we can expect from the new Japanese government on a social, economic, and political level. The discussion was moderated by Glen S. Fukushima, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress focused on US-East Asia relations.


Jesper Koll has been researching and investing in Japan since becoming a resident in 1986. Over the past two decades, Jesper has been consistently recognized as one of the top Japan strategists/economists, having worked as Chief Strategist and Head of Research for U.S. investment banks J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch. He currently serves as Expert Director for the Monex Group and the Japan Catalyst Fund (Japan’s 1st retail investor based corporate engagement/activist fund). His analysis and insights have earned him a position on several Japanese government and corporate advisory committees, including Governor Yuriko Koike’s Advisory Board. Jesper serves as Board Director of OIST, the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology and is a Founder and Board Director of the Asia Society Japan and heads their Policy Committee. He is one of the few non-Japanese members of the Keizai Doyukai, the Japan Association of Corporate Executives; and serves on the board of several Japan-based start-ups. He has written three books in Japanese and, in 2021, created the acclaimed video/pod-cast series “Japan – Capitalism that works”. 

Jesper is an economist, angel-investor, patron; and yes, a Japan Optimist. 

Harukata Takenaka is a Professor at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies where he teaches graduate seminars and courses on Contemporary Japanese Politics, Comparative Politics, Democratization, and International Political Economy. He began his career at the Ministry of Finance, International Finance Bureau in 1993 and became the Chief Examiner for the Secretariat for the Headquarters on Reforms and Central Governments, the Japanese Government in 1998 to 1999.  Dr. Takenaka has written several publications including Korona kiki no Seiji [Politics of Covid 19 Crisis] (Tokyo: Chuokoron Shinsha, 2020) and Failed Democratization in Prewar Japan: Breakdown of a Hybrid Regime (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014).  Dr. Takanaka received his Bachelor of Law from the University of Tokyo, and MA and PhD from Stanford University, Department of Political Science.

Glen S. Fukushima is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, a public policy think tank  headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he focuses on  U.S.-East Asia relations. On October 14, President Joe Biden nominated him to serve in the Senate-confirmed position of Vice Chair of the SIPC (Securities Investor Protection Corporation). He divides his time between  Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Tokyo.  

From 1990 to 2012, Mr. Fukushima was a senior  business executive based in Asia representing several  major multinational corporations: Vice President,  AT&T Japan; President, Arthur D. Little Japan;  President & CEO, Cadence Design Systems Japan;  President & CEO, NCR Japan; and President & CEO,  Airbus Japan. He was elected to serve for two terms as  President of the American Chamber of Commerce in  Japan, then the largest American Chamber outside the  United States. 

Before his business career, he served in Washington,  D.C. as Director for Japanese Affairs (1985-1988) and  Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for  Japan and China (1988-1990) at the Office of the United  States Trade Representative (USTR), Executive Office  of the President. In 1993, he declined an offer to be the  Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International  Economic Policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce.  He began his career as an attorney at the law firm of  Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.  

Mr. Fukushima has served on numerous corporate  boards of directors, advisory boards, and government  advisory councils in the United States, Europe, and  Japan. He has served on the board of the Japan  Association of Corporate Executives, America-Japan  Society, Japan Center for International Exchange,  National Association of Japan-America Societies, Japan  Society of Boston, Japan Society of Northern California,  Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C.,  International House of Japan, Japanese American  National Museum, U.S.-Japan Council, International  Student Conferences, and Global Council of the Asia  Society.  

Mr. Fukushima has been a member of the Council on  Foreign Relations since 1993. Until June 2001, he served  for eight years in the White House-appointed positions  of Vice Chairman of the Japan-United States Friendship  Commission and Vice Chairman of the U.S. panel of  CULCON (Joint Committee on United States-Japan  Cultural and Educational Interchange). He has served as  Chairman of the Mori Art Museum Best Friends,  member of the Director’s Circle of the San Francisco  Museum of Modern Art and of the Jade Circle of the  Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, and co-founder of  the Tokyo Committee of Human Rights Watch. He also  serves on the board of the Washington Bach Consort,  PostClassical Ensemble, and American Friends of the  Bach Collegium Japan. In 2016, he was appointed  Commissioner of the Smithsonian Institution’s National  Portrait Gallery, and in 2018, he was invited to join the  board of the Mori Art Museum. 

His publications include Nichi-Bei Keizai Masatsu no  Seijigaku [The Politics of U.S.-Japan Economic  Friction], winner of the 9th Masayoshi Ohira Memorial  Prize in 1993. He received the Excellence 2000 Award  from the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of  Commerce in 1999, the Alumni Hall of Fame Award  from Stanford University in 2002, and the Person of the  Year Award from the National Japanese American  Historical Society in 2008. Keio University awarded  him the status of Honorary Alumnus in 2012, and LEAP  (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics) conferred on  him its Leadership Award in 2014. He is listed in Who’s  Who in America

A native of California, Mr. Fukushima was educated at Stanford University, Harvard University Graduate  School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Business School, and Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he was awarded a  National Science Foundation Fellowship. He was a  Stanford/Keio Exchange Scholar at Keio University and  was a Fulbright Fellow and a Japan Foundation Fellow  at the Faculty of Law, University of Tokyo.