A Tokyo-based think tank sharing better ideas for Japan and the world
About us

Trustees and Auditors

Co-founder and Chairman
Yoichi Funabashi, Ph.D.
Former Editor-in-Chief, The Asahi Shimbun (2007-2010)

Yoichi Funabashi is an award-winning Japanese journalist, columnist and author. He has written extensively on foreign affairs, the US-Japan Alliance, economics and historical issues in the Asia Pacific.

He has a distinguished career as a journalist. He served as correspondent for the Asahi Shimbun in Beijing (1980-81) and Washington (1984-87), and as US General Bureau Chief (1993-97). In 2016 he became the first Japanese laureate of Stanford University’s prestigious Shorenstein Journalism Award. In 2013 he won the Oya Soichi Nonfiction Award for his book on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident ‘Countdown to Meltdown,’ he won the Japan Press Award known as Japan’s “Pulitzer Prize” in 1994 for his columns on international affairs, his articles in Foreign Affairs and Foreign Policy won the Ishibashi Tanzan Prize in 1992 and in 1985 he received the Vaughn-Ueda Prize for his reporting on international affairs.

His books in English include: The Peninsula Question (Brookings Institution Press, 2007); Reconciliation in the Asia-Pacific, ed. (USIP, 2003,); Alliance Tomorrow, ed. (Tokyo Foundation, 2001); Alliance Adrift (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1998, winner of the Shincho Arts and Sciences Award); Asia-Pacific Fusion: Japan’s Role in APEC (Institute for International Economics, 1995, winner of the Mainichi Shimbun Asia Pacific Grand Prix Award); and Managing the Dollar: From the Plaza to the Louvre (1988 winner of the Yoshino Sakuzo Prize).

As Co-founder and Chairman of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation he oversaw the “Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident” (Routledge, 2011) that was ranked in the top 24 policy reports produced by a think-tank in the ‘2012 Global Go-to Think Tank Ranking.’ Since its establishment in 2012, RJIF has published several influential reports on a broad range of key policy challenges facing Japan and the Asia-Pacific. These include: Japan’s Population Implosion: The 50 Million Shock (Shinchosha, 2015); Examining Japan’s Lost Decades (Routledge, 2015); The Decline of Postwar Moderate Conservatism in Japan (Kadokawa Shinsho, 2015); Anatomy of Yoshida Testimony (RJIF, 2015); Quiet Deterrence: Building Japan’s New National Security Strategy, (RJIF 2014); Japan in Peril? 9 Crisis Scenarios (CLSA, 2014); DPJ Administration: Challenges and Failures (Chuokoron Shinsha, 2013).

He received his B.A. from the University of Tokyo in 1968 and his Ph.D. from Keio University in 1992. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University (1975-76), a visiting Fellow at the Institute for International Economics (1987), a Donald Keene Fellow at Columbia University (2003), a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo Public Policy Institute (2005-2006) and a distinguished guest professor at Keio University (2011-2014).

He serves as an active member of several boards, advisory committees and communities. These include: former board member of the International Crisis Group, and a current member of the Trilateral Commission; the World Economic Forum; the Committee for Reforming TEPCO and Overcoming 1F Challenges; the expert committee to discuss the mid-long term direction for the Japan International Cooperation Agency; and the Cabinet Office’s Disaster Risk Reduction 4.0 Future Framework Project. He has been a member of the selection committees for the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities since 2001 and for the Jiro Osaragi Prize since 2010; in 2016 he joined the interview panel for the second class of the Schwarzman Scholars program. Previously he was a member of the Committee to Reform the Foreign Ministry (advisory board to Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi) from 2002-2003, and a member of the “21st Century Japan’s Goal” commission (advisory board to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi) from 1999-2000. He regularly writes for the opinion sections of the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post and the Japan Times. He is a former contributing editor of Foreign Policy, and sits on the editorial board of The Washington Quarterly.

His articles and papers in English include: “Japan sees an opportunity for a reset with Russia” (Financial Times, 7 December 2016); “A message from Asia-Pacific to President-elect Trump” (The Strait Times, 16 November 2016); “The Trump Effect on Tokyo” (The New York Times, 15 November 2016); “Despite Trump’s wishes, America can’t turn its back on Japan and South Korea” (Washington Post, 18 August 2016); “Japan Trains Others to Enforce Law in East, South China Seas” (Yale Global Online, 19 May 2016); “Japan’s Silver Pacifism” (The National Interest, Jan/Feb 2016); “What will the TPP mean for China” (China File, 9 October 2015); “What is America’s Purpose? (The National Interest, Sept/Oct 2015); “Japan’s Gray-Haired Pacifism” (The International New York Times, 13 August 2015); “Japan needs to think big on Asian strategy” (East Asia Forum, 21 June 2015); “The west can look for answers in Japan’s lost decades” (Financial Times, 1 May 2015); “Japan Must Join China’s Bank” (The International New York Times, 23 April 2015); “A futile boycott of China’s bank will not push Xi out of his back yard” (Financial Times, 9 December 2014); “Fukushima in review: a complex disaster, a disastrous response” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 2012); “Lessons from Japan’s nuclear accident” (East Asia Forum, 26 March 2012); “The end of Japanese illusions”(New York Times, 11 March 2012); “My findings in Japan’s existential fallout” (Financial Times, 9 March 2012); “Fukushima in review: A complex disaster, a disastrous response” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” (1 March 2012); “Challenges for Rising Asia and Japan’s Role” (Yale Global Online, September 2010); “Forget Bretton Woods II: the Role for U.S.-China-Japan Trilateralism” (Washington Quarterly, April 2009); “No One Model for Global Economy” (Yale Global Online, March 2009); “Keeping Up With Asia” (Foreign Affairs, September/October 2008); “Power of Ideas: The US is Losing its Edge” (Global Asia, Fall 2007); “Stuck on the Sidelines”, (Newsweek International, 5 March 2007); “Koizumi landslide: the China factor” (Yale Global Online, 15 September 2005); “The world should also have a vote”(International Herald Tribune, 25 March 2004); “Koizumi opens a Pandora’s box”(Financial Times, 7 January 2004); “China is preparing a ‘peaceful ascendancy’ ” (International Herald Tribune, 30 December 2003); “Learning from five years of trialogue” (China-Japan-US: Meeting New Challenges, 2002); “Northeast Asia’s strategic dilemmas” (Assessing the Threats, 2002); “Asia’s digital challenge”(Survival, Spring 2002); “Japan’s unfinished success story” (Japan Quarterly 2001); “Japan’s moment of truth” (Survival, Winter 2000-01); “International perspectives on national missile defense: Tokyo’s temperance” (The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000); “Tokyo’s depression diplomacy” (Foreign Affairs, November / December 1998); “Thinking trilaterally” (China-Japan-US: Managing the Trilateral Relationship, Japan Center for International Exchange, 1998); and “Bridging Asia’s economics-security gap” (Survival, Winter 1996-97).

Takeshi Niinami
President & CEO, Suntory Holdings Limited

Mr. Niinami started his career in 1981 at Mitsubishi Corporation. In 1995, he was appointed CEO of Sodex Corporation, a food service joint venture between Mitsubishi and Sodexho, France. In 2002, he was appointed President & CEO, Lawson, Inc., then the Chairman of the Board in May 2014. Mr. Niinami assumed the post of Advisor of Suntory Holdings Limited on August 1, 2014, then became the President & CEO on October 1, 2014. He has served as Member of the Tax Commission of the Government since 2013, as well as a Member of the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy since 2014. Mr. Niinami is a graduate with honors from Harvard Business School.

M. James Kondo
Chairman, Board of Directors, International House of Japan

Co-Chair, Silicon Valley Japan Platform (SVJP)
Co-Chair, Asia Society Japan Center.

Formerly, Vice President, Twitter, Inc, Chairman, Twitter Japan KK; Special Advisor at the Cabinet Office and Director at the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Japan; and management consultant at McKinsey.
Selected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos), Asia21 Fellow by Asia Society, and Inamori Fellow by the Inamori Foundation.
In the social sector, co-founder of TABLE FOR TWO and Beyond Tomorrow. A
board member of International House of Japan.
Graduate of Keio University and Harvard Business School, and Yale World Fellow.

Nobuyoshi John Ehara
Founder, Partner, UNISON CAPITAL Inc.

Mr. Nobuyoshi John Ehara co-founded Unison Capital in 1998. Unison Capital, a pioneer in the private equity business in Japan, is among the nation’s leading firms today. Mr. Ehara has spearheaded the firm since its inception, building its team and operations. Mr. Ehara was instrumental in establishing the Private Equity Association of Japan and served as its first Chairman from 2005 to 2007. He was again appointed to the position of the Chairman in July, 2013. He was appointed as a member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum in 2018.

Prior to founding Unison Capital, Mr. Ehara spent sixteen years as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, building its franchise in Japan. In 1988, he became the first Japanese to be selected General Partner of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Ehara worked at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in New York and Tokyo between 1978 and 1980. Mr. Ehara holds a B.S. in Architecture and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Makoto Takano
CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Forbes JAPAN
Founder & CEO, D4V

Mr. Takano joined Daiwa Securities after receiving his master’s degree from Waseda University and later joined Daiwa Institute of Research where he was head of the strategist team. He was seconded to Daiwa Securities’ United States office in 1991 where he co-developed asset management models with Nobel Economics Prize Winner Harry Marcovitz. He joined Goldman Sachs Asset Management in 1997 and served as Head of Marketing as well as Operating Officer & Chief of Planning and Research before joining PIMCO Japan Ltd. in 2001. Mr. Takano served as President of PIMCO Japan for 13 years. In 2014, Mr. Takano moved on to the publishing industry and became CEO of Atomixmedia Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes JAPAN. He also co-founded D4V (Design for Ventures, a venture capital formed in partnership with IDEO) in 2016 and currently serves as its CEO.

Mr. Takano serves on the board of a number of organizations, including GHV Accelerator, Endeavor Japan, Japan Venture Capital Association, International School of Asia, Karuizawa (ISAK), Asia Pacific Initiative and Human Rights Watch. Mr. Takano has also published extensively on capital markets including his contribution to the Nikkei newspaper. In 1992, he was awarded Securities Analysts Journal Prize by the Securities Analyst Association of Japan. He holds master’s and undergraduate degrees in engineering from Waseda University.

Mamoru Taniya
Chairman and CEO of Asuka Holdings Inc.

He has broad range of investment experiences covering from fixed-income derivatives to private equities. His early career is illustrated by his successful years at Salomon Brothers he joined in 1987 where he became the youngest managing director in Asia and led the proprietary trading division for Japan and Asia as one of the pioneers in financial arbitrage trading in the region.
He then joined Tudor Capital (Japan) as one of the founding partners, and led an MBO to found Asuka Asset Management where he is CEO to date and has made it a leading independent hedge fund in Japan. Also he set up PE Fund, AD Capital (Mercuria) joint venture with DBJ to investment Asia .
As a venture capitalist, he initiated the launch of Lifenet Insurance Company, the first online insurance company, and invested in the development of “studio yoggy,” a pioneering yoga studio, which contributed to popularize Yoga widely in Japan. He started another venture company, Campus for H Inc., a health care company that develops and markets innovative corporate wellness programs, and promotes well-being including mindfulness, as well as Money Design Inc. which is the first Robo Advisor company as a founder. Also he and his team set up the corporate venture capital together with IDEO which is famous for Design thinking.
As a NGO/NPO,he also serves as Representative founder of International School of Asia, Karuizawa (UWCISAK), the first international boarding school in Japan, since its establishment. In addition he is Vice Chair Person of Human Rights Watch which is one of the world’s leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, Director of Asia Pacific Initiative Foundation and Board member of Endeavor Japan. . Mr. Taniya eived his B.A. in law from the University of Tokyo in 1987. rec

Teruhide Sato
Founder and Managing Partner, BEENEXT PTE. LTD.

Teruhide Sato was a founding member of the Japanese arm of CyberCash, a U.S. online payment company (now known as Veritrans), and a joint venture with SoftBank Corporation. During this time, in 1997, Mr. Sato was studying at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University. In 1999, he was co-founder of BEENOS (formerly known as netprice.com), a global internet and e-commerce business incubator. Mr. Sato took the company public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2004 as CEO. In 2010, he co-founded Open Network Lab, one of the earliest seed accelerator programs in Japan dedicated to raising domestic startups that developed globally competitive products. In 2015, he launched BEENEXT, an early stage focused venture capital firm in Singapore actively investing in South East Asia, India, Japan, and the U.S. Mr. Sato was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008. Mr. Sato is also a member of the board of BEYOND TOMORROW to support young victims of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Iwao Aso
President and CEO, Group Chairman, Aso Corporation

Established in 1872, Aso Group operates a variety of fields including healthcare, cement production and sales, and education.

In 1997, Iwao Aso started his first career at the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan (presently known as Shinsei Bank) after gaining experience as an intern student at HongKong Land and Colliers Jardine while majoring in Economics at Keio University. In addition to his main major, he studied International Economic Law under Professor Jiro Tamura (Faculty of Law, Keio University) and Competitive Strategy under Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi (Hitotsubashi University) as a member of their seminar groups. Furthermore, he studied International Relations at the University of Cambridge in 1999.

In 2000, Iwao joined Aso Corporation where he primarily engaged in medical businesses by establishing a dedicated division. Since 2010, he serves as President and CEO and Group Chairman of Aso Corporation, after his experience of being Auditor, Director and Vice-President. His other board positions include Independent Director at DWANGO Co., Ltd., NITTOC CONSTRUCTION Co., Ltd. and TSUZUKI DENKI Co., Ltd.

Minako Suematsu
Chairperson and Publisher, The Japan Times, Ltd.

Born in Hiroshima Prefecture, Minako Suematsu received a master’s degree from Gakushuin University Graduate School. She then started up an Internet-related business, getting involved in website production and online marketing.
In 2001, she established News2u Corporation as a company promoting Internet advertising.
In 2017, she became CEO of News2u Holdings, Inc. In June 2017, Minako became representative director, chairperson, and publisher of The Japan Times, which celebrated its 120th anniversary of its inaugural issue and has reported on the current situation in Japan as well as global trends as “Japan’s window to the world.”

News2u Holdings, Inc.: CEO
Next Educational Environment Development Inc.: Managing Director
Miroku no Sato Japanese Language School, International Institute of Culture: Chairperson

Shinsuke Muto, Ph.D.
President, Tetsuyu Institute Medical Corporation
Chairman, Integrity Healthcare Co., Ltd.

With two decades of experience in the field of medicine, Dr. Shinsuke Muto is a certified internal medicine specialist and cardiologist who passed the US medical licensing examination (California) and holds both US CPA (Delaware) and EMBA (INSEAD), MPH (Johns Hopkins).

After graduating from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Tokyo in 1996, he received his doctorate later in 2002. With experience in cardiovascular internal medicine and emergency medicine, he also served as a court physician to the Imperial Household Agency before joining McKinsey & Company. In 2010, he launched Tetsuyu Institute Medical Corporation in Japan.

In 2015, he established Tetsuyu Healthcare Holdings with his INSEAD colleague in Singapore, and became a chairman of Integrity Healthcare in 2016.

Lin Kobayashi
Chair of the Board, UWC ISAK Japan

Ms. Kobayashi founded UWC ISAK Japan, a residential high school that opened in Karuizawa in 2014. UWC is an international education organization with a history reaching back 55 years that aims to cultivate courageous action, selfless leadership, peace and a sustainable future through education. Most students who attend UWC schools are selected to attend by national committees in 159 countries and territories worldwide. On August 1, 2017, UWC ISAK Japan became the 17th UWC.

Prior to UWC ISAK, Ms. Kobayashi had worked for UNICEF in the Philippines, where she conducted non-formal education projects for street children. She holds an MA in Education from Stanford University and a BA from the University of Tokyo. She was selected as Young Global Leader from the World Economic Forum in 2012, Change-maker of the Year 2013 by Nikkei Business, Woman of the Year 2015 by Nikkei Woman, and Yale World Fellow 2017.

Yasukane Matsumoto
Founder & CEO, RAKSUL INC.

Mr. Matsumoto started his career as a consultant in A.T. Kearny. While working on cost-cutting projects there, he realized the inefficiencies existed in the Japanese printing industry. In 2009, he founded Raksul Inc. with the vision to bring innovation to the printing industry.

In 2013, he launched raksul.com, e-commerce platform specializing in printing by utilizing existing printing factories’ excess capacity. In December 2015, he launched ‘hacobell’, a sharing economy platform for trucking services.

In 2018, Raksul Inc. was ranked first in “Startup of the Year” by Forbes Japan and is now listed on the Tokyo Stocks Exchange.


Akihisa Shiozaki
Attorney, Partner of Nagashima Ohno and Tsunematsu

Mr. Shiozaki is a partner of Nagashima Ohno and Tsunematsu, one of Japan’s leading law firms, Mr. Shiozaki is recognized for his expertise in corporate crisis management, including regulatory investigations, white color defense, product recall, labor/employment disputes, and various corporate governance issues, especially those with multi-jurisdictional or parallel civil and criminal components. In recent years, he has advised both domestic and foreign clients in resolving many high profile corporate crises, including the LIBOR/TIBOR manipulation investigation, FX manipulation investigation, global product recall by a Japan auto-parts manufacturer, international trade secret theft in the semiconductor industry, government investigations against a global pharmaceutical corporation operating in Japan, and his representation of the former CEO of Olympus Corporation who brought light to the company’s recent accounting scandal.
Mr. Shiozaki worked in the Prime Minister’s office as senior policy advisor from 2006 to 2007 and is knowledgeable in Japanese regulations /rules and governmental procedures, as well as having rich experience dealing with the media. He also serves as the vice-chairman of the Anti-Yakuza Committee at the Daiichi Tokyo Bar Association and has authored many related publications. In addition, he served as one of the core working group members in the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident. He graduated from the University of Tokyo (LL.B.), holds an M.A. in international policy from Stanford University, and completed his MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he served as class president. In 2017, he was awarded the Compliance / Investigations Lawyer of the Year at the Asian Legal Awards hosted by The American Lawyer, in association with The Asian Lawyer, China Law & Practice and Legal Week. Mr. Shiozaki co-authored “Japan’s Worst Case Scenario – Nine Blind Spots” (2013) , “The Democratic Party of Japan in Power” (2013) and many other articles.