Table Speech

“My Educational Experiences and Lessons”

July 11, 2007

Ms. Kathy Matsui,
Managing Director and Chief Japan Strategist,
Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd.

 I am a second-generation Japanese-American born in the United States. After graduation from Harvard University I was fortunate to become scholarship student under the Rotary Foundation. I was able to come to Japan, thanks to the members of the Rotary Club. Subsequently, I took a masters degree in Japanese history and Japanese economy at Johns Hopkins University, and in 1990, I returned to Japan, took a job, got married, and 17 years have since passed.

 My father, after graduating from high school, traveled to the United States for one year as an agricultural trainee, and after several years upon his return he decided to go to the United States alone. He began growing chrysanthemums at a California farm. Then, he changed to growing roses. At that time, the size of the farm was 50 acres. He gained some success in growing roses and ultimately switched over to cultivating orchids and is now ranked among the leaders in orchid production in the United States.

 We, 2 girls and 2 boys, helped with the farm work during summer vacations and busy growing seasons and received money for the work we did. My father wanted to teach the value of money for work.

 My father did not know much outside of work. He woke up at 4:30 in the morning and worked in the field until 8 o’clock at night. He did not know any enjoyment outside of work.

 My father built success starting from scratch. However, it was not possible just by his efforts alone. He received lots of support from friends around him. The church took my sisters and me in into the nursery without charge. When my father purchased the farmland, the bank trusted him and made him a loan without any collateral.

 My father pondered, “What is your legacy?” Are you content with the fact that you became wealthy? Is it not necessary to repay the society that had given you support?

 My father created his own foundation 3 years ago. He transferred all of the assets of his company to the foundation and each year he began to give scholarships to 10-13 senior high school students in the community each year. He would not give us, his children, a cent. My father’s policy was that you are now independent and his duties as a father have been fulfilled. In my father’s farm, 150 are employed. Almost all are immigrants from Mexico. They are just like my father. My father intends to keep on giving scholarships even after his death until the assets run dry.

 I have also been able to enjoy the good life thanks to many who support me, and I have been able to raise 2 children successfully. I wanted to help people and repay society. This is the project with which I am involved.

 I am a member of the board of governors of a somewhat grand project called the Asian University for Women (AUW). The aim of AUW is to provide opportunities for higher education to women who live in poor communities in South East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East, and to create an educational environment that is without discrimination. AUW is a regular university with a 3 year curriculum, and there is also a graduate program. At the university, the students learn about skills useful in society after graduation. We plan to provide education primarily in the sciences, engineering, economics and education. The AUW will accommodate 2,500 students and provide half of the students with scholarships.

 This concept was born 5 years ago and the supporters have gathered from around the world. Support from businesses and politicians from the United States, England, Denmark and India, etc., has been received. The first enrollment is planned from March of next year. The location will be Chittagong in Bangladesh. For this plan a 50 hectare plot has been granted by the government. The Bangladesh government also pledged 100% support and the national parliament has consented to the independence of the university. Last year, Muhammad Yunus, the winner of the Nobel Prize, has also expressed his strong endorsement of this concept. I hope you can give your strong support.
AUW Japan Office - 03−6437−9950
Email address: Kathy