Eighteenth Business Advisory Board

Eighteenth Business Advisory Board Meeting Welcomes JAXA Vice President Dr. Koichi Wakata

Dr. Wakata discusses his career as an astronaut
Dr. Wakata discusses his career as an astronaut

The 18th U.S.-Japan Council Business Advisory Board (BAB) Meeting was held at the Tokyo American Club on September 11, featuring Dr. Koichi Wakata, Vice President and Astronaut of JAXA and Director General of the Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate, as the keynote speaker. Over 50 industry leaders from diverse fields gathered to listen to Dr. Wakata speak.

The event began with opening remarks by member of the USJC Board of Directors Scott Sato and member of the USJC Board of Councilors Ernest M. Higa. Representative Director of the USJC (Japan) Board of Directors Royanne Doi touched on recent USJC activities, such as the California-Japan Governors’ Symposium and the TOMODACHI Generation Alumni Summit, as well as the upcoming Annual Conference in Los Angeles and USJC Kansai Business Forum in Osaka. 

Mr. Higa giving welcome remarks

Two BAB members then introduced themselves, showcasing the diversity of USJC and BAB membership. Mr. Yasuhiko Saitoh, President of Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., explained how his company finds solutions to real-world problems, and has expanded to three locations in the U.S. in 45 years. Mr. Toshikazu Tagawa, CFO of the Japan SR Association, provided members with a pin for the Rugby World Cup and encouraged members to support Japan in its first game against Russia. 

Dr. Wakata, the only Japanese astronaut to have spent almost 350 days in space, began by briefly touching upon the history of the space race, following its evolution from a competitive state in the 20th century to a collaborative one in the present. Currently, the international community is collaborating on the “Gateway” project, a low-orbital hub for spaceships aiming to reach the moon and Mars.

Dr. Wakata taking questions from the audience

Dr. Wakata described the intensive training that he underwent in Wyoming and Florida to mimic spacelike conditions, as well as JAXA’s emphasis on teamwork. He also discussed the relevance of space exploration to life on Earth, such as research regarding human physiology. He also discussed how, despite previously being a public enterprise, space exploration has become increasingly private, as companies such as SpaceX devise new methods and technologies.

Two TOMODACHI alumni asked Dr. Wakata how going to space affected his perspective about worldly issues. He responded that the isolation of the ISS and the need to conserve resources made him reflect on the small size of Earth and, in turn, the finiteness of its resources. He concluded that it was crucial that we conserve what we have on Earth before it is damaged beyond repair.

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TOMODACHI alumnae converse with an attendee