As some of you know, I am leaving Carnegie Council next week to take a senior program position at the Japan Society in New York.
It was a tough decision to leave Carnegie—especially after nearly 5 years of exciting programming and research projects with a fantastic team. Ultimately my decision was formed by a personal desire to help Japan revive.
Over the course of a decade of writing seriously about Asia, my analysis has zeroed in on two empirical sources: data and interviews (rather than theory or conjecture). In my writing on Japan, I have tried my best to convey accurately what Japanese people tell me about their country. As a result, perhaps ironically, the tone of my articles and speeches has become increasingly pessimistic. I recently had dinner with the chief economist of a major bank in Tokyo who asked me, "Devin, what will it take for you to stop being so gloomy about Japan?" My answer was: "I will stop being gloomy when Japanese people stop being gloomy about Japan." It's time to cheer up.
There is an expression in the nonprofit sector: It takes as much effort to find support for a small project as it does for a big one. We might as well aim for the sky. I hope that in a small way at my new post I can help provide a platform for innovation and ideas for positive change in Japan and the US-Japan relationship.
As always, I will look forward to your insights, guidance, and collaboration.
Photo by William Cho.