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JB: How does this effect Japan's business relations with Western countries - for instance the recent Japan, Inc. tour you led to the U.S. and London and Germany?

AIZU: They absorbed, or learned, about what is going on out there, and digested it in such a manner that they can understand. I'm a little bit concerned that whether they made the right choices of places to visit, and talked to the right people —with the exception of the visit to this office.

In Washington we visited the White House, we went to the FCC and I took them to the Internet Society — then we came to New York. The day started at 8:30 a.m. at the hotel with the Time-Warner guys, and we went to NYNEX, and then we went to IBM headquarters, where 30 people were put in a conference room to listen to a bunch of brief presentations.

This is very different than talking and meeting the individuals that you brought in such as Steve Levy, author of Hackers, Kip Parent, of Pantheon Interactive, who had implemented Silicon Surf for SGI, and Jaron Lanier, a polymath, and musician, as well as a leading pioneer of virtual reality. These guys are really driving the revolution.

The large corporations like IBM, NYNEX, Time-Warner, etc., are the followers, I would say. The individuals in these big corporations are fine, on a personal level. In fact in some cases you will find great people, interesting, and fun people. But when it comes to meetings, things become very boring. It's rare to get to talk to people on an individual basis and in a very open atmosphere. And this is where the real intellectual encounter happens.

JB: But the encounter seems to be one-way. The people I brought to the party didn't have a clue as to what Japanese visitors wanted, or were thinking about.

AIZU: Right. That's the problem. Sometimes, they can, despite their bad English, express their interest and focus in a private conversation. Sometimes they can't. Part of the reason I asked you to organize that kind of meeting was that I wanted to show the other side of the world, where the large corporations don't matter, where individual people are the real source of creativity and are changing the times and history. They certainly appreciated that after we left here. They loved that different kind of atmosphere. Although I'm not too sure if they can take any productive business lessons from it.


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