• Staff report


The Forum of Young Global Leaders (YGLs), created in 2004, is a unique community formed by the most exceptional leaders from every region of the world and every stakeholder in society. These honorees have committed their energy and knowledge to the most critical issues facing humankind. Already successful and accomplished in their own fields, they join and create a community of insight and action that is truly committed to improving the state of the world. The YGL community is the voice of an optimistic future and an energetic catalyst for change.

The Forum of Young Global Leaders has established a comprehensive selection process for identifying and selecting the most exceptional leaders 40 years of age or younger. Every year, thousands of candidates from around the world are proposed and assessed according to rigorous selection criteria. Only the very best candidates are selected and all efforts are extended to create a truly representative body. Reflecting the diversity of stakeholders, the Young Global Leaders include leaders from politics, business, civil society, academia and arts and culture from across seven geographic regions. Together, they form a unique community that can dramatically affect the lives of future generations and craft innovative responses to address global and regional challenges. It is a support system that questions, and constantly pushes its members to not only do more, but to be more, too.

This year’s class of YGLs come from 66 countries and equally represent the public and private sectors. Out of the total 214 YGLs honored, 109 are women. Bold, brave, action-oriented and entrepreneurial, these select individuals have proven their commitment to making the world a better place. From Japan, seven outstanding people have been chosen to be part of this remarkable community.

After earning a bachelor’s in Economics at Keio University in 1997, Aso entered the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan. In 1999, he went to the U.K. to study international relations at the University of Cambridge, returning in 2000 to join ASO Corporation as an auditor, becoming director in 2001.

In 2005, he was assigned as an independent director of Dwango Co., one of the leading telecommunications and media companies in Japan. Since 2011, he has served as the Group Chairman of ASO Corporation.

Ken Endo

(Researcher at the Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., Xiborg founder)

While many people have started preparing Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, engineer Ken Endo has been working to help Paralympic athletes sprint to the finish line. Starting when he was a doctoral student at MIT, and now at Sony Computer Science Laboratories in Japan, Ken works on robotic prosthetic legs. By reducing the number of motors and increasing the use of springs in the prosthetic legs, Ken hopes to develop prosthetic legs that function as well as real ones.

Keisuke Goda

(Professor of Physical Chemistry at University of Tokyo)

Goda’s research has focused on the development of innovative technologies such as novel methods, devices, and instruments for a diverse range of scientific, industrial, and biomedical applications. His goal in teaching is to educate and produce global leaders who will shape science, industry and medicine in the 21st century.

Goda served as Co-Chair of Los Angeles Chapter of IEEE Photonics Society from 2007 to 2011. He was also Founding Chair of the Southern California Japanese Scholars Forum. His work has been featured in the media, including Nature, BBC, Wired Magazine, TIME Magazine and others.

Kentaro Ichiki

(Creative Director of Hakuhodo Inc.)

Ichiki is comprehensively in charge of advertising production of TV commercials and media development, product development and planning business strategies based on management problems of clients. He has successively built brands in numerous fields, including cars, household appliances, games, cosmetics and dining both domesticly and overseas. Now he also serves as the editor-in-chief of “KOHKOKU” Magazine published by Hakuhodo.

On the occasion of being selected as a YGL, Ichiki said “I am pleased to serve as a bridge between art and science, marketing and design, and technology and emotion, to discover new ways of storytelling for the world.”

Tonni Agustiono Kurniawan

(JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability at United Nations University)

Tonni Kurniawan is an Associate Professor at the Xiamen University in China. Prior to joining the university, he was a scholar at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies of Sustainability in Tokyo. His research focuses on wastewater treatment and water purification, specifically the applications of water technologies to remove heavy metals from contaminated water. His work seeks to capture water directly from non-traditional sources such as municipal wastewater and restore it to near drinking water quality using low-cost absorbents to remove pollutants. Recently, Kurniawan has been identified by the Institute for Scientific Information-Thompson Reuters among the top 1 percent of researchers in the field of engineering.

Soichiro Minami

(Founder and Chief Executive Officer of BizReach)

Swimmy Minami is the Founder and CEO of BizReach, Inc. which has launched a series of industry changing online services, including BizReach, LUXA, RegionUP and others.

BizReach is now the premier online professional networking service for career-driven professionals and talent seeking employers in Japan.

LUXA is a discovery e-commerce site focused on empowering consumers to find unique products and experiences. It offers its members a selection of merchandise, including electronics, apparel, food, lifestyle items and the best in home decor and entertaining essentials.

Before founding BizReach, Swimmy was a founding member of the Rakuten Eagles, the first Japanese expansion baseball team in 50 years.

Eikei Suzuki

(Governor of Mie Prefecture)

Suzuki was employed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in 1998. Suzuki worked as a member of Shinzo Abe’s staff during Mr. Abe’s first term as Prime Minister (2006), leading work on education reform and environmental issues.

When he was 36 years old, he was elected as the governor of Mie, becoming the second youngest governor in Japanese history. Currently 39 years old, he is the youngest prefectural governor currently in office. He raised Mie’s medium-term economic growth rate to become the highest of the nation’s prefectures.

Suzuki is also a member of the Fertility Crisis Taskforce.

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