Hiroshi "Mickey" Mikitani, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten, Inc.
@hmikitani_e

If I could make a big change right now, I’d start right here in Tokyo. It’s a dream of mine to transform this city into the next tech hub.

Working with JANE (Japan Association of New Economy), we’re pursuing a revolution through innovation – a plan to create a hub for tech entrepreneurs in Asia.

It would require many changes. Among them:

  • Encourage entrepreneurs and engineers to come and work in Tokyo through the introduction of tax incentives and easing of visa restrictions.
  • Cultivate global entrepreneurial and engineering talent in Japan by promoting IT education and English language education.
  • Turn Japan into an “information magnet” that attracts all kind of data by opening up access to the Internet.
  • Advocate corporate governance reform to allow for greater recognition of performance-based compensation.
  • Promote the rise of new industries such as The Sharing Economy.

All of these changes would support creation of a venture ecosystem where diverse elements of society, from education to government to private enterprise, would combine and interact—unleashing great disruptive forces that would change the world.

Other countries have made successful targeted efforts to give life to new tech-friendly centers. Estonia, for example, has emerged as a model of entrepreneurship and digital government services. Signing legal documents and voting can be handled electronically. Setting up new companies and filing taxes has been digitized and streamlined. Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas says his government is striving to create a “zero bureaucracy government.” A nation can come together – business and government – to create this environment and foster e-business.

Rakuten has offices all over the world, but when I’m visiting with our team in San Mateo, I’ll sometimes focus on understanding the conditions that made Silicon Valley the hub of innovation it is today – and look for inspiration.

Tokyo is ready for a tech revolution. We can create the regulatory and technology environment that will appeal to the young and ambitious. We can model change for the region by transforming our major institutions and facilities – encouraging them to streamline and adopt cutting-edge tactics such as going cashless. To transform Tokyo would also mean a brighter future for Japan as a whole and our role as a contributor to the global community. A hub of innovation not only benefits its residents; it launches innovations that can change the world.

So many of the products and services we use today began as great ideas – ideas that were fostered and supported and built into thriving businesses. Customers are hungry for innovative products. We can do our part to serve them by providing even more places for innovators to come together and do their best work.

Editor’s note:

For more information on JANE and Hiroshi Mikitani’s efforts to transform Tokyo and Japan, see his “Japan Ahead” presentation, delivered to the Liberal Democratic Party’s “Committee for Realization of Good Economic Circulation” on May 14, 2015.