Japan is a country that sets the bar with the highest standards in manufacturing and service excellence. Sony’s Walkman may no longer be ubiquitous, but you have likely enjoyed it and other Japanese products over the years; while a visit to Japan to experience its incredibly thoughtful and detailed service culture first-hand should be on everyone’s bucket list. But Japan has never been known as a market that takes big risks or swims against the tide of commonly accepted ways of doing things.

At Rakuten, we are incredibly proud of our Japanese heritage, but that doesn’t mean we need to stick to the old ways of doing things. We recognize that that taking risks and doing things differently are often essential for innovation. We think it is important to converse with people from other cultures to better understand the world and see potential opportunities that may be right in front of us. This is partly why we changed our corporate language from Japanese to English in 2012 and we haven’t looked back since.

Rakuten was founded on the principle of empowerment. In 1997, our CEO Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani saw the potential of the internet to change the world and, along with a handful of ambitious young colleagues, he launched Rakuten. And it is these ingredients—empowerment and internet—that remain at the heart of Rakuten and are the essence of the Rakuten Future Forum.

So, we set out to build a forum that challenges people to think about what the internet can do to empower and address some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as education, medicine, and investment. We aim to bring in great minds to discuss these issues and hope to raise awareness of the issues in the doing.

Rakuten Future Forum is a dialogue about our future. Not Rakuten’s future, but the future we all share. We believe these conversations make a difference and we hope that your voice is a part of it.