Wasabi Stories vol.55: “Anyone has the time to clench their teeth and endure it”


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“Anyone has the time to clench their teeth and endure it”

Today’s story teller is an economist and a professor at Keio University, [W:Heizo Takenaka], who served as Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy in the cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi since 2001 to 2006.


The story was about when he taught at an American university.

In 1989, when he was an associate professor at Osaka University, he was invited to be a visiting professor at Harvard University to teach Theory of Japanese Economics.

To him, it was a hard decision to leave the University where he had been working for.

The campus is in a suburb of Boston.

When he arrived at the campus, his office was ready and he was scheduled to teach the very next day.

Standing in front of the office with nothing but empty book shelves, desk and chair, he was taken aback for a while.

There was no time to go home because he had to stay up all night to get ready for the class.

Takenaka described the moment.

“I got very sleepy because of jet lag. ‘I can’t stay up anymore.’ I lay down on a cold floor. Attache case for a pillow, I put some sheets of the Boston Globe, a local newspaper, for blanket. If I remember right, a big article of the Recruit scandal in Japan was on the paper.”


While he prepared for the class, he constantly took 30 minutes napping break thinking that newspapers were unexpectedly warm, and the next day, he rode out the first class.

One Sunday, he went to campus to prepare for the class for the next week.

He simply thought there would be nobody because it was a Sunday night; however, the parking lot was full!


Takenaka’s word.

“Sunday is the day everyone studies to prepare for the next week. The students were serious just as I, the teacher, was desperate. I found the fully full intellectual energy is the lifeblood of America. …I can’t forget the warmth of the Boston Globe papers, which were helper of the first and un-evadable class.”


The NIKKEI Jun/19/2009 by Heizo Takenaka (economist, professor at Keio University)



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