In September 2012, in a restaurant overlooking Tokyo’s glittering skyline, Norihiko Ishiguro was invited to step up to the microphone at the front of the banquet room. Although he did not recognize many faces as he looked out into the crowd, he shared a common bond with the other reception guests.
Like Ishiguro, they had spent a year at Stanford through the Corporate Affiliates Visiting Fellows Program at the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center (Shorenstein APARC). Ishiguro, who first visited Stanford from 1985 to 1986, shared with the audience memories from his experience as a member of one of the earliest groups of Visiting Fellows.
“I was so impressed by the beautiful campus and clear, blue sky,” Ishiguro said in a recent interview with Shorenstein APARC. “I was very happy when I first arrived at Stanford.”
At the time, he was working as deputy director of electronics policy at Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). In 2001, MITI joined the newly formed Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and today Ishiguro serves as director-general of METI’s Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau.
Ishiguro fondly remembers attending Shorenstein APARC-sponsored workshops, seminars, and other events. He also audited Stanford classes on Japan’s political economy, and contributed to a U.S.-Japan technology project through his study of R&D in the telecommunications industries of both countries.
Since the late 1990s, Ishiguro has had the opportunity to visit campus three times, including getting together with Shorenstein APARC director emeritus Daniel Okimoto, stopping by during a tour of Silicon Valley companies, and, most recently, participating in the February 2011 symposium "Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for U.S.-Japan Cooperation."
For Ishiguro, establishing close relationships with people has been a key part of his Corporate Affiliates experience since he first visited Stanford nearly three decades ago. During the alumni reception in Tokyo, he made a point of getting to know Visiting Fellows from more recent groups, in addition to reconnecting with his old friends.
Ishiguro shared this bit of wisdom for current and future Visiting Fellows, “Participate in as many meetings, workshops, and symposiums as you can in order to make new friends and acquaintances.”
As Ishiguro discovered, the bonds Visiting Fellows form with one another and with the university last much longer than the duration of a year. It is these very bonds that have comprised the foundation of the Corporate Affiliates Program since it was established 30 years ago.