6th Ludwig Boltzmann Forum Tokyo 2014

Ludwig Boltzmann Forum 2014

Ludwig Boltzmann Forum keynote speakers

  • Kenichi Iga Former President and Emeritus Professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Inventor of VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting lasers), widely used in photonics systems.
  • Gerhard Fasol CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK. Served as Associate Professor of Tokyo University, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and Manger of Hitachi Cambridge R&D Lab.
  • Kiyoshi Kurokawa Academic Fellow of GRIPS and former Chairman of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission by National Diet of Japan
  • Haruo Kawahara Representative Director and Chairman of the Board of JVC KENWOOD Corporation
  • Yoshinao Mishima President of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Materials scientist specialized on nano-materials and high-performance materials

Ludwig Boltzmann Forum Program

Welcome by Dr. Berhard Zimburg, Ambassador of Austria to Japan (represented by Peter Storer, Minister for Cultural Affairs)

Opening address: Minister for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Austria, Mr Peter Storer
Opening address: Minister for Cultural Affairs, Embassy of Austria, Mr Peter Storer

Gerhard Fasol: today’s agenda

Today we celebrate Ludwig Boltzmann’s 170th birthday: Ludwig Boltzmann was born on February 20, 1844. Even though his work is quite some time ago, every Japanese engineer or scientist uses Ludwig Boltzmann’s results, laws, and the mathematical and scientific tools he developed every day.

Ludwig Boltzmann’s work is extremely relevant every day in all our lives.

In my talk I will also explain that Boltzmann’s constant k is is directly linked to the unit we use to measure “temperature”. We use temperature everyday in private life, medicine and work, however people measured temperature before it was understood, what temperature really is. Boltzmann’s work and Ludwig Boltzmann’s results are needed to understand what we are actually measuring when we measure temperature. In most cases today we use the system of “SI Units” to measure physical quantities such as weight, time, temperature, pressure, current, voltage, power etc. There is global effort currently to reform the system of SI Units, and put their definition on a modern and more rational basis. Boltzmann’s constant k is at the core of the system of SI Units, and therefore there are efforts proceeding in several laboratories to measure Boltzmann’s constant as accurately as possible. I’ll explain some of this results in my talk.

Boltzmann was not only one of the most important and productive physicists, he was also a great leader, he influenced many, until today. Inspired by Ludwig Boltzmann as a leader, I have created the Ludwig Boltzmann Symposia for the following purpose and principles:

  • enable and encourage change
  • platform for creative leaders
  • free discussion, freedom of speech
  • no dogmas

Ryoji Noyori recently wrote and excellent article in The Yumiuri Shinbun (which is one of the daily newspapers with the highest circulation globally) entitled: “Can Japan’s science and technology compete globally?”
I have worked in Austria, Germany, France, UK, Japan, and all over the EU, and every country asks this question about their own country.
Ludwig Boltzmann competed successfully and globally, visited and taught in the US three times, studied English, he still has huge global impact today. We can learn from him how to compete globally.

Kenichi Iga: h\nu vs kT – Optoelectronics and Energy

Comments and discussions

(Former President and Emeritus Professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Inventor of VCSEL (vertical cavity surface emitting lasers), widely used in photonics systems)

My invention of vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSEL) dates back to March 22, 1977. Today VCSEL devices are used in many applications all over the world. I was awarded the 2013 Franklin Institute Award, the Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science, “for the conception and development of the vertical cavity surface emitting laser and its multiple applications in optoelectronics“. Benjamin Franklin’s work is linked to mine: Benjamin Franklin in 1752 discovered that thunder originates from electricity – he linked electronics (electricity) with photons (light). After 1960 the era of lasers began, we learnt how to combine and control electrons and photons, and the era of optoelectronics.

If you read Japanese, you may be interested to read an interview with Genichi Hatakoshi and myself, intitled “The treasure micro box of optoelectronics” which was recently published in the Japanese journal OplusE Magazine by Adcom-Media.

Who are electrons? Electrons are just like a cloud expressed by Schroedinger’s equation, which Schroedinger postulated in 1926. Electrons can also be seen as randomly moving particles, described by the particle version of Schroedinger’s equation (1931).

Where does light come from? Light is generated by the accelerated motion of charged particles.

Electrons also show interference patterns. For example, if we combine the 1s and 2p orbitals around a nucleus, we observe interference.

In a semiconductor, electrons are characterized by a band structure, filled valence bands and largely empty conduction bands. The population of hole states in the valence bands and of electrons in the conduction bands are determined by the Fermi-Dirac distribution. In typical III-V semiconductors, generation and absorption of light is by transitions between 4s anti-bonding orbitals (the bottom of the conduction band) and 4p bonding orbitals (the top of the valence band).

In Japan, we are good at inventing new types of vertical structures:

  • in 607, the Horyuji 5-Jyu-no Toh (5 story tower) was built in Nara, and today we have progressed to building the 634 meter high Tokyo Sky Tree Tower.
  • in 1893, Kubota Co. Ltd. developed the vertical molding of water pipes
  • in 1977 Shunichi Iwawaki invented vertical magnetic memory
  • in 1977 Tatsuo Izawa developed VAD (vapor-phase axial deposition) of silica fibers
  • in 1977 Kenichi Iga invented vertical cavity surface emitting lasers (VCSEL)

History of communications spans from 10,000 years BC with the invention of language, and 3000 BC with the invention of written characters and papyrus, to the invention of the internet in 1957, the realization of the laser in 1960, the realization of optical fiber communications in 1984, and now since 2008 we see Web 2.x and Cloud.

Optical telegraphy goes back to 200 BC, when optical beacons were used in China: digital signals using multi-color smoke. Around 600 AD we had optical beacons in China, Korea and Japan, and in 1200 BC also in Mongolia and India.
In the 18th and 19th century, optical semaphores were used in France.

In the 20th century, optical beam transmission using optical rods and optical fiber transmissions were developed, which combined with the development of lasers created today’s laser communications. Yasuharu Suematsu and his student showed the world’s first demonstration of optical fiber communications demonstration on May 26, 1963 at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, using a He-Ne laser, an electro-optic crystal for modulation of the laser light by the electrical signal from a microphone, and optical bundle fiber, and a photo-tube at the other end of the optical fiber bundle to revert the optical signals back into electrical signals and finally to drive a loud speaker. For his pioneering work, Yasuharu Suematsu was awarded the International Japan Prize in 2014.

I recorded my initial idea for the surface emitting laser on March 22, 1977 in my lab book.

Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VCSEL) have many advantages:

  1. ultra-low power consumption: small volume
  2. pure spectrum operation: short cavity
  3. continuous spectrum tuning: single resonance
  4. high speed modulation: wide response range
  5. easy coupling to optical fibers: circular mode
  6. monolithic fabrication like LSI
  7. wafer level probe testing
  8. 2-dimensional array
  9. vertical stack integration with micro-machine
  10. physically small

VCSEL have found applications in many fields, including: data communications, sensing, printing, interconnects, displays.

As an example, the Tsubame-2 supercomputer, which in November 2011 was 5th of top-500 supercomputers, and on June 2, 2011 was greenest computer of Green500, uses 3500 optical fiber interconnects with a length of 100km. In 2012: Too500/Green500/Graph500

IBM Sequoia uses 330,000 VCSELs.

Fuji Xerox introduced the first demonstration of 2 dimensional 4×8 VCSEL printer array for high speed and ultra-fine resolution laser printing: 14 pages/minute and 2400 dots/inch.

Some recent news:
The laser market is estimated to be US$ 11 billion by 2017.
VCSELs move to optical interconnects.
By 2019 the optical interconnect market is estimated to reach US$ 5.2 billion.

In summary:

VCSEL photonics started from minor reputation and generated big innovation. VCSELs feature:

  • low power consumption: good for green ICE
  • high speed modulation beyond 20 GBits/second
  • 2D array
  • good productivity due to monolithic process

Future: will generate ideas never thought before.

Comments and discussions

em. President of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Professor Kenichi Iga, inventor of VCSEL
em. President of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Professor Kenichi Iga, inventor of VCSEL
Gerhard Fasol (left), em. President of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Professor Kenichi Iga (right)
Gerhard Fasol (left), em. President of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Professor Kenichi Iga (right)

Gerhard Fasol: Boltzmann’s constant, “What is temperature?” and the new definition of the SI system of physical units

(CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK. Served as Associate Professor of Tokyo University, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and Manger of Hitachi Cambridge R&D Lab.)

Comments and discussions

(in preparing this talk, I am very grateful for several email discussions and telephone conversations, and for unpublished presentations and documents, to Dr Michael de Podesta MBE CPhys MInstP, Principal Research Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory NPL in Teddington, UK, who has greatly assisted me in understanding the current status of work on reforming the SI system of units, and also his very important work on high-precision measurements of Boltzmann’s constant. Dr Michael de Podesta’s measurements of Boltzmann’s constant are arguable among the most precise, of not the most precise measurements of Boltzmann’s constant today, and therefore a very important contribution to our system of physical units).

Temperature is one of the physics quantities we use most, and understanding all aspects of temperature is at the core of Ludwig Boltzmann’s work. People measured temperature long before anyone knew what temperature really is: temperature is a measurement of the average kinetic energy of the atoms of a substance. When we touch a body to “feel” its temperature, what we are really doing is to measure the “buzz”, the thermal vibrations of the atoms making up that body.

For an ideal gas, the kinetic energy per molecule is equal to 3/2 k.T, where k is Boltzmann’s constant. Therefore Boltzmann’s constant directly links energy and Temperature.

However, when we measure “Temperature” in real life, we are not really measuring the true thermodynamic temperature, what we are really measuring is T90, a temperature scale ITS-90 defined in 1990, which is anchored by the definition of temperature units in the System International, the SI system of defining a set of fundamental physical units. Our base units are of fundamental importance for example to transfer semiconductor production processes around the world. For example, when a semiconductor production process requires a temperature of 769.3 Kelvin or mass of 1.0000 Kilogram, then accurate definition and methods of measurement are necessary to achieve precisely the same temperature or mass in different laboratories or factories around the world.

The SI system consists of seven units, which at the moment are defined as follows:

  • second: The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.
  • metre: The meter is the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299 792 458 of a second.
  • kilogram: The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram.
  • Ampere: The ampere is that constant current which, if maintained in two straight parallel conductors of infinite length, of negligible circular cross-section, and placed 1 meter apart in vacuum, would produce between these conductors a force equal to 2 x 10-7 newton per meter of length.
  • Kelvin: The kelvin, unit of thermodynamic temperature, is the fraction 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature of the triple point of water.
  • mole:
    1. The mole is the amount of substance of a system which contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon 12
    2. When the mole is used, the elementary entities must be specified and may be atoms, molecules, ions, electrons, other particles, or specified groups of such particles.
  • candela: The candela is the luminous intensity, in a given direction, of a source that emits monochromatic radiation of frequency 540 x 1012 hertz and that has a radiant intensity in that direction of 1/683 watt per steradian.

The definitions of base units has long history, and are evolving over time. Today several of the definitions are particularly problematic, among the most problematic are temperature and mass.

SI base units are closely linked to fundamental constants:

  • second:
  • metre: linked to c = speed of light in vacuum
  • kilogram: linked to h = Planck constant.
  • Ampere: linked to e = elementary charge (charge of an electron)
  • Kelvin: linked to k = Boltzmann constnt
  • mole: linked to N = Avogadro constant
  • candela:

Each fundamental constant Q is a product of a number {Q} and a base unit [Q]:

Q = {Q} x [Q],

for example Boltzmann’s constant is:
k = 1.380650 x 10-23 JK-1.

Thus we have two ways to define the SI system of SI base units:

  1. we can fix the units [Q], and then measure the numerical values {Q} of fundamental constants in terms of these units (method valid today to define the SI system)
  2. we can fix the numbers {Q} of fundamental constants, and then define the units [Q] thus that the fundamental constants have the numerical values {Q} (future method of defining the SI system)

Over the next few years the SI system of units will be switched from the today’s method (1.) where units are fixed and numerical values of fundamental constants are “variable”, i.e. determined experimentally, to the new method (2.) where the numerical values of the set of fundamental constants is fixed, and the units are defined such, that their definition results in the fixed numerical values of the set of fundamental constants. This switch to a new definition of the SI system requires international agreements, and decisions by international organizations, and this process is expected to be completed by 2018.

Today’s method (1.) above is problematic: The SI unit of temperature, Kelvin is defined as the fraction 1/273.16 of the thermodynamic temperature at the triple point of water. The problem is that the triple point depends on many factors including pressure, and the precise composition of water, in terms of isotopes and impurities. In the current definition the water to be used is determined as “VSNOW” = Vienna Standard Mean Ocean Water. Of course this is highly problematic, and the new method (2.) will not depend on VSNOW any longer.

In the new system (2.) the Kelvin will be defined as:

Kelvin is defined such, that the numerical value of the Boltzmann constant k is equal to exactly 1.380650 x 10-23 JK-1.

In order to link the soon to be fixed numerical value of Boltzmann’s constant to currently valid definitions of the Kelvin, and in particular to determine the precision and errors, it is necessary to measure the value of Boltzmann’s current in terms of today’s units as accurately as possible, and also to understand and estimate all errors in the measurement. Several measurements of Boltzmann’s constants are being performed in laboratories around the world, particularly at several European and US laboratories. Arguably today’s best measurement has been performed by Dr Michael de Podesta MBE CPhys MInstP, Principal Research Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory NPL in Teddington, UK, who has kindly discussed his measurements and today’s status of the work on the system of SI units and its redefinition with me, and has greatly assisted in the preparation of this article. Dr Podesta’s measurements of Boltzmann’s constant have been published in:
Michael de Podesta et al. “A low-uncertainty measurement of the Boltzmann constant”, Metrologia 50 (2013) 354-376.

Dr Podesta’s measurements are extremely sophisticated, needed many years of work, and cooperations with several other laboratories. Dr. Podesta and collaborators constructed a highly precise resonant cavity filled with Argon gas. Dr. Podesta measured both the microwave resonance modes of the cavity to determine the precise radius and geometry, and determined the speed of sound in the Argon gas from acoustic resonance modes. Dr Podesta performed exceptionally accurate measurements of the speed of sound in this cavity, which can be said to be the most accurate thermometer globally today. The speed of sound can be directly related to 3/2 k.T, the mean molecular kinetic energy of the Argon molecules. In these measurements, Dr. Podesta very carefully considered many different types of influences on his measurements, such as surface gas layers, shape of microwave and acoustic sources and sensors etc. He achieved a relative standard uncertainty of 0.71. 10-6, which means that his measurements of Boltzmann’s constant are estimated to be accurate to within better than on millionth. Dr. Podesta’s measurements directly influences the precision with which we measure temperature in the new system of units.

Over the last 10 years there is intense effort in Europe and the USA to build rebuild the SI unit system. In particular NIST (USA), NPL (UK), several French institutions and Italian institutions, as well as the German PTB (Physikalische Technische Bundesanstalt) are undertaking this effort. To my knowledge there is only very small or no contribution from Japan to this effort, which was surprising for me.

Today’s accepted best value of Boltzmann’s constant is the “2010 Codata value”:

k = 1.380 6488 . 10-23 JK-1, and the standard uncertainty is:
su = 0.000 0013 . 10-23 JK-1

Comments and discussions

Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol

Gerhard Fasol: Ludwig Boltzmann – Energy, Entropy, Leadership

(CEO of Eurotechnology Japan KK. Served as Associate Professor of Tokyo University, Lecturer at Cambridge University, and Manger of Hitachi Cambridge R&D Lab.)

Comments and discussions

Ludwig Boltzmann’s greatest contribution to science is that he linked the macroscopic definition of Entropy which came from optimizing steam engines at the source of the first industrial revolution to the microscopic motion of atoms or molecules in gases. This monumental work is maybe Boltzmann’s most important creation but by far not the only one. He discovered many laws, and created many mathematical tools, for example Boltzmann’s Equations, which is today are used today as tools for numerical simulations of gas flow for the construction of jet engines and automobiles.

Ludwig Boltzmann was not only a monumental scientist, but also an exceptional leader and teacher and promoter of exceptional talent, and he promoted many women.

One of the women Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was Henriette von Aigentler, who was refused permission to unofficially audit lectures at Graz University. Ludwig Boltzmann advised and helped her to appeal this decision, in 1874, Henriette von Aigentler passed her exams as a high-school teacher, and on July 17, 1876, Ludwig Boltzmann married Henriette von Aigentler, my great-grand mother.

Another woman Ludwig Boltzmann promoted was his student Lise Meitner (Nov 1878 – Oct 27, 1968), who later was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, work for which Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize. Lise Meitner was also the second woman to earn a Doctorate degree in Physics from the University of Vienna. Element 109, Meitnerium, is named after Lise Meitner.

The first President of Osaka University (1931-1934), Nagaoka Hantaro (1865 – 1950) was Ludwig Boltzmann’s pupil around 1892 – 1893 at Muenchen University.

Ludwig Boltzmann was connected in intense discussions with all major scientists of his time, he travelled extensively including three trips to the USA in 1899, 1904 and 1905.

Ludwig Boltzmann published his first scientific publication at the age of 21 years in 1865. He was appointed Full Professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Graz in 1869 at the age of 25 years, later in 1887-1888 he was Rektor (President) of the University of Graz at the age of 43 years.

He spent periods of his professional work in Vienna, at Graz University (1869-1873 and 1876-1890), at Muenchen University (1890-1894). When working at Muenchen University, he discovered that he or his family would not receive any pension from his employment at Muenchen University, and therefore decided to return to Vienna University in 1894, where his pension was assured. During 1900-1902 he spent two years working in Leipzig, where he cooperated with the Nobel Prize winner Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald.

Ludwig Boltzmann did not shy away from forceful arguments to argue for his thoughts and conclusions, even if his conclusions were opposite to the views of established colleagues, or when he felt that philosophers intruded into the field of physics, i.e. used methods of philosophy to attempt solving questions which needed to be solved with physics measurements, e.g. to determine whether our space is curved or not. Later in his life he was therefore also appointed to a parallel Chair in Philosophy of Science, and Ludwig Boltzmann’s work in Philosophy of Science is also very fundamentally important.

I discovered the unpublished manuscripts of Boltzmann’s lectures on the Philosophy of Science, stimulated and encouraged by myself, and with painstaking work my mother transcribed these and other unpublished manuscripts, and prepared them for publication, to make these works accessible to the world, many years after Ludwig Boltzmann’s death.

Ludwig Boltzmann was a down to earth man. He rejected His Majesty, The Emperor of Austria’s offer of nobility, i.e. the privilege to be name Ludwig von Boltzmann instead of the commoner Ludwig Boltzmann. Ludwig Boltzmann said: “if our common name was good enough for my parents and ancestors, it will be good enough for my children and grand children…”

Summary: understanding Ludwig Boltzmann.

Boltzmann’s thoughts and ideas are a big part of our understanding of the world and the universe.

His mathematical tools are used every day by today’s engineers, bankers, IT people, physicists, chemists… and even may contribute to solve the world’s energy problems.

Ludwig Boltzmann stood up for his ideas and conclusions and did not give in to authority. He rejected authority for authority’s sake, and strongly pushed his convictions forward.

What can we learn from Ludwig Boltzmann?

  • empower young people, recognize and support talent early.
  • exceptional talent is not linear but exponential.
  • move around the world. Connect. Interact.
  • empower women.
  • don’t accept authority for authority’s sake.
  • science/physics/nature need to be treated with the methods of physics/science.
  • no dogmas.
  • support entrepreneurs, Ludwig Boltzmann did.

Comments and discussions

Gerhard Fasol
Gerhard Fasol

Kiyoshi Kurokawa: Quo vadis Japan? – Uncertain times.

(Academic Fellow of GRIPS and former Chairman of Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission by National Diet of Japan)

Comments and discussions

Professor Kurokawa set the stage by describing the uncertain times, risks and unpredictabilities in which we live – while at the same time internet connects us all, all while the world’s population increased from about 1 billion people in 1750 to about 9 billion people today.

Major global risks in terms of impact and likelihood are (General Annual Conference 2013 of the World Economic Forum):

  • severe income disparity
  • chronic fiscal imbalances
  • rising greenhouse gas emissions
  • cyber attacks
  • water supply crisis
  • management of population aging
  • corruption

Top trends for 2014, ranked by global significance (World Economic Forum, Outlook on global agenda 2014):

  • rising social tensions in Middle East and North Africa
  • widening income disparity
  • persistent structural unemployment
  • intensifying cyber threats
  • diminishing confidence in economic policies
  • lack of values in leadership
  • the expanding middle class in Asia

This changing world needs a change of paradigm:

  • resilience instead of strength
  • risk instead of safety

Many recent “Black Swan events” bring home that:

  • accident happens
  • machine breaks
  • to err is human

Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa chaired the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) by the National Diet of Japan, which was active from December 8, 2011 to July 5, 2012. While Parliamentary commissions to investigate accidents, problems and disasters are quite frequent in most Western democracies, this was the first time ever in the history of Constitutional Democratic Japan, that a Parliamentary investigation commission was constituted.

Examples of Parliamentary commissions in other western democracies are:

  • Three Mile Island, USA 1979
  • Space Shuttle Challenger, USA 1986
  • 9.11 Terrorist Attack, USA 2001 and many many many more in USA
  • Oslo’s shooting incident, Norway 2011
  • Mad Cow Disease, UK 1997-, and several Parliamentary commissions every year in UK

The records of the Parliamentary Commission for the Fukushima Disaster can be viewed here.

The key result of the Parliamentary Commission is, that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was caused by “regulatory capture”, a phenomenon for which there are many examples all over the world and which is not specific to Japan. Regulatory capture was studied by Goerge J Stigler, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1982 for “for his seminal studies of industrial structures, functioning of markets and causes and effects of public regulation”.

Since the full report of the Independent Parliamentary Commission is long and complex to read, few people are likely to read the full reports and watch the videos of all sessions.

Therefore short summary videos the key results of the Independent Parliamentary Commission were prepared both in Japanese and in English.

The simplest explanation of The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Report (English):

1. What is the NAIIC?

2. Was the nuclear accident preventable?

3. What happened inside the nuclear plant?

4. What should have been done after the accident?

5. Could the damage be contained?

6. What are the issues with nuclear energy?

わかりやすいプロジェクト 国会事故調編







We need leaders to be accountable, and we need to understand that “Groupthink” can lead to disasters.

We need the obligation to dissent instead of compliance.

The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) was like a hole body CT scan of the Governance of Japan.

Richard Feynman when charing the Space Shuttle Accident investigation wrote in 1986: “for a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

For his work chairing the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (NAIIC) Professor Kurokawa was selected as one of “100 Top Global Thinkers 2012” by Foreign Policy “for daring to tell a complacent country that groupthink can kill”.

Professor Kurokawa was awarded the AAAS Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award “for his courage in challenging some of the most ingrained conventions of Japanese governance and society.

New York Times, quotation of the day, September 4, 2013 Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa said: “Japan is clearly living in denial, water keeps building up inside the plant, and debris keeps piling up outside of it. This is all just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problem until the future”.

Comments and discussions

Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa
Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa

Haruo Kawahara: Revitalization of Japanese Industry – KENWOOD – JVCKENWOOD

(Representative Director and Chairman of the Board of JVC KENWOOD Corporation)

Comments and discussions

Background reading: Report on Japan’s electronics industry

JVC KENWOOD Corporation was incorporated on October 1, 2008, and has 20,033 employees as of October 1, 2013.

Corporate vision: Creating excitement and peace of mind for the people of the world.

Total sales for fiscal year ending March 2013 was YEN 306.6 Billion (approx. US$ 3 Billion).

JVC KENWOOD today has four business divisions:

  • Car Electronics (CE): 33% of total sales
    • car navigation systems
    • car audio systems
    • CD/DVD drive mechanisms
    • optical pick-ups
  • Professional Systems (PS): 30%
    • digital land mobile radio
    • amateur radio
    • security cameras
    • professional video cameras
    • emergency broadcasting equipment
  • Optical & Audio (O&A): 22%
    • action camera
    • home audio systems
    • all-in one tower design audio systems
    • camcorder with wifi
    • 4K projektor
    • headphones
  • Entertainment Software (SE): 13%
    • Victor Entertainment Group
    • Teichiku Entertainment

Issues of the electrical industry of Japan:

  • 1970s: overwhelmed with vertical integration and self-sufficiency
  • 1980s: appreciation of the yen (1985 Plaza Accord)
  • 1990s: collapse of the Bubble (1991), relocation of production to Asia, three excesses:
    • debt
    • facility
    • employment
  • 2000s: lost 20 years

Going forward, Japan has the option of growth under new business models, or continue to stagnate with matured industries.

While there is dramatic global market expansion in many business areas in the global electrical industry, e.g. for Lithium Ion Batteries, DVDs, Car navigation units, DRAM, Japan’s market shares are falling in most sectors. For example, Japanese market shares for LCD, DVD players, Lithium Ion batteries, or car navigation units have fallen from almost 100% global market share 5-10 years ago to 10%-20% today.

Restructuring mature industry can generate more economic benefit than innovating a new industry:

  • large established market, although low growth
  • reduced number of players in the market following consolidation

Revitalization of JVCKENWOOD:

  • the current main business as the core – not new business
  • speed, like “fresh food”
  • eliminate hidden waste and loss costs
  • eliminate vested rights

Kenwood in 2002 was in a disastrous condition:

  • net income (loss): YEN -27 Billion (= US$ -270 million) losses
  • debt: YEN 110 Billion (= US$ 1.1 billion)
  • accumulated losses: YEN 45 Billion (= US$ 450 million)
  • net worth: YEN -17 Billion (= US$ -170 million)

Restructuring by March 2003:

  1. Financial restructuring: Dept/equity swap. Moved from YEN 17 billion negative net worth to positive within 6 months
  2. Business restructuring: focus on core business. Terminated cellular phone business.
  3. Cost restructuring: 30% cost reduction. Closed 3 factories. Voluntary retirement.
  4. Management restructuring: management consolidation. Eliminate huge wastes and losses in subsidiaries.

Restructuring in FY2003 achieved a V-shape recovery. Net income margin was improved from -8% in FY3/2002 to 2%-4% in recent years.

In mature markets, growth is achieved through M&A, reducing the number of players in the market. As the top player in the market, profitable growth improved:

Main four players in the car electronics after-market before Kenwood-JVC merger:

  1. Pioneer
  2. Kenwood
  3. Sony
  4. JVC

after the JVCKENWOOD merger, and restructure to minimize losses from the TV business:


JVC and KENWOOD formed a capital and business alliance in July 2007, followed by management integration in October 2008, and a full merger in October 2011. The business portfolio was restructured, and in particular big losses in the TV business were reduced. Fixed costs were reduced by 40% by selling off assets, reduction of production and sales sites, and 25% voluntary retirement.

This structural reform was completed in the FY3/2001, and led to another V-shaped recovery, and to profitable growth under the new medium term business plan.

The JVC-KENWOOD merger led to big jumps in market share in many markets, and thus to very much improved profitability.

How can Japan become competitive again?

Why did Japan’s mass production type electronics fail? Answer: Japanese management failed to deal with globalization and digitalization.

Other factors that contributed to Japan’s failure are vertical integration, technology leakage from exporting production facilities, insufficient added value compared to the high Japanese labor costs, and lack of money for investment, because Japanese companies largely relied on bank loans instead of equity.

Japan’s heavy electrical industry on the other hand is competitive – why?

  1. Creative know-how in the heavy electrical industry is in human brains, therefore more difficult to leak to competitors under Japan’s employment circumstances.
  2. huge capital investment is needed, and almost fully depreciated in Japan. Therefore the depreciation costs exceeds HR costs.

How can Japan become competitive again?

Japan needs to accelerate growth strategies in those areas, where Japan has competitive advantage, and where Japanese industries can differentiate themselves. Examples are industrial areas which depend on a long-term improvements and advanced technologies, and techniques of craftsmen, and in next generation technologies.

JVCKENWOOD takes action to innovate:

  • JVCKENWOOD invested in a venture capital fund: the WiL Fund I, LP to reinforce alliances with potential ventures in Japan and overseas
  • JVCKENWOOD invested in ZMP Inc. to promote car telematics and car auto-control

Comments and discussions

Haruo Kawahara, Chairman of JVCKenwood
Haruo Kawahara, Chairman of JVCKenwood
Haruo Kawahara, Chairman of JVCKenwood
Haruo Kawahara, Chairman of JVCKenwood

Yoshinao Mishima: Educational reforms at Tokyo Institute of Technology

(President of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Materials scientist specialized on nano-materials and high-performance materials)

Comments and discussions

  • 1881: founded as The Tokyo Technical School
  • 1929: elevated to a degree-conferring university as Tokyo Kogyo Daigaku (Tokyo Institute of Technology)
  • 2004: reorganized as an independent administrative institution “National University Corporation Tokyo Institute of Technology”

Statistics as of May 1, 2013:

  • Undergraduate students: 4,790 (of which 180 are foreign students)
  • Graduate students: 3,611 Masters students + 1,512 Doctorate students = 5,123 (of which 943 (18.4%) are foreign students)
  • Research students: 90
  • Academic staff: 1,148
  • Administrative staff: 472

The mission of Tokyo Institute of Technology is to develop a new and vibrant society:

  • produce graduates with a broad understanding of science and technology with both the ability and the determination to take on leading roles in society
  • create and support innovative science and technology that will lead to sustainable social development

Detailed mission statements cover three areas:

  • education: produce masters graduates who will thrive globally, and doctorate graduates who will come world’s top researchers are leaders
  • contributions to society and international activities
  • research: produce globally recognized results. Reform the research and support systems, in particular multi-step support for young researchers.

Tokyo Institute of Technology aims to become a world class university with greater diversity in faculty and students by 2030.

Major educational reform plan (2013-…)

  1. Reborn masters and doctoral courses
  2. Reorganize departments, curriculum, courses
  3. Change from year-based study to credit based study
  4. Increase teaching in English, and numbers of foreign students
  5. Align with world top class universities for student transfers and credit transfers
  6. Enhance professional practice education for industry

A key challenge is that students primarily focus on earning credits to graduate, and lack a sense of mission to develop professional skills or to cooperate in our diverse global society. We need to change this type of behavior to create scientific leaders for the global arena.

We want to create a more flexible curriculum, that can be completed in a shorter time, so that students have more time for personal professional development and international exchange activities and communication skills.

The Board of Directors decided on three pillars for education reform on September 6, 2013:

  1. Build education system to become one of the world’s top universities
  2. Innovate learning
  3. Promote ambitious internationalization

We will move to a new and more flexible curriculum system, where undergraduate schools and graduate schools are blended.

We are introducing a number of initiatives including active learning, a faculty mentor system where every faculty member mentors 5-10 students, increased numbers of lectures in English, invited top global researchers, provide facilities for foreign researchers, and broaden academic cooperation agreements and mutual accreditation of credits and degrees.

Comments and discussions

Professor Yoshinao Mishima, President of Tokyo Institute of Technology
Professor Yoshinao Mishima, President of Tokyo Institute of Technology
Professor Yoshinao Mishima, President of Tokyo Institute of Technology
Professor Yoshinao Mishima, President of Tokyo Institute of Technology

Gerhard Fasol: Summary

7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium. Left to right: Kenichi Iga, Yoshinao Mishima, Peter Storer, Robert Geller, Hiroyuki Yoshikawa, Tetsuhiko Ikegami, Gerhard Fasol, Haruo Kawahara, Masaaki Tanaka, Ivo Koutsaroff
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium. Left to right: Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Gerhard Fasol, Hiroshi Kukimoto, Tetsuhiko Ikegami, Ivo Koutsaroff, Masanori Nagashima, Kenichi Iga, Haruo Kawahara
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium
7th Ludwig Boltzmann Symposium

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