TEDxSendai 2012 Theme:
Natural Disasters

On March 11, 2011, the largest earthquake in Japan’s history, measuring a staggering 9.0 on the Richter scale, wiped out thousands of lives and erased entire communities. Almost 18 months later, in Sendai and the Tohoku region, people are rebuilding their lives, but the lessons from that time are still fresh and resonate across East Asia to countries in the Pacific Ring of Fire and across the world as people in communities rich and poor face similar cataclysms and extreme weather events.

TEDxSendai will focus on the theme of natural disasters. In a tightly choreographed 3 hours, TEDxSendai will bring together the most interesting thinkers and leaders from the worlds of business, art, politics and science to share a message about disaster recovery, resilience, and hope. This theme will be explored from multiple perspectives and contribute ideas worth spreading from Haiti to Japan.


Toshi Nakamura

Toshi Nakamura, Co-founder and CEO of Kopernik

Toshi Nakamura is co-founder and CEO of Kopernik, the technology marketplace for the developing world. Toshi has extensive experience in international development gained during his career with the United Nations. He has spent the past 10 years living in East Timor, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, the United States and Switzerland working with the United Nations and dealt with governance reform, peace building processes and post-disaster reconstruction including the tsunami in Aceh and the Yogyakarta earthquake. While in Sierra Leone, Toshi initiated ‘Open Government Initiative’ to increase the transparency and accountability of the government leadership.  Prior to joining the UN Toshihiro was a management consultant for McKinsey and Company in Tokyo. He holds an L.L.B from Kyoto University, Japan and Masters of Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. Toshi is Guest Associate Professor at Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University. Toshi was selected as World Economic Forum's Young Global Leader in 2012. 


Dr. Jun Iio

Jun Iio, Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Study/ Member, Reconstruction Promotion Committee, Government of Japan

Dr. Iio served as Chairman of the Study Group, Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, which was commissioned by the Government of Japan. He is now a member of the Reconstruction Promotion Committee, which is responsible for watching the reconstruction process for Tohoku. He is interested in resilience and new thinking in reconstruction.

Dr. Iio is also a well-known political scientist and political commentator, with a special expertise on contemporary Japanese politics governance, and serves on several governmental advisory groups. Since 2000, Dr. Iio has been a professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Study (GRIPS). From 2009 to 2011, he was GRIPS’ Vice President. Dr. Iio has been the recipient of the prestigious Yomiuri-Yoshino Sakuzo and Suntory Academic Awards. He graduated from the faculty of law of the University of Tokyo and holds Ph.D. and MA degrees in political science from the University of Tokyo.

Tomoko L. Kitagawa

Tomoko L. Kitagawa, Historian, Needham Research Institute

A rising star in academia, Tomoko Kitagawa (PhD) specializes in Japanese history and the history of mathematics in East Asia. She is the author of Japanese History Abroad: Lady Samurai and Kyoto (2012), and taught at Harvard University from 2009 to 2012. She was cited as one of the Favorite Professors at Harvard, Class of 2012 and one of the 10 most stylish professors by The Crimson. Tomoko Kitagawa has also worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, and she visited the IMF and the Word Bank in 2008 as a delegate member of Youth @ Annual Meeting.

Michie Koyama
(Photo Courtesy of
Waturu Nishida)

Michie Koyama, Classical Pianist

Ms. Michie Koyama is a classical Japanese pianist, who was born in Sendai. Since The Tohoku Earthquake in 2011, she has given free performances at local schools and community centers across the region. She completed musical high school at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, before moving on to college at the same university. Michie quickly moved into international competition, winning third place at the 7th Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in 1982, followed by a fourth place award in the 1985 Chopin International Piano Competition. She was the first Japanese pianist to receive awards at both of these major competitions. Ms. Koyama continued to win competition honors as she was awarded the 12th Chopin Association Award in 1986. She has performed with some of the world's most renowned conductors and orchestras. Her repertoire includes over 60 piano concertos and many solo works ranging from Baroque to contemporary. In 2010, she served as a jury member for the 16th Chopin International Piano Competition. Ms. Koyama has made 26 recordings and released CDs via Sony Music Japan International. In October 2012 she is scheduled to perform with the Moscow Radio Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Fedseyev on their Japan Tour.

The Piano that Survived the Tsunami

The piano on which Ms. Koyama will play has a story of its own. It is one of the survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Close to 19 months ago, when the tsunami ripped through the Sarukoya Music Store, a family-owned business operated for 90 years, most of the musical instruments were destroyed or damaged. His business in ruins, Mr. Inoue, the owner of the store, started a painstaking process of cleaning up the instruments with the help of volunteers. He restored the one piano to survive among the 30 once in his store. This one piano, though perhaps never again pitch-perfect, has become a symbol of resilience after destruction.

Rachel Kyte

Rachel Kyte, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development

As Vice President of Sustainable Development, Rachel leads the Bank’s global work in agriculture, environment, energy, infrastructure, urban, and social development, as well as global public goods issues in those areas. Before assuming this post in September 2011, she was the International Finance Corporation's (IFC) Vice President for Business Advisory Services, where she focused on delivering more measurable impact for the world’s poorest people and in the most challenging environments, including countries affected by conflict. As IFC’s Director for Environmental and Social Development, Rachel led efforts to develop new sustainability performance standards, which — through the Equator Principles — are now a global benchmark. Before joining the World Bank Group Rachel worked for IUCN and The World Conservation Union. She has worked within the environment, women's, human rights and health movements, and has held elected positions in Europe and formed and led NGOs. Rachel has served as an advisor, and on the boards of a number of companies, philanthropies, and governments.

Patrick Meier

Patrick Meier, Director of Social Innovation, Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI)

Dr. Patrick Meier is an internationally recognized thought leader on the application of new technologies for crisis early warning and humanitarian response. He presently serves as Director of Social Innovation at the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute (QCRI) where he spearheads cutting-edge research and development on next-generation humanitarian technology solutions. Before QCRI, Patrick co-founded and co-directed Harvard University's Program on Crisis Mapping and Early Warning and served as Director of Crisis Mapping at Ushahidi where he spearheaded major crisis mapping efforts in Haiti, Libya, Somalia, Syria and beyond. Patrick also co-founded the CrisisMappers Network, the Standby Task Force and Digital Humanitarians. He is a distinguished scholar, holding a PhD from The Fletcher School, a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from Stanford and an MA from Columbia University. Patrick authors the widely respected iRevolution.net blog and tweets at @patrickmeier.

Takeshi Niinami

Takeshi Niinami, President & CEO of Lawson

Mr. Takeshi Niinami is President & Chief Executive Officer of Lawson, Inc., the second largest convenience store chain operator in Japan with over 10,000 store outlets in Japan, China, Indonesia, and the US. A native of Yokohama, Takeshi has had a long career in the private sector and in the food and retail businesses. He began his career in 1981 at Mitsubishi Corporation, and in 1995, he founded Sodex Corporation (current LEOC Co., Ltd.), a medical food service joint venture between Mitsubishi and Sodexho in France, and served as its CEO. In 2000, at Mitsubishi he started the Lawson Project Management Dept. & Food Service Business Dept.

He was appointed President and CEO of Lawson in 2002 and has grown the company over the last nine years. In 2005 he was awarded the “Outstanding Manager Award” by Keidanren and the “Excellent Manager Award for Communication” by the Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs. In 2006, he got the “Best Dressed Award” from Japan Men’s Fashion Unity. He is Vice Chairman of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), Chairman of its Committee on Agricultural Reforms. Mr. Niinami is active in the local and international business community and is active on a number of boards and with the World Economic Forum. He is a member of the Asia Business Council and the Trilateral Commission.

Mr. Niinami was an exchange student at Stanford University and received his Bachelor of Economics degree from Keio University and his MBA degree from Harvard Business School.

Mike North

Mike North, Founder of Reallocate.org and Co-developer of Discovery’s Prototype This!

Dr. North holds bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in science/engineering, notably creating the world’s first on/off gecko-mimetic adhesive.  He’s published in a half-dozen major scientific journals, including Nature.  Mike masterminded builds on the primetime Discovery Channel show Prototype This!, where he led teams of crack inventors and scientists to create never before seen spectacles of engineering.  Currently Mike is bringing innovation to the toy industry as CTO at Nukotoys; has a design and rapid prototyping firm, North Design Labs; and is founder/chair of reallocate.org, a non-profit that reallocates expertise to address “base-of-the economic-pyramid” issues.

Ola Orekunrin

Ola Orekunrin, Healthcare entrepreneur

Dr Ola Orekunrin is the Managing Director of Flying Doctors Nigeria Ltd, West Africa's first air ambulance service and a trainee helicopter pilot. She graduated from the University Of York, one of the youngest doctors in the UK. She has worked in the NHS for nearly 10 years and currently is an emergency doctor. She has a specialist interest in trauma and pre-hospital care, buttressed by her private work at motor-racing circuits across the country. She has published her own book along with several articles in high-profile medical journals and has sat on various influential boards. In 2008, she was awarded the prestigious MEXT Japanese Government Scholarship and produced ground-breaking research in the field of regenerative medicine through her work with induced pluripotent stem cells. She also is a member of the American Academy of Aesthetic Surgeons and holds their board certification. Dr Ola is a TED fellow, a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, a member of the young African leaders network and a recipient of prestigious THISDAY award for her contributions to healthcare in Africa. The Flying Doctors air ambulance has been featured in Nigerian media and internationally on CNN, Reuters, and the BBC.

Yoshi Tabata

Yoshi Tabata, “Kataribe” – Author of the Picture Story Show: “A Tsunami”

Ms. Yoshi Tabata survived the Showa Sanriku Great Tsunami that took place on March 3rd, 1933, in Taro Town, Shimohei County, Iwate Prefecture (currently Taro, Miyako City).  She then created a picture story show entitled “A Tsunami” based on her tsunami experience.  She has been voluntarily performing the show to children in the community and to students during their school excursions for more than 30 years.  She also created a set of tsunami cards called KARUTA.  Her picture story show and KARUTA were adopted as part of the library activities at Taro Daiichi Elementary School.  For her valuable long term contribution to the safety of the community, she was awarded the distinction of “Kaigan Koro Sha (Contributor to Coastline) Award” by Zenkoku Kaigan Kyokai (the National Association of Coastlines) in 2006.  On March 11th, 2011, Taro Town was hit by huge tsunamis again, which washed away her house.  However, she resumed performing a tsunami picture story show on May 21, 2011.
(Excerpt from "Mrs. Tabata's Tsunami Picture Story Show" produced by Mrs. Yoshi Tabata and Supervised by Prof. Tomoko Yamazaki, Faculty of Education, Iwate University)

Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker, Director and Producer

(By Video)
Director/Producer Lucy Walker has twice been nominated for an Academy Award: for Waste Land (2010), a documentary feature which also won over 30 other awards including Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin and the IDA’s Best Documentary Award, and for The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011), which also won the nonfiction short jury prize at Sundance.

She has also directed three other feature documentaries: Blindsight (2006) which premiered at Toronto and won awards including an Audience Award at Berlin. Countdown to Zero (2010), about nuclear weapons, premiered at Sundance and played in Official Selection at Cannes and contributed to the debate building to the ratification of the New START Treaty. Devil's Playground (2002), about Amish teenagers, premiered at Sundance and was nominated for three Emmys (Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Editing) and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. She was also nominated for two Emmys for Outstanding Directing for Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues. Walker grew up in London, England, and graduated from Oxford University before winning a Fulbright scholarship to attend the Graduate Film Program at New York University.