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An American Experience

By: Minoru “Ben” Makihara
Minoru “Ben” Makihara is Chair, Japan CULCON Panel and former CEO of Mitsubishi Corporation.

Minoru Makihara
Minoru “Ben” Makihara with classmates at Harvard

I arrived in the US via Panama Canal in the fall of 1949 to spend a year at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, and then on to Harvard College for another four years.

This was a period right after WWII when Japan was still at its lowest point, but I was deeply impressed by the kindness and generosity of the people in the US.I never had a bad experience because I was Japanese, which in retrospect I think was remarkable.

In retrospect, these five years remain in my memory as the most pleasant and memorable years in my whole life.  Not only while at school was I well looked after, but during holidays I was invariable invited to stay with friends and families, and the bonds established still continue after 64 years.

I always know that I can depend on their frank and open advice, whether about situations in the USA and Japan, or in fact about matters both personal and confidential which one could not expect from other sources.

They have not only helped me in making business decisions, but have been essential in supporting me in my involvement in the relationship between the two countries.  It has certainly broadened my horizon and enriched my life.

I feel strongly that having an experience of living abroad, particularly in your youth, enables one not only to have a more open and global view, but provides a unique opportunity to know about your own country.  And perhaps most important, it provides one to establish friendships to guide you through trials and tribulations.