Director, Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo
PhD 1976 DUniv 1991
I have the privilege and honour of being an alumnus of Flinders University in Adelaide. I took my first major step in life by going to Australia to study, and that first step transformed me.
There are three types of major life changes: to change where you live, to change what you do, and to “lose” significant people in your life. When I went to Australia, I was challenged to experience a new environment, and a new life with new people from a variety of cultures. The South Australian community created a humane lifestyle that embraced differences in people, cultures, and ideas as opportunities to learn. I learned at Flinders that I could not just survive, but thrive, and developed into a more complete person. There I discovered that wherever I might be, good people are good people; able people are able people; and excellence is excellence.
Those Australian discoveries led me to be a professor at Hokkaido University in Japan. They also resulted in the realisation of my childhood dream to become an astronaut. An astronaut is challenged to live and work in an unknown environment, in close quarters with people from different cultures. Australia gave me a solid foundation for success as an astronaut. That foundation has sustained me through both of my shuttle flights and beyond.
Over the years I have enjoyed vibrant, dynamic connections with Australia - as a student, as a scientist, as an astronaut, and now as director of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, or Miraikan in Tokyo, Japan.
I thank Flinders because it was there I learned to welcome the challenges of change, as they expanded my knowledge, enhanced my perspectives, and enticed me with completely new possibilities.