SPONSOR INTERVIEWSOur shared vision drives creative partnerships for global health innovation
Yahoo Japan Corporation
Executive Corporate Officer EVP, President of Media Group
Yahoo Japan Corporation
“Sustaining that interest presents another challenge. Precisely because of this, we thought it would be interesting to for us as Yahoo! Japan to highlight infectious diseases and global health for the Japanese public.”
How do you see your role as a news organization?
Every day, Yahoo! Japan receives over 4000 articles from various media sources. Over the past few years the number of both daily readers and news articles has rapidly increased, and Yahoo! News is now firmly established across the globe as a credible news source. As our role as a news source grows, we feel a responsibility to leverage our reach and diverse audience to make important social matters not traditionally considered “mainstream” more accessible for the general public.
Yahoo! Japan celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2016. A new pilot project we launched alongside our anniversary broadcasts the news while also elevating for the Japanese public certain topics that are typically not seen as “breaking news”. This includes many global health topics, which we feature in a number of ways, including special interest pieces. Our sponsorship of GHIT fits perfectly with this trajectory. Our goal is to inform our diverse audience of the challenges and opportunities that exist today—to raise awareness in Japan.
There was a dengue outbreak in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo during the summer of 2014, shortly before any sponsorship discussions with GHIT began. The outbreak catalyzed new interest in infectious diseases and how to contain and control them. Needless to say, our initial discussions with GHIT were very timely. Generally speaking, the interest-level in these issues in Japan was low, with very few online searches for information about dengue and other infectious diseases. We recognized that it takes a newsworthy event or development to catalyze interest. Sustaining that interest presents another challenge. Precisely because of this, we thought it would be interesting to for us as Yahoo! Japan to highlight infectious diseases and global health for the Japanese public.
What does your partnership with GHIT look like?
The first initiative Yahoo! Japan undertook in partnership with GHIT was to interview five Japanese researchers who have made transformational contributions to global health research. We released these interview articles to the public in both Japanese- and English-language versions on the Yahoo! Japan domain.
On October 6, 2015, Satoshi Omura, Professor Emeritus at Kitasato University, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. As a result, the number of site searches pertaining to Professor Omura skyrocketed. Our article about Professor Omura had been written several months before Nobel Prize recipients were announced; thus, we had no idea that things would turn out like this. At that time, we particularly wanted to avoid providing only a biographical sketch of Professor Omura. Instead, we wanted to create compelling story about his passion and personal motivation—an article that people would want to read regardless of whether or not they are global health enthusiasts. It was truly wonderful opportunity to collaborate with GHIT on this interview.
How was the global health researchers interview series received by the public?
The impact of this partnership has already borne fruit. The articles about Professor Omura and the four other researchers were widely read. We were delighted that members of the general public who were not familiar with global health became interested in these remarkable stories.
Our role in helping to draw attention to this research and these wonderful professors resonated deeply. Until our special features, these researchers had not often been highlighted in mainstream media. We see this series as a key catalyst and hope to build on this work in the future.
How is Yahoo! Japan’s partnership with GHIT perceived inside your company?
Yahoo! Japan has taken on the responsibility of being a “problem-solving engine”—not just a search engine. We hope to create opportunities to shed light on persistent social and global issues that are not typically “newsworthy”.
The team that undertook the interview project with GHIT was a highly motivated group of individuals. I did not request volunteers; rather, many people proactively sought a role in the project. This drive is emblematic of the aspirations of Yahoo! Japan staff members, who actively seek out ways to leverage the Internet and other technology to raise awareness of and solve social challenges.
Yes, we are a for-profit business that must sustain its bottom line, but we know we have the power to doing good even while doing well. Our engagement with the project such as GHIT interview project offers a perfect example of that.
“After all, people cannot address problems of which they are unaware.”
Tell us more about Yahoo! Japan’s engagement in social and global health issues.
In their role as representatives of a “problem-solving engine”, it is important that our employees take individual initiative to identify social challenges. Yahoo! Japan has “volunteer vacation” system that allows employees to earn paid leave by performing volunteer activities. For example, after the Kumamoto earthquake disaster occurred in 2016, employees could take leave to volunteer with recovery efforts. Other employees may join rebuilding activities, such as cleaning up the town, for example. We believe that such social activity both complements and inspires our employees’ mindsets and attitudes.
Health and the Internet in the future
My day-to-day work focuses on Internet-related business, and most of the information that I receive (and news I read) focuses on the Internet. However, GHIT provided me the opportunity to learn about global health. I learned many things, for instance, that some diseases that can be treated quickly in Japan are actually life-threatening to many people all over the world. I also learned that by developing medicines to treat such diseases, many lives could be saved.
I was also inspired by the fact that many Japanese people have made significant contributions of both knowledge and on-the-ground services and processes in global health.
In the future, I believe the health field and the Internet business will become even more closely linked. Historically, collaborations in this area have tended to be fragmented pilots; however, tools like wearable biosensors are becoming ubiquitous. The Internet is now a major platform for obtaining health-related information. We, Yahoo! Japan must not only get on board with, but also get ahead of the curve.
Everything begins with knowing
By partnering with GHIT, Yahoo! Japan can create opportunities for many people to learn about GHIT’s efforts and global health. Awareness-raising is critical. After all, people cannot address problems of which they are unaware. We also appreciate that awareness-raising goes hand-in-hand with creating opportunities for action. For example, people who read our articles might want to learn more, or they might decide to donate to an organization. I am pleased that Yahoo! Japan could be a catalyst.
Tangible global health solutions, like the tools GHIT is developing, require a great deal of time will be required. Nevertheless, during this process, we can continue to keep people updated about progress and why such work continues to be important.
The affiliations and positions listed in this interview are at the time of publication of the interview in 2017.
Executive Corporate Officer EVP
President of Media Group
Yahoo Japan Corporation
Born in 1982, from Sapporo, Hokkaido. Immediately after graduating from The University of Tokyo in 2004, Gen Miyazawa founded and became CEO of Cirius Technologies, Inc. where he engaged himself in mobile SEO business and advertising distribution linked with location information for mobile devices. After the company was acquired by Yahoo! JAPAN in August 2010, he was appointed project leader of YDN (interest-match project). He was appointed Vice President of Business Promotion Division, Marketing Solutions Company in July 2012 and became responsible for Search business in Media Services Company in April 2013. In April 2014 he was appointed Corporate Officer (youngest ever in Yahoo! JAPAN), President of Search Services Company. In April 2015, he was appointed President of Media Company where he supervised services such as the Top Page and News, in addition to Search service. In April 2016 he was appointed the present office and supervises both Media Company and Marketing Solutions Company.