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Innovation Salon | How Japan and the US are using technology to better address natural disasters

March 8, 2021 @ 4:00 pm

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The 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake

March 11 this year marks the 10th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Taking this opportunity, we would like to extend our deepest sympathy to those who were impacted and those who are still recovering from the loss and damages.


Sitting on opposite ends of the Pacific ring of fire, both Japan and San Francisco experience frequent natural disasters.  Both have made great strides to create more resilient infrastructure, better predictive capacity and processes to speed recovery. In the decade since the Japanese disaster, companies in the US and Japan have developed increasingly sophisticated technology tools that hold enormous potential to better prepare for disasters and recover more quickly from them.


We will be hearing from two expert companies how they are working on technological advancement in the natural disaster prevention space: Kozo Keikaku Engineering (KKE), a leading structural design company in Japan with deep experience in disaster preparedness, or “Bosai” in Japanese, has pioneered a holistic approach to reduce disaster impact since its founding in 1959. One Concern, a Silicon Valley based company founded in 2015 by three Stanford graduate students offering a new approach that leverages next-gen AI and machine learning to predict impacts from natural disaster and climate change.  They have been working in Japan for several years, including with the city of Kumamoto.


Our speakers are Shunya Okuno, Manager of Weather Disaster Prevention Section of KKE, an expert on earthquake and tsunami simulation/forecast, and Ahmad Wani, Co-Founder and CEO of One Concern, responsible for the company’s strategic direction in providing “Resilience as a Service” for a better decision making. Discussions will be moderated by Albert Chu, CEO of SOMPO Digital Lab and a 40-year veteran at startups and global companies in Silicon Valley.




Date & Time

U.S. : March 8, 2021 @ 4:00 p.m. (U.S. Pacific Time)

Japan : March 9, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m. (Japan Time)


*via Zoom

Agenda (U.S., Pacific Time)

4:00 – 4:05 – Opening Remark, Takahide Akiyama | President, Takahide Akiyama, Japan Society of Northern California
4:05 – 4:10 – Special message from Mami Mizutori | Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)
Setting the Scene by Moderator, Albert B. Chu | Group Co-Chief Digital Officer, SOMPO Holdings & CEO, SOMPO Digital Lab, Inc.
4:10-4:20 – Shunya Okuno | Section Manager, Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc.
4:20–4:30 – Ahmad Wani | Co-founder and CEO, One Concern
4:30-4:45 – Panel Discussion
4:45-4:55 – Q&A
4:55-5:00 – Closing, Takahide Akiyama | President, Takahide Akiyama, Japan Society of Northern California


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Special Message from:

Mami MizutoriMami Mizutori, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR)

Mami Mizutori is the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The role of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is to support countries and stakeholders in the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030). The Special Representative ensures the strategic and operational coherence between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development agendas as well as the linkage with the UN Secretary General’s prevention agenda and with humanitarian action.

Ms. Mizutori served for twenty-seven years in various capacities in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to joining the UN, Ms. Mizutori was Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures, University of East Anglia, UK, since 2011. Ms. Mizutori graduated in law from Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo and obtained a Diploma in International Studies from the Diplomatic School of Spain. A Japanese national, Ms. Mizutori speaks Japanese, English and Spanish.


Our Amazing Speakers

Shunya OkunoShunya Okuno, Section Manager | Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc.

Shunya is an engineering consultant in the field of disaster prevention. Since joining Kozo Keikaku Engineering Inc. (KKE) in 2012, Shunya has been evaluating natural disasters, including tsunamis and earthquakes, using numerical simulation. He also studied data-driven flood forecasting based on nonlinear science as a collaborative researcher at the University of Tokyo from 2017 to 2019. As a section manager of the Weather Disaster Prevention Section of KKE, he launched a real-time flood forecasting service “RiverCast” using his research, which was published in a Nature Research journal. He is also a member of the Japan Association for Earthquake Engineering (JAEE)’s Tsunami Load Committee.  Shunya holds an ME degree from the University of Tokyo.


Ahmad WaniAhmad Wani | Co-founder and CEO, One Concern

Ahmad serves as the CEO and Co-Founder of One Concern, a Menlo Park-based Resilience as a Service solution provider that brings disaster science together with machine learning, for better decision-making.  A native of Kashmir, South Asia, Ahmad survived the devastation of major disasters that impacted his family and community, providing the inspiration that fuels his commitment to building global resilience. Recognizing the inadequacy of traditional disaster solutions, Ahmad and his team at One Concern are using artificial intelligence to revolutionize the world’s understanding of natural phenomena sciences and quantify resilience from catastrophic perils, empowering leaders to measure, mitigate, and monetize risk so disasters aren’t so disastrous.  Ahmad holds a Graduate Degree in Structural Engineering, with a focus on seismic engineering, from Stanford University.


Albert ChuModerator: Albert B. Chu | Group Co-Chief Digital Officer, SOMPO Holdings & CEO, SOMPO Digital Lab, Inc.

In his 40-year Silicon Valley career, Mr. Chu has brought dozens of products and services to market, at startup and global companies including Apple, AT&T, PalmSource, ACCESS and SOMPO Digital Lab. Albert is a managing partner at Poppyseed, a Silicon Valley-based startup investment and advisory firm; an advisor at SkyDeck, the accelerator program at the University of California, Berkeley; a Silicon Valley advisor to Mitsubishi Research Institute’s Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future; and most recently, a visiting lecturer at the University of Tsukuba (Japan).  Albert has a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and completed the Advanced Executive Program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


This event was made possible thanks to our 2020 Japan-US Innovation Awards Symposium sponsors

IA Sponsor Group


March 8, 2021
4:00 pm
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