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KEIO Opencourseware >> Essay from Alumni >>#3  

Alumni's Essay

Mr. Kakutaro Kitashiro, Chairman of the Board, IBM Japan, Ltd.; Chairman, KEIZAI DOYUKAI (Japan Association of Corporate Executives)

I enrolled in the Department of Administration Engineering at Keio University in April 1963.  I made the decision to study computing back when I was a student at Keio Senior High School in Hiyoshi after I read a magazine article announcing the dawn of the computer age.  I became fascinated by the information society of the future while I was still in high school and this strengthened my resolve to study computing.  That was my motive for joining the Department of Administration Engineering.

Looking back, I think that I was lucky that I chose the field of computing.  In my sophomore year, I began taking more specialized courses, one of which was Professor Shoji Ura's computer programming class.  His lectures were extremely interesting and I remember being completely fascinated by them.  The computers we used often produced unexpected results so it was necessary to use deductive reasoning to figure out why a computer did not work according to the instructions.  If the computer produced the wrong result, I had to pinpoint the source of the error and this process really piqued my curiosity, almost as if I were reading a mystery novel.  The development process was complex and involved printing out the intermediate results from the finished program and analyzing the results calculated by the computer to identify errors.  I was so absorbed in program development that I lost all concept of time.

In my senior year, I began working on the development of queuing simulation software for my graduate thesis under the supervision of Professor Ura.  The program used average numbers of vehicles on an expressway and average waiting times at toll booths to calculate the optimum number of toll booths and the length of the longest possible queue.  In the beginning, I didn't even know how to calculate queues.  However, thanks to the guidance of my instructor, Norihisa Doi, I gradually came to understand more about programming theory and structure.

Once I had completed all of the necessary functions and my graduate thesis had been reviewed, Professor Ura said to me, "You probably won't have the opportunity to work on a another thesis like this after you graduate.  You still have time before graduation so you should try adding some extra functions".  From that day until the end of the semester, I spent most of my time in the Faculty of Engineering's Computer Center and I worked right up until 11:00 p.m. on the 31st of March.  I clearly remember feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when I walked out of the Center and I will never forget how beautiful the stars looked in the night sky.  I thought to myself, "My student days are over. I have done what I needed to do."  I believe that the most important asset I gained from my time at Keio was that sense of accomplishment and the confidence that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve anything.

(25 December 2006)



Kakutaro Kitashiro

Kakutaro Kitashiro is chairman of the board of IBM Japan. He was appointed to the position in December 1999 after serving as president of IBM Japan since 1993. He also served as president of IBM Asia Pacific from November 1999 to March 2003. 

Mr. Kitashiro joined IBM Japan as a systems engineer trainee in 1967 after graduating from Keio University with a BS degree in engineering.  He also holds an MS degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1972.

Mr. Kitashiro held several management positions before becoming an administrative assistant to IBM CEO John R. Opel in July 1983.  In January of the following year, he became administrative assistant to Takeo Shiina, president of IBM Japan.

He held a number of executive positions before being named IBM Japan vice president of marketing and services in March 1991, prior to becoming president of IBM Japan in 1993.

Mr. Kitashiro was inaugurated as chairman of KEIZAI DOYUKAI (Japan Association of Corporate Executives) in April 2003. He has been promoting a concept of Innovation.

He is also a member of National Public Service Ethics Board of the National Personnel Authority, Conference on the Construction of Trunk Motor Road for National Development of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.


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