When they returned to Japan, they started Cosmo Public Relation with only one telephone and a single pencil. All the Japanese executives whom my mother met at NBC became her first clients. Kumi now runs Cosmo, which has become one of the top communications consulting firms in Japan.
Taeko and her husband were able to buy a nice house in the Harajuku area with some support from their family. Most young people were not as lucky as them, so she founded Nippon Home, a home builder of affordable, western-style quality homes which were exploding in popularity through the 50s, 60s and 70s. By 1972, she was building 600 homes a year and Newsweek called her “Japan’s only female business tycoon.”
After this remarkable success, she founded the Japan Housing Foundation, which not only educates builders for better quality, but also connects government, the private section, and individuals in a collaborative way. She has won many awards, been featured in many articles and a weekly television program, and written her own books, including an auto-biography. She was also the first Chairwoman of the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission, the board that oversees the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. She obtained a doctorate in engineering from Tokyo University and has been engaged in an education project to keep traditional Japanese wood construction methods alive.
Per her daughter Lina:
It is often mentioned that she is unusually unique since women in her days rarely left the home. This may be true in general but not in our family. Taeko’s maternal great, great uncle, Omori Hyozo studied Economics at Stanford and then transferred to Springfield College where he pursued curriculum for strengthening the physique of the Japanese people. He went on to work for the YMCA in 1901 and eventually returned to Japan, bringing back basketball and volleyball. He co-founded the Foundation of Japan Amateur Sports Association. Also, he was the first director of the Japan National Olympic Team when they first entered the Olympics in 1912, which were in Stockholm that year. He was married to New Englander, Annie B. Shepley, 20 years his senior. She was an artist and her ancestors came to the US on the Mayflower. Her niece was married to E.B. White. After Hyozo died at the age of 37, she came and lived in Tokyo in the lake house in Kawaguchi. Until her last days, she devoted herself to social welfare.
Regarding the Global Life Learning Center:
Her passion for the “cultivation of talented individuals for the betterment of society” is the underpinning of her wide-ranging efforts and dedication to creating the programs offered by the Global Life Learning Center. Since its start in 1983, the center has continued to offer encouragement and support to all who wish to learn.
Dr. Matsuda reported:
I strongly believe that as long as people continue to learn and keep the capacity to be sensitive and engaged by life, age will never be a determinant in how fulfilling life can be.
The once established life-path of graduation from university followed by work at a single company until retirement is no longer applicable for many people today. Shouldn’t we regularly continue to cultivate ourselves in multiple ways, to find a new role to stay involved within society regardless of whether we are working?
To do this, we must take an active approach to enrich our learning with new ideas and in various disciplines. It is with the idea of supporting such learning that I founded the Global Life Learning Center (GLLC). Over thirty years ago, I coined the phrase “Life Learning,” and it has since been adopted into common usage in Japan, demonstrating that the concept of “Life Learning” has become widely recognized while also developing in breadth and depth of meaning.
It is my hope that in times of great change, “Life Learning” will lead to the development of programs and activities that are useful to society while at the same time offer people a way to establish themselves as thoughtful and responsible individuals. I strongly believe this will help cultivate the talented individuals that will support the Japan in the future.
Our foundation is based on this philosophy of developing social programs and cultivating individual talent, and we will continue to lead the way in supporting “Life Learning,” which serves as the cornerstone for overseeing diverse projects to support companies, organizations and individuals.