Lecture to focus on creation of utopia on island in Japan

One of Japan's wealthiest businessmen, Soichiro Fukutake, who is also a New Zealand resident, living in Auckland and Queenstown, will give a public lecture at the University of Otago next week.

Mr Fukutake, whose personal worth was recently estimated at $US1.5 billion, and who is said to be the 18th richest man in Japan, is also an ecologist interested in developing sustainable hybrid cars.

His talk, hosted by the university's National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, will focus on ''Naoshima: The Creation of a Utopia'', and will begin at the Burns 2 lecture theatre in the university Arts Building, Albany St, Dunedin, at 1pm on Friday.

For 25 years he has worked to revitalise the communities on Naoshima, a small island in Japan's Seto Inland Sea, which suffered environmental disaster in the 1960s.

Mr Fukutake will discuss what he terms ''Public Capitalism'', focused on public interests and the creation of an ideal community ''where all can live well'', event organisers said.

He will also discuss art, architecture and well being and links between the arts and peace. His wife, Reiko Fukutake, chairs the Global Future Charitable Trust, which has donated about $540,000 to the Otago centre, where it will be used to ''recruit and retain'' students to become future peace and justice workers.

One of Japan's most successful businessmen, Mr Fukutake moved to New Zealand in 2009.

He is chairman and director of Benesse Holdings, a leading company in the fields of education, language, nursing care and publishing in Japan.

- john.gibb@odt.co.nz