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Welcome to our series of interviews with the people behind the OpenChain Project. While open source is mostly about software, and governance is mostly about licenses, it is also the story of thousands of individuals collaborating. We hope these interviews will inform and inspire our readers, and encourage more people to participate in open source and OpenChain.

Our second interview is with Yoshiko Ouchi from Fujitsu

You have been involved with technology for a while and you now have a leadership position in open source. Can you tell us a little about how you joined your company, why you are involved in technology development, and how you first discovered open source?

When I visited several companies and talked to university alumnae for finding a job after graduation, I had an impression that the company I’m currently working is the best place for women to work. That is the reason I decided to work for the company.


I’m working at intellectual property department in the company and not engaged in developing technologies. At my team in the department, we support intellectual property related issues, such as copyright and patent, for people working in development division.
For example, in order to assist developers utilizing Open Source Software (OSS), we have created concise explanations for common OSS licenses, a table of licenses that illustrates characteristics of individual licenses, and documents related to specific licenses or OSS that require cautious treatments. Those information is published on internal web site and available for everyone in the company. We think those resources will help developers to select OSS properly and quickly.
We also answer questions of OSS licensing interpretations used on individual projects and make advices on how to utilize OSS properly with complying licenses related.

 例えば、開発部門の人々がOpen Source Software (OSS)を利用するのを支援するために、著名なライセンスの概要や、各ライセンスの特徴が分かる一覧表、要注意なライセンスなど、OSSに関するドキュメントを作成しています。これらの情報は、富士通グループ内のウェブサイトで公開され、従業員は誰でも参照できます。これらの資料により、開発部門の人々はOSSの採用判断を迅速に行えると考えています。

I first got involved with OSS licenses when I was consulted by several development divisions that were considering to use OSS in their products or System Integration businesses. The developer consulted the Intellectual Property Department about the licensing terms of OSS.


Your involvement in open source is very interesting. Software is behind most of our technology and open source is behind most of our software. However, in relative terms there are few coordinators or managers with significant experience of this approach to technology. How did you become a decision-maker in your company’s use of open source?

Neither my team nor I was not a “decision-maker” for using open source in Fujitsu. Our engineering department people anticipated the growth and spread of OSS such as Linux, and judged that it was important to be involved in the development. That movement was “decision making” for Fujitsu to use OSS in our business.

私を含む私のチームは、富士通においてopen sourceを利用することに関する” decision-maker “ではありません。当社の技術部門の人々がLinux等のOSSの広がりと成長を見越して、その開発に関わっていくことが重要であるとの判断を行いました。そのような活動が、富士通において、OSSをビジネスで利用していく”decision making”になりました。

OpenChain is all about open source compliance in the supply chain. Our industry standard builds trust and our reference material helps companies build processes to meet the standard. Approaching this discussion for the first time can be a little intimidating. Most people are modest about their understanding of licenses or choosing the “best” approach to solve a business challenge. It may be a strong word to use, but often a certain sense of fear makes people hesitate. How did you learn to approach this issue with a positive and open mind?

The mission of the division where I belong is providing information and supporting on compliance related issues, which are not limited to OSS. Realizing we help development departments in the company motivates me.
There were several issues related to OSS when we first started working with OSS, including interpretations of licenses. In order to examine the license interpretation issue, we set up a working group across the company. The working group attracted people from various departments facing the same issue, stating “I want to participate, too.” Through the activity in the working group, we produced a guide for using OSS in business, educational materials, and FAQs on OSS licensing, which are all available at an internal website.


One thing the OpenChain Project is concerned with is diversity. Our project is developing a long-term industry standard and our strategic perspective is measured in many years or even decades. To access the potential in our community we need to make sure gender or personal choices never make people feel unwelcome or excluded. In some markets like China and Korea around half of the people we work with are female. In other markets, such as Japan and the United States, the percentage of women is far less. Have you faced challenges because of gender and how did you overcome them?

In my generation in Japan, women usually play main roles for raising children and keeping housework. Women who work were required to play both those roles in home and roles in workplaces without any help or covering, as when I was young.
The situation has changed recently, with public tendency that men also should take part in childcare and housework, and more and more men get involved in childcare and housework. In the next few years, I think there will be situations where men and women cooperate equally with housework, childcare and work.

One of good experiences I had through raising children was having a chance to cooperate with people of diverse backgrounds in the nursery school or the elementary school.
For example, when I became a president of parents’ association in the nursery school that my child went, I planned and held events such as summer festivals based on parents’ opinions I gathered, and I submitted improvement requests that I collected to the nursery school.
Acting as the president, I cooperated with people of diverse backgrounds. Most of the guardians of children at the nursery school were parents of working father and mother. In addition, there were people such as families without a father, with an unemployed husband, with many children, or families whose guardians are grandparents rather than parents. Working with them was like having a different small community activity and I had a lot of good experiences.
I also cooperated with people of diverse backgrounds in PTA activities at elementary schools, such as full-time housewives and foreign parents who cannot speak Japanese. That was also an experience in different small community.

Also, some people work for companies in the same industry whom I would not have a chance to know each other, and even now we meet and talk about hard times and encourage each other.
I think there are few men who had this kind of experience.



The next question is directly related to the last one. Because the OpenChain Project is concerned with diversity we must acknowledge that every part of our project needs to continually improve. Our social structures, our meeting formats, our processes to create or improve material. Everything needs to be considered to find any challenge to making people welcome and empowered. Can you assist us in this process with some suggestions for improvement?

Regarding OpenChain activities, as I am not good at English, it would be very helpful if someone makes simultaneous translation at English-spoken meetings.
Another helpful way for me would be sharing presentation materials in advance, because there are many tools for translation and I will be prepared to understand by translating with those tools. 


All around the developing world age is a topic. Our populations are getting older and the social distance between young and old people seems to be growing. People in their early twenties seem to have very little in common with people in their forties or fifties. Of course this is understandable and of course it has always existed between generations. However, in the context of open source, our population is aging too, with the average age of participants around 30~55. Maybe we have more older people than young people. Do you have any suggestions for how we can make young people interested and welcome in projects like OpenChain?

I think it is a little bit difficult to increase young participants in OpenChain activities, because:
1) Companies do not have resources to spare for additional young participants. Companies usually decide participants to OpenChain activities by thinking of workloads of their employees and they cannot assign many employees to OpenChain activities.
2) Participants of OpenChain activities talk about corporate compliance and are required to have experiences in each company. As people who participate in OpenChain activities share information within their companies individually, I think young people at each company are indirectly sharing the contents of OpenChain activities.

I wonder what is your purpose of increasing young participants for OpenChain activities.
For example, if you want to increase the number of ML participants or hear the opinions of young people at SWG, it is important to clarify the purpose of increasing the number of young people before considering countermeasures.
Or, it might be a good idea to use ML to introduce practical content that young people might be interested in, or to create SWGs that require young people’s input.



There is a big difference between tactical activities that solve day-to-day problems and strategic activities that solve bigger challenges. OpenChain is basically focused on strategy. This means our participants think about the future and it means we also have to think about how many tactical actions can serve a strategic mission. People often ask how to do this and they often mention that it is hard to think strategically when many business metrics are based on quarterly activities. Do you have any suggestions based on your own experience?

Though I think compliance is important when using OSS in business, developers using OSS should not be forced to spend a lot of effort and time on compliance. OSS users must first have accurate and easy access to OSS licenses and copyright information for reducing related workload. In order to do this, I think it is important to take measures at the time of initial OSS development.
Specifically, I think it is better to unify OSS license descriptions and copyright information locations.
For example, if OSS developers create information about SPDX items and attach it to the OSS they develop, it would be easy for OSS users to get the information they need.
Once this is achieved, OSS licenses and copyright information is handled systematically and compliance can be readily observed through the use of systems that manage OSS.


We have asked many serious questions in this interview. Each of your answers is extremely valuable for our current and our future community. OpenChain is all about sharing knowledge and helping everyone do better. However, we are not only a dry, factual community. We also have many positive social relationships and there is a hope or a goal that OpenChain can be fun too. We are all together collaborating to solve interesting challenges. Do you have any tips for how people can come into a project like OpenChain and find the experience rewarding personally as well as in a business sense?

In addition to the OpenChain Japan WG, I also participate in activities of the OSS Licensing Laboratory. In the activities, it is very attractive to exchange information about OSS license compliance with other members.
In our normal business activities, we have some relationship such as competing companies or service provider and customers. However in the activities of the OpenChain Japan WG and OLL, we can have a discussion for the same purpose of OSS compliance with equal relationship. Through the activities, I often find that different companies may have a same problem, or a new perception from a different perspective.
I strongly recommend those activities to companies that are not joining yet.

私は、OpenChain Japan WG の他、OSSライセンス研究所(OLL)にも参加しています。これらの活動の中で、直接のビジネスとは関係なく、OSSのコンプライアンスについて、他社のメンバと情報交換できるのはとても魅力的です。
通常のビジネスでは、競合していたり、当社のお客様だったりしますが、OpenChain Japan WGやOLLの場合、OSSのコンプライアンスという同じ目的のもと、平等な立場で会話することができます。また、各社で同じ課題を持っていたり、異なる観点を聞いて、新たな気づきがあったりすることもあります。

Finally, you have been so kind to answer these questions in English. However, the future of open source and OpenChain is not in English, but instead in languages like Mandarin or Japanese. The future is making sure people in each nation can work together freely. We already hold the local work group meetings in the local language but is there a way we can reduce language barriers even more?

As mentioned in my answer for a question above, utilizing translation tools available these days would be one option. For example, there is a tool that translates the audio of a meeting in real time and displays it as text. Another option would be utilizing a software that translates chat conversations on SNS, though it may take additional time to input the conversation to text, and would reduce meetings progress. Because of the security limitations of the tools available to companies, it may be a while before you can actually use them.


Thank you Ouchi San for your time and thoughts!

Thank you for having a chance to answer your questions.