Message from Professor Takashi Onishi, President of SCJ
The Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011 posed a pointed question on the role of science in our society. The devastation caused by the tsunami upon so many communities has revealed that many of our social infrastrcutures and buildings are built on a fragile foundation. The subsequent nuclear accident that spread radiation over a wide area only tells us that the science and technology behind our nuclear power plants is still far from perfect. Where does science fit in when it comes to making the world a better place to live? Where should those of us working on the frontiers of science go from here? Science in Japan and the scientists working here must find the answers to these important questions as part of their social responsibility.
The history of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) dates back to its establishment in January 1949. While the SCJ has undergone a number of changes in the course of its history, the latest important reform was implemented in 2005. That overhaul included the introduction of a six-year term without reappointment and mandatory retirement at the age of 70. It boosted the ranks of our female membership, increased members who reside outside major metropolitan regions, adopted a new election method where current Council members elect members for the next term, introduced the general member system, and more. While this reform had multiple objectives, one of the most vital goals was to keep moving forward with an eye to ensuring that the Council remained a vibrant, representative body with elected members from across the scientific community. Today, with a Council whose members have all been elected under the new system, we can see the seeds of that reform bearing fruit.
The SCJ promotes research that is paving the way to the cutting-edge of science while working to bring the benefits of scientific advancements to the lives of people everywhere as it partners with the international scientific community to create a brighter and more peaceful world for all. At the heart of these efforts lie two problems the SCJ must focus on. First we must find the right answers to the lingering questions left behind in the aftermath of the multiple disasters of March 11 and fulfill the hope in science.
We must also chart a course that will enable us to realize all the objectives outlined in the reform of the SCJ. For this reason we attach great importance to collaboration with scientists in the world, especially in Asia. During the 20th century the world focused on advanced industrial countries in the West in our search for scientific progress. With the dawn of the new century, the global spotlight has shifted to Asia, South America and Africa and we must now seize every opportunity to develop deeper ties with the scientific community particularly throughout Asia. Science and technology is still remaining as the most prioritized national policy in Japan, thus, we must endeavor to double our efforts in advising the government, industry and public as we team up with relevant academic organizations to stay ahead in the fields of science and technology. We very much appreciate your kind support and understanding in this regard.
Takashi Onishi, President of the Science Council of Japan