2017-18 President Takeshi KAWAI

Professor, Tokyo University of Science

Janualy 2019

New Year Greetings!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year! Once again, I am committed to doing my best for the further development of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS) in the year ahead and would ask for your continued support of our membership.

Looking back over the past fiscal year, we recall the sudden passing of the head of the secretariat, Mr. Kazuhiko Kuwata. We were incredibly shocked at this unexpected loss, and I would like to offer our sincere and heartfelt condolences. The burden of filling the void left by Mr. Kuwata’s passing has fallen to Dr. Tanaka and the rest of the administrative staff as well as our committee members, particularly the committee chairs. I would also like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to the former head of the secretariat, Mr. Kiyomiya for his loyal support as a volunteer. Dr. Yukihiro Kaneko stepped in last November as Mr. Kuwata’s successor. With the cooperation and support of the new secretariat, I would like to pursue Secretary Head Kuwata’s intention to remodel our Society, in particular, by modernizing the way our Annual Meeting is planned and managed as well as its financial situation.

Turning to our annual meeting, which represents our Society’s most important activity, we are gradually implementing measures to realize the efficient planning and management of an engaging Annual Meeting through the efforts of the Annual Meeting Reform Promotion Committee. I am told that a definite reform plan will be put into practice following next fiscal year’s Annual Meeting.

The 57th Annual Meeting of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society was held last fiscal year at Kobe Gakuin University thanks to the key role played by Prof. Nagao Totani. While the first day of the meeting was canceled due to a typhoon, as you are aware, the oral presentations, poster presentations, JOCS-AOCS Joint Symposium, and other events proceeded smoothly from the second day, bringing the meeting to a very successful conclusion. Even though the predicted path of the typhoon was issued as much as a week before the Annual Meeting, we did not believe that we would end up in its direct path. I received an e-mail from Prof. Totani asking for advice about the schedule late Saturday night (three days before the Annual Meeting). After frequent discussions by the Annual Meeting Executive Committee, they made the difficult decision on Sunday to cancel the first day of the meeting. Although I was safe in my hotel room in Kobe when the typhoon struck, I had a real sense of the typhoon’s ferocity from the shaking of the building, and I was truly grateful for Prof. Totani’s sound judgment in canceling the first day of the meeting. Also, while a JOCS-AOCS Joint Symposium was held as part of the 57th Annual Meeting, some AOCS members had trouble making it to the venue. However, their smiling faces conveyed that the event was “a conference presentation they would never forget,” and this was a great relief. One of our laboratory students who left Tokyo on the morning of the day that the typhoon caused landfall did not arrive at Shin-Osaka Station until midnight. Finally, although he stayed the night on the Shinkansen before he made it to the conference venue, he said it was a good memory.

During this fiscal year, the 58th Annual Meeting is scheduled to be held at the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology from September 24 to 27 (Conference Chair: Prof. Naohiro Goto), and I hope that the event will be brought to a successful conclusion with everyone’s active participation. The sites of future annual meetings, as well, have nearly been finalized. In fiscal year 2020, our Tokai Branch will meet at Gifu University, while the Kansai branch will meet at the Kochi University of Technology in 2021. Moreover, 2022 marks the Society’s 70th anniversary. As the conference chair, Prof. Kōichi Asakura of Keio University, has been suggesting potential sites outside of Tokyo that have never hosted the conference, for example Kushiro in Hokkaido. I think we can all look forward to this event.

Last autumn, I had the opportunity to attend a celebratory gathering in honor of the 99th birthday of Emeritus Prof. Ayao Kitahara (an honorary member). Considering the constant stream of articles he has produced on the history of chemistry and his eloquent manner of speaking, I felt both amazement and a sense of longing as I wondered how old I might become while retaining such an articulate mind. While I believe that physical health is of paramount importance for sustaining healthy brain function, the truth of the matter is that I tend to get caught up in the hectic affairs of daily life, allowing days to pass without getting any exercise. With alcohol as well, I’ve developed the bad habit of overindulging, telling myself that just a little will be okay. This year, I would like to reconsider my lifestyle and dedicate time to taking care of my body so that I might keep my brain working even just a little longer.

As always, I look forward to your support in the year ahead.

June 2018

Message from Our New President

My appointment as president for fiscal 2017 and 2018 was recently decided at a meeting of the board of directors held at our 63rd regular general meeting. While this important role may be more than I deserve, I will do my utmost to contribute to the further development of the traditions of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS).

Our Society is a networked organization of researchers and engineers taking a variety of approaches to dealing with oils and fats, surfactants, and other related substances, and is characterized by its composition of interdisciplinary personnel from the industrial, governmental, and academic sectors. In other words, our Society is one that provides ample opportunities to acquire a wide range of problem-solving tips and ideas for different types of research, from state-of-the-art functional materials to the development of foods that are a part of a healthy diet and articles for daily use that aim to improve quality of life.

The specialty areas of our members can be broadly divided into the oils and fats field and the interfacial science field, and it is important that an organic network should be constructed in order that members will be able to make effective use of our Society. Although this central role is one that is currently served by the experts’ division committee, I feel that the links between the oils and fats field and the interfacial science field remain tenuous. Rather than a thick axle linking two wheels of a car, I feel that the association between the two fields is akin to a slightly dysfunctional relationship between the right brain and the left brain. In other words, while each group usually contributes to the development of JOCS through their own activities, organic linkages between the two fields generally occur only in branch activities and at annual meetings, suggesting the presence of a thin barrier between the two. For my own part, when I look back over the past, including my own reflections, I find that my consciousness of the fats and oils fields was limited to those times when I was editing a textbook for a freshman seminar, planning branch seminars, or editing the program for the annual meeting. Therefore, as president, in order to make our Society a more conducive site for exchanges, I would like to work on creating mechanisms for encouraging interactions between the two fields.

Making a survey of the JOCS, research and personnel exchanges (such as our annual meetings, branch, and experts’ division activities) and our academic promotion and dissemination activities (such as freshman seminar) are generally in good condition, thanks in large part to active contributions from our membership. However, as I announced in the prefatory remarks in the June edition of this journal last fiscal year as chair of the steering committee, our financial situation remains very unstable as a result of constant deficits due principally to the decrease in our membership. To escape from this situation, I have asked the chair of the Future Concept Committee, Professor Dai Kitamoto of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, to work out a growth strategy for the JOCS. A summary of the committee’s findings was reported at the regular general meeting as “A Proposal for the Sustainable Development of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society.”

I understand that the Future Concept Committee has been engaged in comprehensive discussions concerning the organization and activities of the Society, beginning with its study of details reported by the Millennium Committee in 2000, entitled “Necessary Measures for Revitalizing the Society.” They have proposed that the position of the JOCS be expressed in the pithy catchphrase, “The intersection of scientists and engineers breaking new ground in oleo science to support comfortable living,” and that we moreover focus on reform proposals and reinforcement measures to revive the JOCS. Among their several proposals is the advice that it will be important to position the policy of “rather than increasing membership, to prioritize increasing the number of participants at the annual meeting” as a pillar of reform. Therefore, I would like to ask the Annual Meeting Reform Promotion Committee (chaired by the new chair of the steering committee, Prof. K?ichi Asakura, Keio University), which we have newly organized this fiscal year, to provide us with tactics for reforming the annual meeting, moving to implementation as necessary with a view to completion in about three years’ time. The news that this fiscal year’s annual meeting will be held jointly with the 2nd Asian Conference on Oleo Science at the Kagurazaka Campus of the Tokyo University of Science was announced by Professor Hideki Sakai (Tokyo University of Science) in the prefatory remarks of this journal two issues ago. Since the active participation by many members in the annual meeting will be the first step toward reform, your participation will by all means be sincerely appreciated.

Now, one thing that I would like to keep in mind as president is, as much as possible, to strive to continue the accumulated legacy of tradition and the aspirations of my predecessors. However, as you will note from the proposal by the Future Concept Committee, since the situation confronting our Society will require “zero-based thinking” that involves selecting the optimal solution from a blank slate rather than being bound by existing frameworks, that some past customs will be left behind is to be fully expected. In such cases, I thank you in advance for your kind understanding and cooperation.

Although I have been speaking here of some rather formal matters, I am not normally that type of person. And since JOCS itself is such a friendly organization and we will be engaging in the above tasks in a relaxed manner, I thank you very much for your support.