Covid-19 Disaster Turns Misfortune into Fortune – Jan 2022
JOCS President Dai KITAMOTO
Happy New Year to all of you! Last year, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were held amid the continued spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, however, the dismal atmosphere was completely changed by the unexpected triumph of the Japanese athletes, and I am sure many of you spent many exciting days. The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing will be held this year. I can only hope that it will be held safely and that it will once again deliver new drama and emotion.
Needless to say, everyone was at the mercy of the corona scourge from the beginning until the end of last year. Starting with the third wave of the spread of infection and ending with the decay of the fifth wave due to the increase in vaccination rates, I am sure that you have been dealing with various problems at home and in the workplace, making the most of what you encountered in your “new normal” in a situation where there is no way out.
In our society, we have also been trying to manage the annual meeting and other social events “better than ever” without sacrificing any activities, while carefully considering the circumstances from the year before last. As a result, with your great understanding and cooperation, we have been able to maintain the same level of activity at many events as before the Corona disaster.
As for the 60th annual meeting, I realize that all the symposia and projects were as successful in terms of presentations and discussions as those held face-to-face, although the number of participants had decreased as the meeting was moved ahead significantly from the previous meeting.
In addition, the implementation of brief and live presentations as well as the Q&A sessions has substantially improved the conference’s “lack of a sense of realism,” which was the subject of reflection at the previous meeting. We were able to take advantage of the benefits of organizing numerous events online as “on the Web” has become as popular as “face-to-face” in society.
Following this trend, this year’s annual meeting, which will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Society, will also be held online at the end of August, along with the 2nd World Congress on Oleoscience (WCOS2022). Initially, we had planned to hold an inperson conference in Kushiro City, Hokkaido, which is known for scenic beauty and delicious food, however, due to various circumstances, we decided to actively host the conference online. The 3rd World Congress on Oleoscience (WCOS2027) is scheduled to be held inperson in Kushiro City in the summer of 2027, and we
hope that you will join us for both conferences in anticipation of a bright future.
I am sure that your lifestyles and business habits have changed drastically because of the “lost days” from the year before last. Many of the events that we used to take for granted have changed into things that we can do without after the Corona disaster.
Personally, I find it a bit depressing that “social gatherings” or “get-togethers” are becoming one of them. According to a recent questionnaire survey, the number of respondents who answered that “communicating while drinking is unnecessary” in their work has reached more than 60%, outnumbering those who answered that it was “necessary.” I believe that hosting hybrid events will become the norm in future academic societies due to its convenience and profitability, but I just hope that the etiquette will not completely change from “attending a conference and having a frank discussion at a social gathering” to “attending a conference and going home without drinking.”
On the other hand, I have made positive lifestyle changes because of the Corona disaster. Prior to the Corona disaster, I used to spend most of my weekends exercising (swimming, cycling, and running) indoors and outdoors. However, after the Corona disaster, the number of athletic events organized in various regions where I could demonstrate the benefits of this activity has decreased drastically, and thus leaving a gaping hole in my weekend.
Simultaneously, I tried to be positive and make the most of the free time I had on the weekends. That being the case, I started working on learning and acquiring qualifications in different fields that I had been interested in for a long time. Due to the deterioration of memory caused by years of attending social gatherings, “studying for exams” took an unexpectedly long time, and the weekends passed quickly. However, now that various kinds of learning can be achieved easily and efficiently on the web, I enjoy meeting new people and acquiring new knowledge and experiences as if I were going on an expedition to an athletic competition.
Last year, at the symposium of the annual meeting, I presented a lecture on “What Oleoscience can do for a comfortable life in the age of 100 years.” In it, I introduced that “Our society, where people who deal with science and technology closely related to our daily lives come and go in an open atmosphere, can be the starting point for the creation of science, products, and services that contribute to a new everyday life.” With this vision, I would like to wish you all a wonderful year in 2022.
(Director-General, AIST Chugoku, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST),Japan)