Message from Our New President – May 2021

JOCS President Prof. Dai KITAMOTO 

My appointment as president for fiscal 2021 and 2022 was recently decided at our 67th regular general meeting and 447th meeting of the board of directors. While this important role may be more than I deserve, I would like to make every possible effort toward the further development of the traditions of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS).

Since last year, the social situation has been turbulent due to the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 infection, and everyday life has changed significantly. Nowadays, it is not easy to ensure safety and security in daily life, and there are restrictions in every situation. For many, the “comfortable living” that once existed may be becoming a distant memory.

On the other hand, this situation has also caused positive behavioral changes. Due to the influence of COVID-19, online business has expanded, resulting in “unexpected time”, which is triggering the creation of new ideas and businesses. We were forced to cancel various events and change the holding method. However, as a result of deciding to hold the annual meeting online in March of last year and proceeding with preparations through trial and error, we were able to obtain the same number of participants and profits as before. The effect of holding online was much higher than expected, with an average of more than 100 hearings for each presentation and the ability to diversify advertising formats.

The “Future Concept Committee” (2017), which I chaired, positioned “maximizing the annual meeting” as a pillar from the perspective of sustainable development of the JOCS, and proposed solutions for that purpose. In response to this, the “Annual Meeting Reform Promotion Committee” (chaired by Professor Kouichi ASAKURA, Keio University) was established, and reform tactics are being implemented at any time at subsequent annual meetings. The burden on the executive committee of the annual meeting, the convenience and capacity of the venue, and the bias in the number of presentations for each session, which were troublesome issues at that time, can be easily solved by holding online, and thus the results of the activities of this promotion committee are highly expected at this year’s annual meeting.

In addition to various policy proposals, the Future Concept Committee also formulated a vision based on the following three characteristics of the JOCS.

-We cover a wide range of science and technology fields

-We have many researchers and engineers belonging to companies, compared to other academic societies

-We aim at science, technology, and products that are very closely related to daily life

The proposed vision is “The intersection of scientists and engineers breaking new ground in oleo science to support comfortable living” (did you know that it is at the top of the JOCS homepage?), representing that the JOCS has an open atmosphere, where various researchers and engineers are free to interact with each other and create a starting point for technologies and products that support new academic fields and healthy and comfortable lives. Indeed, it is a group that focuses on “comfortable living” and can regain the daily life that was lost in the COVID-19 disaster and contribute to the creation of a new daily life.

We have promoted “improvement of the quality of our journals” as well as “maximizing the annual meeting”. Due to the wise judgment of seniors, the “Journal of Oleo Science (JOS)”, which consists of only scientific articles, was first published in 2001. After that, the electronic version of the journal was started, and it became a purely English journal and began receiving an impact factor since 2010. Then, in April of this year, the JOS has been accepted for indexing in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). This clearly shows that our journal has a high international influence and has an appropriate and accurate peer review function. It is expected that the number of submitted papers will increase and the content will be expanded soon.

Based on our vision, let’s overcome the current COVID-19 crisis and continue to grow into a more attractive and sustainable academic society by further promoting flexible and multifaceted cooperation among members. In addition, let’s make full use of the characteristics of our society and create a starting point of “comfortable living” and contribute to the promotion of SDGs as a public interest incorporated association. Next year, the 2nd World Congress on Oleo Science will be held as a commemorative project for the 70th anniversary of the JOCS. We look forward to your continued understanding and support in the future.

(National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Director of Chugoku Center)

Message from the President of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society

JOCS President Prof. Kouichi ASAKURA 

January 2021

Things That Should and Should Not Be Changed

 “Executing our mission without reckless valor in the wake of present circumstances” was the catchphrase of the 59th annual meeting of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society. The virtual meeting was held in November last year, a hasty change from the original plan. The submission of research articles to academic journals is extremely important for researchers in academia, since their personal evaluation is essentially determined by the quantity and quality of their publications. Furthermore, their tremendous achievements, published as research articles, may bring researchers large-scale public funds. Although there is a tendency to place importance on the publication of refereed articles, oral and poster presentations in annual meetings have not become obsolete. On the contrary, more and more seminars and symposiums tend to include oral and poster presentation sessions by participants in addition to the invited lecturers. I feel that exchanging important information, such as expertise that is difficult to understand from the written manuscript, as well as the inside story about the process of setting experimental conditions, can be possible through face-to-face communication, and researchers recognize its importance. 

 However, “in the wake of present circumstances,” face-to-face communication is not possible. Although we are now planning to organize a face-to-face annual meeting later this year, it is just a plan, and no one knows whether it will be held or not. In addition, plans for seminars and symposiums of this year have not yet been decided. However, it is our responsibility to “execute our mission” by continuing our research and development on Oleo Science to lead our society in a good direction. Last year, I was appointed to carry out the duties of chairperson of the annual meeting temporarily, and I organized a virtual meeting in which participants remotely connected with each other “without reckless valor” against the fear of virus infection. In the virtual annual meeting, we decided to perform all presentations and lectures as on-demand video, and all questions and answers were exchanged in writing because of the anxiety regarding computers and internet connections. The meeting thus lacked a sense of reality. In our next virtual annual meeting, enhancing articipants’ sense of reality is important. It behooves us to make use of technological innovations in this progressive age of virtual reality. 

 In fact, holding the annual meeting online actually let us realize the usefulness of the Internet. Participants do not need to wonder about choosing which presentations to listen to in instances of overlap, and researchers living far do not need to hesitate in attending the meeting. In my last year’s New Year Message, I emphasized the importance of the internationalization of society, along with interdisciplinary interactions. It is easy to access virtual meetings even from the other side of the globe. Similarly, while making presentations in Japanese is regarded as usual for Japanese researchers, and presentations in English are regarded as exceptional in meetings held in Japan, in an era when everyone can easily access meetings via Internet, even from the other side of the globe, it may be quite natural that Japanese researchers start thinking of presenting in English to attract a larger audience. 

 There are various “things that should be changed” for us. In particular, it is extremely important that we respond to the advancements in information technology flexibly, and maintain the “things that should not be changed,” i.e., placing greater significance on face-to-face communication to exchange important information to develop Oleo Science by remote communication.

January 2020 

   The Bustling of Scramble Intersection of Shibuya Station, the Excited Rugby World Cup Tournament & Innovation of the Annual Meeting of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society

   “About 3,000 for each green light” is the number of people who cross the “Scramble Intersection” of Shibuya Station during the most populated time zone, according to information posted on the website of Shibuya Center-gai (http://center-gai.jp/info/index.asp).   It is always bustling with various kinds of people gathering for various purposes. “Intersection” is also a word that sums up the vision of innovation plan of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society (JOCS)  proposed in 2017 by Future Design Committee led by Chairperson Dr. Dai Kitamoto.   We, at JOCS, are now pushing for an innovative plan based on the vision for our biggest event, the annual meeting, where it becomes “an intersection for researchers and engineers from diverse fields.   They gather at the intersection for diverse purposes to develop a chaotic atmosphere to emerge new alliances, technologies, and academic fields that can be never imagined before.” 

   As an initial trial, the “Main subject symposium: Matching of sees and needs” was held during the 2019 annual meeting by the extraordinary effort of Dr. Naohiro Goto, executive committee chairperson. (The last year’s main subject symposium was unfortunately cancelled because of the typhoon.)   Under the leadership of Dr. Tomohiro Imura, chairperson of the planning and management committee of the annual meeting, academic researchers introduced cutting-edge research results and policies on education, while researchers from industrial fields explained their requirements in the technologies and human resources field. Many people actively particiapted in the discussions during the symposium and poster session.   Our annual meetings in 2020 and 2021 will be held in Gifu and Kochi, respectively, and the executive committee chairpersons for these will be Dr. Mamoru Koketsu and Dr. Nagatoshi Nishiwaki, respectively.   The annual meeting is expected to evolve as a “Bustling Intersection of Industry and  Academia”.

   On a different note, Rugby World Cup tournament in 2019 generated a lot of excitement across Japan.   However, there is one thing that makes me disappointed. Although the number of Japanese players was 24 in the Japan’s national team, a majority of Japanese believe that it was 16 or 15. (They seem to think that the number is 16 or 15 depending on
whether they look at the name list or picture list.)   In addition, three in seven foreign players graduated from Japanese universities or high schools.   This situation made me remember the event just after I completed my sabbatical year in the US and returned to my university in 1997.   I heard the word “Ryugakusei” for the first time in a year (it segregates foreign students from Japanese students in Japan).   In the US, compared to students born and raised in America, an increasing number of students coming from the other countries were studying at the graduate school of so-called
research universities even in the middle of the 1990’s.   I remember that neither segregations nor special cares was provided to overseas students at US universities.

   The second concept of the innovation plan for the annual meeting is “Intersection of Researchers and Engineers from Diverse Background.”   It would be nice if our annual meeting evolves into an intersection where diverse people from different places gather to succeed, just like BRAVE BLOSSOMS, Japan’s national rugby team. In order to ignite the evolution of our annual meeting, we have decided to launch “Selected Lectures” instead of reducing the number of invited lectures at the 2nd World Congress on Oleo Science to be held in Kushiro city in 2022 to commemorate the
70th anniversary of JOCS.   The major concept of “Internationalization” in Japan may involve contacting an authority or leading group in the world to follow and emulate their success story. Therefore, many presentations were made by authorities invited in the international conferences.   On the contrary, for “Selected Lectures”, the executive committee selects aspiring researchers among applicants from across the world, who will provide renewed and vital primary information.   In other words, the plan is not based on the concept of “Inviting Zico or Iniesta here to learn
everything from them”, but is based on “Sowing the seeds of talented persons who wish to choose this place, to make great efforts in this place, and to vitalize this place like Michael Leitch or Kotaro Matsushima”. 

   I feel that I heard nice words at the award presentation of JOCS Award for Young Scientist by Dr. Makoto Uyama at the 2019 annual meeting. That is “The past success experience occasionally becomes legirons to the future development.” I hope our annual meeting continues to be an innovative affair in order to evolve as an “Intersection.” I thank you very much for your support.   

   In conclusion, let me wish you a Happy New Year! I hope the year 2019 or Reiwa 2nd, when Japan hosts the
Summer Olympic Games for the first time in 56 years, will be a wonderful one for you.

June 2019

   When one visits Jingu Stadium to watch a baseball game of my university’s team, one can listen the school song of the rival university, which includes the phrase, “Eternal ideal without forgetting reality.” Pursuing an ideal, especially an eternal ideal, as an organization may induce its members to have motivation and dreams regarding their futures. However, if the process of pursuing an eternal ideal is removed from reality by doing perfunctory deal with present problems and missing profits by obsessing to much on the difference of direction from the ideal, as well as pushing the members to exhaustion—members may no longer feel a sense of belonging to the organization.

   My appointment as president was made in the year when the era changed from Heisei 31st to Reiwa 1th (2019), and it was recently decided at our 65th regular general meeting and 430th meeting of the board of directors. Looking at our history, we can realize that the efforts of our seniors have been wonderful, and they exactly pursued the “Eternal ideal without forgetting reality.” The best example is the changes in our journal.

   Our journal used to play the dual role of publishing research articles and providing information, and it published a mix of Japanese and English articles by the end of the last century. This type of  journal is convenient for readers. However, the motivation of researchers to submit excellent manuscripts to our journal declined sharply during last two decades of the last century owing to the increasing trend of judging researchers’ achievements through their quantitative evaluation. Our society then began publishing the Journal of Oleo Science, which consists of only scientific articles, from 2001. After that, the electronic version of the journal was started, and it became a purely English journal and began receiving an impact factor since 2010. This journal established a platform for the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society to pursue an ideal and lead the field of oleo science worldwide. Moreover, our society simultaneously publishes Oleoscience (in Japanese alphabet) consisting of  important information to meet the real demand of readers getting the information in this field in Japanese. As always, I look forward to your support in the year ahead.

   One feature of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society is its diversity. However, we may recognize that there are various types of axes of diversity. Of course, the first is the axis of the research field, such as [Lipid life science ↔ Chemistry of oils and fats for food and daily necessaries ↔ Oils and fats industrial technology ↔ Detergent technology ↔ Synthesis of surfactants ↔ Interface physical science]. In addition, there are axes of diversity with the purpose of encouraging members’ participation in this society: [Presenting information ↔ Taking information] and [Individual oriented ↔ Organization  oriented]. Our society, therefore, should recognize that we should meet the demand of being multi-diverse when developing new plans. Regarding our journal, we did not separate it by research fields, unlike journals of the American Oil Chemists’ Society that are distinguished into two types—oils and fats chemistry and surfactant and detergent chemistry. We are proud to propose the academic field of “oleo science” to create an environment that enhances cooperation between our diverse research fields. Nevertheless, we did separate the journal into two based on language—one consisting of only scientific English articles and the other consisting of Message from the President of the Japan Oil Chemists’ Society Inaugural Remarks

   I resigned from almost all the posts of committee member of our society at the time of my appointment as president. I, however, continue as the chair of two committees, one for the reform and promotion of the annual meeting and the other for the preparation of the 70th anniversary events. I am planning to challenge some programs to ensure our annual meeting becomes an active  international intersection of industries and academics, by encouraging an atmosphere of openness to allow new interdisciplinary ideas as well as of austerity and fortitude to ensure the ideas are at the
academic level. Specifically, we are planning to establish sections for “academic–industrial collaboration” and “selected international lectures.” We are conducting the 2nd World Congress on Oleo Science at Kushiro city in Hokkaido in 2022 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of our establishment. We would like to complete the new style of meeting by 2022 and continue using this style afterward.

   I have made up my mind to pursue the “Eternal ideal without forgetting reality,” a phrase that appeared in a school song of our rival university in conformity with the “Spirit of staunch activeness and indomitable indefatigability”, the words of my school’s founder. I thank you very much for your support.

JOCS President Kouichi ASAKURA information in this field in Japanese—to meet the demand for diversity on the axis of encouraging members’ participation in this society [Presenting information ↔ Taking information].

   (Professor,of Keio University)

2019 New Year Greetings!

Former President of Japan Oil Chemists’ Society   Prof. Takeshi KAWAI

   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

   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.

(Prof. of Tokyo University of Science)