It has been decided that I will take over the office of president of The Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers, which has a 120-year history, from the former President Hisashi Hara. I have never experienced the position of the president, and I am worried about whether I can assume such a heavy responsibility, but I feel somehow that things will work out. Despite my lack of experience, what made me decide to undertake this position was the circumstances that the president would be appointed from those associated with universities in the Kansai region, but also because I felt that I had to repay, even if only slightly, my obligation to the Society that has been taking care of me for nearly 40 years. The Society has a history of 120 years, which means the Society has been taking care of me for one third of its history and fostered me. The present status of The Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineering, for which we held the 120th anniversary ceremony and which will embark on a new journey is extremely difficult. I have been hearing comments from ship builders such as "Loss disposition" or "Withdrawing from the business" due to the sharp decrease in orders received, and universities have been experiencing a shortage of young researchers and have been busy. So, there are hardly any happy stories. We are in such difficult circumstances and we must improve the situation by through our ingenuity, rejuvenating the Society's activities, and making the Society come alive. That is what is required of the executive department in this term.
I often view the Society from the perspective of academia and I think the barometer that indicates the degree of activity of the Society is, after all, the quality and quantity of papers in academic lectures, the number of papers submitted to the collection of academic papers in Japanese and English, and how successful Japanese researchers are in international conferences. By seeing things from that perspective, I honestly think that we are not in a good situation. When I was a student or when I was a young researcher, papers from The Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers drew attention from around the world and there were many world-acclaimed famous senior researchers, but in the recent years, even if we go to international conferences, we are in the situation of "What happened to our past accomplishments?" As a Society, we must make efforts to regain academically-high recognition for Japan. To do that, I think that we must focus on the "Development of young human resources," "Internationalization," and the "Improvement of the collection of academic papers."
As for the development of young human resources, we first need to increase the number of individuals who will enroll in doctoral courses at graduate schools. Accordingly, efforts made only by the universities have limitations. An academic-industrial alliance system in developing young human resources is needed where support for scholarships and research funding will be provided to students through collaborative research by universities and companies, and excellent students will be directly employed by the companies in these collaborative research efforts. If we think in a narrow way such as thinking only about oneself, the Society, which is the base foundation, will collapse.
As for internationalization, we need to actively attract and hold international conferences, symposiums and seminars at the international level to provide young researchers, including students, opportunities to experience it, and make it possible for them to be competitive with their high-quality papers. We need to restore English sessions in the academic lectures, extend invitations in consideration of overseas lectures on advanced research, and make academic lecture contents more attractive and interesting. If young researchers do not abundantly accumulate overseas experience, there will be no internationalization of the Society. It is also necessary for the Society to provide further support for overseas research and international collaborative research efforts.
As for the improvement of the collection of academic papers, we first need to ask the president of the society for scientific study in each field to actively plan organized sessions and make lecture papers high quality. It is also necessary that session organizers actively recommend high-quality papers among the lecture papers submitted to the collections of academic papers in Japanese and English and thoroughly create appropriate procedures.
I am concerned about the vicious cycle that if the Society is not academically vibrant, young researchers will not be fostered, students will not get together, and there will be no students who will find jobs in the marine vessel and marine-related fields. It is necessary that we generate ideas and steadily execute such ideas, and build a win-win relationship through industry-academia-government cooperation. It may be "easier said than done," but I believe that acting is of paramount importance. We face many difficult tasks, but to create an attractive Society, I would like to ask everyone to actively participate. My two-year term may go by very quickly, but I will try my best. I greatly appreciate your cooperation and support.
The Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers
(May 23, 2017 at the Annual Meeting in Tokyo)