June 1, 2011

Prof. Satoshi Harashima (President, The Society for Biotechnology, Japan)

I am Satoshi Harashima from the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka University; I was appointed the president of the Society for Biotechnology, Japan (SBJ) on May 27, 2011.

SBJ will celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2012. It has a long history with 40 years as the Osaka Brewing Society, 30 years as the Society of Fermentation Technology, Japan, and 20 years as the Society for Biotechnology, Japan. It has been 100 years since the establishment of the Osaka Advanced Technical School Brewing Association, which marked the establishment of SBJ as well (1910, Meiji 43).

I am honored to be appointed the president of such a long-established society; however, at the same time, I must confess that I feel overwhelmed by the weight of my responsibility for this mission. I endeavor to contribute to the further development of our society with the help of Vice President Kenji Sonomoto, Professor of Kyushu University, Vice President Kenzo Yanagi, former executive director of Suntory Holdings Limited, and twenty-seven executive board members.

After serving as vice president under the leadership of the former president, Shinji Iijima, I appreciate that the society members are encouraging me to develop this society further following the former president’s policy during the two years of my term. 

Various reforms were made to the society under the leadership of the former president.  One of the achievements was the registration of SBJ as a Public Interest Corporation from the Public Interest Corporation Commission on April 1, 2011.  Henceforth, SBJ is expected to contribute to the public more than ever, which means that we will be given more opportunities to contribute to the general public and the industrial world.

Under the former president, the society witnessed reforms such as the establishment of a “Committee for the Industrial-Academic Complex” for strengthening cooperation among industries, universities, and the government and a “Planning Board” to make the society’s activities more attractive.  In addition, since SBJ is a supervisory society for all related academic societies in the field of biotechnology of the Japan Accreditation Board for Engineering Education (JABEE), a director was newly appointed in the society to be in charge of education in order to enable SBJ to take the lead in furthering advanced biotechnology education in our country.  These are just a few examples, and it is our mission for this term to promote the basic policy of these reforms, implement them, and establish ourselves as an academic society that is the leader in biotechnology in the entire world, and not just in Asia.

Toward the 100th anniversary of the society, I envision the following three missions, which have been divided into seven tasks, during my term:

  • “From Academia to Industry” - aiming for further contribution to the public as a Public Interest Corporation.

1) Establish the base for SBJ’s development through the execution of the 90th anniversary celebrations, thereby preparing for the 100th anniversary.
2) Clarify SBJ’s identity as an academic society of industrial biotechnology that is closely related to industry and society. 
3) Disseminate up-to-date information regarding the basic study of biotechnology and industrial application to the public through the Japanese journal, “Seibutsu-kogaku Kaishi.”

  • “From a Domestic to an Asian Perspective” - aiming to improve the global presence of SBJ.

4) Accelerate international development with the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering (JBB) as the main axis.
5) Assume the role of a leader in establishing friendship and cooperation among related societies in Asian countries.
6) Take the lead in the education of engineers in the field of biotechnology, not only in our country but also around the world.

  • “From Seniors to Juniors” - aiming to foster younger generations who aim to study biotechnology

7) Promote the training of young biotechnologists across the world as leaders of the next generations in order to strengthen the development of SBJ and for contribution to the public.

With regard to the first task, we would like to commemorate the 90th anniversary of SBJ not just transiently, but as the basis for the 100th anniversary celebration, ten years hence. With regard to the second task, we aim to enhance the identity of our society characterized by engineered approaches and developments in all the diversified fields of biotechnology, such as industrial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, medical biotechnology, marine biotechnology, and environmental biotechnology, while retaining the roots and traditions of SBJ in brewing technology, fermentation technology, culture engineering, etc. With regard to the third task, we would like to enhance our relations with the general public and the industrial world through our Japanese journal that, along with our English journal, is the main source of information in our field.

“From Academia to Industry” implies that we will conduct the activities of the society by taking into consideration the interests of the industry and public more than before, and, at the same time, value academia and government as we did earlier.

With regard to the fourth task, we will not spare any effort in maintaining the Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering as the foremost international biotechnology journal. With regard to the fifth task, considering that the societies related to academic biotechnology in China and South Korea are developing and gaining power, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that we play a leading role among Asian countries in amiable cooperation. With regard to the sixth task, bearing in mind that scientific and technical fields related to biotechnology are expanding further, SBJ must be the academic society that leads the development of biotechnology education in order to establish an academic discipline not only in our country but also in the world.

“From a Domestic to an Asian Perspective” implies that I am determined to manage the society from a global perspective, in keeping with every aspect of the current trend of globalization.

Task Seven is an important matter for the future of the society. We would like to create an environment where the younger generation, including graduate students, belonging to the industrial, governmental, or academic fields can play an active role without inhibition. We intend to advance SBJ’s transfiguration through active participation of women, personnel training targeting even middle or high school students, and educational campaigns. Human resource development is crucial for the development of SBJ and, simultaneously, for its contribution to society.

“From Seniors to Juniors” might sound slightly exaggerated; however, although we value seniors, we would like to establish a society where young people can nurture a grand dream of transforming SBJ over the next century (100 years), after 100 years of its establishment.

Needless to say, we aim to develop the society for our members. An academic society cannot develop without the satisfaction of its members’ satisfaction. In other words, we must work diligently so that everyone, from seniors to juniors, organization members, and supporting members can be satisfied and proud of their membership of SBJ.

These missions cannot be accomplished without strong support from all our members. I sincerely appreciate the understanding and cooperation of the 3,200, or more, members of this society, their active commitment to branch and division activities, and the emotional and financial support provided by our organization and its supporting members.

The Society for Biotechnology, Japan
Satoshi Harashima


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