Happy new year 2005

→ Japanese

A happy new year to you all. I wanted to update my blog more frequently last year, but too bad that I couldn’t due to quite a busy year.

Well, The Science Council of Japan will be transferred to the Cabinet Office as of April 1st and the new organization will kick off as of October 1st.  This year’s theme is “annis mirabilis” (for those of you who are not familiar with what this means, please look it up on the internet) and a lot of event will take place all over the world to commemorate Einstein as the “International Year of Physics”.

1901 was a year of physics which dramatically changed the 20th century and that’s when Dr.Rontgen won the first Nobel Prize in Physics. The X-ray contributed very much to the physical and biological research throughout the century. Japan also produced many scientists who contributed in the filed of physics with world class works. Nobel Prize winners include Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Dr. Shinichiro Tominaga, Dr. Leona Esaki, Dr. Masatoshi Koshiba. It was Dr. Kenjiro Yamakawa, the 6th President of Tokyo Imperial University that started up Japan’s physics in the Meiji era. Dr. Aikitsu Tanakadate and Dr. Hantaro Nagaoka who built the foundation of Japan’s physical research were Dr. Yamakawa’s first students.

2004 was Dr. Yamakawa’s 150th anniversary. He was originally from Aizu and joined the Byakotai (White Tiger Corps) at the age of 14 (but couldn’t be a regular member since he was physically weak). He survived the Tsurugajo and with the recommendation from Seiki Kuroda, he earned a chance to study in America at Yale University at the age of 17. He studied physics and returned to Japan when he was 22. He first became a teacher at the Kaisei School which was the predecessor of University of Tokyo, then a professor at the University of Tokyo and finally the President. He was a man of conviction and devoted his life to science education. In 1905, he resigned from the Presidency of University of Tokyo taking the blame for the Tomizu case after the Japanese-Russo war. Then, he was appointed as the President of Meiji Senmon Gakko (currently the Kyushu Institute of Technology) in Hakata as well as the President of Kyushu Imperial University which was newly established. He later became the President of Tokyo Imperial University, President of Kyoto Imperial University and Principal of Musashi High school (he is the 2nd principal, but virtually the first). He was indeed a great educator, a rebel spirited man with belief who have fully dedicated his life to education.

This is the kind of person we need for our country now. A book “A biography of Kenjiro Yamakawa” by Ryoichi Hoshi is published from Heibonsha.  I urge you to read it.  Sutematsu Oyama, who went to the U.S. with Umeko Tsuda as a member of Iwakura Mission, is the younger sister of Dr.Yamakawa who returned to Japan after graduating from Vassar College. She was the second wife to General Oyama, who flourished in the Rokumeikan society and was a supporter of Umeko Tsuda. Dr. Yamakawa’s elder brother was the chief retainer of Aizu who became a military officer after many hardships after the Meiji Restoration. In 1887 (Meiji 19), at the request of Arinori Mori, Minister of Education of the time, he resigned from the position of Army Colonel and became the Principal of Teacher’s College (currently the University of Tsukuba) where he educated numerous talents.

It would be a good idea to organize an event to introduce the achievements of Dr. Kenjiro Yamakawa as part of the “International Year of Physics”.  I wish someone would think about something like this.

By the way, I hear that a photo exhibition of Einstein’s visit to Japan in 1922 is being held at the Swiss Embassy in Azabu, Tokyo until mid January.