Symposium on “Preservation of Bioresources”, memorial speech of His Majesty the Emperor on Linne


On December 9th, I was invited to deliver a keynote speech (its full text (link and PDF ) can be seen, but in Japanese) at the symposium on “preservation of bioresources” at scientific meeting in Kobe.  Before the speech, I had a chance to visit the exhibition of the preserved biological resources.  It was impressive that such a variety of resources were being gathered and studied and exhibited.  Obviously, lots of work were put into this.  I asked to young people around me “Isn’t it hard to believe that every single samples of this huge collection is identified and given a name?  How was it done, I wonder?”
I did the speech along the handouts which I’ve prepared beforehand (recently, I basically don’t use powerpoint), and I think if you are a frequent reader of my blog, you can tell what I said in it.
Although I talked along the sequence in the handouts, what I really wanted to say was the latter half.
Firstly, Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visited Sweden last year (2007) in celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Linne, and was nominated to Honorary Member of Uppsala University (established in 1477).  I understand that there are only four Honorary Members including the King of Sweden. (more photos).
Emperor and Empress then visited Linnean Society (Ref. 1 2 ) to deliver an elegant memorial speech. I read the script and was deeply moved.  In the background of this speech, I think, there exists the basis for respect and honor that the people of Japan feel for the royal family.  It is truly elegant and moving both in content and structure. The speech also touches to the contribution of Linne in giving academic names to so many animals and plants.  I strongly recommend that you read it for yourself.

Uppsala02Photo: At the embassy of Sweden, when the president of Uppsala University, Dr. Hallberg and delegation visited.  Emperor’s visit to Sweden was among the topics.

Who do you think wrote the draft?  I can’t think of anyone else but the Emperor himself, for the most part.  It is truly amazing.  If you think about the overwhelming amount of his public duties, if you just imagine that, it is easy to understand how much effort was needed for this.  I’ve always wanted to ask people to read the script, and this keynote speech was a good opportunity.
Second is the recent topic “Is Ainu of Japan the first humans to colonize in America?” It is very important to gather samples and keep them organized, whatever they may be. Progress of technologies for analysis is of no use if samples are not available.

Science, or whatever, is built on the basis of accumulation of effort by long lines of our predecessors.  We owe to their works.  Asking questions like “what is the merit for this?” in academic policy making, grant distribution, petition to government officials is such a shortsighted attitude, poor way of thinking.