‘SSR’ and the Responses of the Scientists/Engineers to the Great Disasters of Japan


After the great disaster in Northern Japan, we – scientists and engineers – had to face numerous problems of all sorts, just like others.  Various experts made comments on the TV and other media.  What did their peer experts think of those comments?  Did they think that those comments made sense and science-based?

I think most people would agree that the press briefings of the government, TEPCO or Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency (NISA) were so clumsy and incomprehensible detached from the public. It could be that the situation was too complicated that it was difficult even for the scientists or experts to make comments  in depths.

General impression was that, since the authorities presented only their own conclusions/results of their own interpretations without any data, analysis, nor basis of judgments, we felt or became suspicious there had to be some reasons for such conducts.  I believe this is true.  Many people responsible appeared to be simply trying to get away with excuses such as ‘not sure’ or ‘have not been confirmed yet’…

In this connected information age, however, if actual data releaved later, credibility of the authority and/or any organization will rapidly deteriorate.

I notice recently that major Japanese media, seemingly repenting on their poor initial behavior, started to publish special issues focusing on the future. (They were all the same and looked terrible in the beginning, though).  The Nikkei Newspaper launched this week a series; ‘A New Start from The Crises’ Part 1 ‘Towards the New Japan’.  It looks pretty good.

In Part two, “A Technology Nation ‘In the Well’” (in Japanese), they quote my comments.  The concept of ‘Intellectually Closed Nation’ (Ref.1)(2005, in Japanese), (Ref.2)(2005, in Japanese), (Ref.3)(2006)(Ref.4)(2006, in Japanese), (Ref.5)(2009), (Ref.6)(2009),(Ref.7)(2010) which I repeatedly touch upon in this blog and elsewhere, is introduced, also.

I expect all Japanese scientists and engineers to understand that their value (their responsibility is not limited to research only) is evaluated by the peers and the public of the wide world not only by how they behave in Japan but in the world.

I don’t want to sound self-seeking, but ‘Japan Perspective’, a report by the Science Counsel of Japan in 2005, under the supervision of President Yoshikawa and I served as Chair of the committee, points out clearly the basics of the issues on how Japanese scientists should connect with the society, not from vertical ‘silo’ points of views, but from a horizontal perspective.

It is crucial for all scientists and engineers to recognize their strength and weakness, to see the changes and needs of the society of our age, and to have a strong vision on how to address the issues of the society and put those visions into actions.

This, in short, is the SSR ‘Scientists’ -as a community- Social Responsibility’ in this global world, I strongly believe.