50 Successful Years of the Physical Society of Japan
qPresident, European Physical Society
CH-1211 Geneve 23, Switzerland @
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary it is a great pleasure to congratulate the Physical Society of Japan and all the people who had been involved in the activities of this Society, so successful and beneficial, on behalf of the more than 70,000 members of the European Physical Society from 36 countries.
It might seem that the Physical Society of Japan is a young society compared to some others. However, its roots and traditions reach back far into the past and its history reflects the general development of science from unity into specialized fields. JPS went through a series of transformation similar to those of some other Physical Societies. It started within the frame of the Tokyo Mathematical Society founded in 1877 which was renamed two times, Tokyo Physico-Mathematical Society in 1884 and Physico-Mathematical Society of Japan in 1919. It is interesting to note that in the new names physics came before mathematics indicating the changing interests. Eventually the Physical Society of Japan was born in 1946 by a separation from the previous Society. Professor Takeo
Shimizu,1) the last President of the Physico-Mathematical Society, took the initiative for this step and it was him who drafted its new Statutes.
Due to lack of communication in the past and perhaps also because of language problems the achievements of Japanese physics do sometimes not obtain the appropriate credit. Of course, all physicists are familiar with the outstanding and Nobel Prize winning work of H.
Yukawa,2) S. Tomonaga3) and L. Esaki.4) But many contributions of Japanese physicists to basic and applied research are less known. Who knows that professor T. Shimizu, mentioned above as foun der of the Physical Society of Japan is also the co-inventor of the Wilson cloud chamber. On the roofs of most houses one sees a kind of TV-antenna invented by H.
Yagi5) in 1926, Y. Kato6) and T. Takei7) developed field cooling in magnetic fields around 1930 and S.
Matsuo8) investigated in 1936 the reflection of electromagnetic waves from airplanes laying thus the basis for modern radar. This list of examples could be easily continued.
Inspite of the large geographical separation there had been a close and fruitful cooperation between Japanese and European physics. This goes back to visits of Japanese physicists to European universities since the beginning of this century. K. Honda9)
who contributed so much to the understanding of magnetic materials was in 1907 perhaps the first, soon followed by T. Terada,10)
S. Tomonaga, S. Watanabe11) and many others. I was personally very glad to follow an extremely successful cooperation with Japanese groups in my own field, elementary particle physics. M. Koshiba12)
started the collaboration with his group at the PETRA accelerator at DESY in Hamburg which among other results led to the discovery of the gluon and the next generation of physicists continued at the LEP collider at CERN. Recently Japan has set new signs of worldwide international cooperation by agreeing to participate in the LHC project at CERN to be realized in the coming years.
To our great satisfaction the cooperation between the Physical Society of Japan and the European Physical Society (including the Japan Society of Applied Physics, the American Physical Society and the Association of Asian Pacific Physical Societies) has been growing over the last decades. Several meetings organized in Japan have contributed essentially to promote a common approach to many problems. To mention only two examples: In 1993 it was deemed appropriate to held an informal meeting with representatives of the 5 Societies at the Yukawa Institute in Kyoto organized by JPS and JSAP with the aim to exchange views on topics of common interest and to define ways to increase cooperation. Two joint Statements were agreed upon and published, one on education and public understanding of science and another on international cooperation for large facilities for physics research.
Even more important was the second World Congress of Physical Societies (RACIP2) organized by JPS and JSAP in September 1995 at the UN University at Tokyo. The excellent organization of this conference made it possible to bring together representatives of Physical Societies from all corners of the world and to discuss and come to definite proposals for pressing issues. Telecommunication and electronic publishing, relation between basic and industrial research, education and teaching of physics, how to help developing countries, science policy and communication between science and the general public were some of the issues under consideration.
It is beyond my competence to report on the activities and successes which JPS has had in-
side Japan. But the few examples mentioned above show that JPS has become a full and extremely valuable member of the international family of Physical Societies. From a human point of view the contacts always have been very pleasant and rewarding. JPS is playing an important role in the international physics orchestra and without doubt its involvement will increase in the future.
At the occasion of the 50th anniversary of JPS we wish you a prosperous and brilliant continuation of your existence into a far future and we are looking forward to an even closer cooperation for the benefit of physics in the spirit of serving mankind as a whole.