Address of Congratulation to the 50th Jubileeof the Physical Society of Japan

Helmut Rechenberg

Max-Planck-Institut fr Physik Fohringer Ring 6, 
80805 Mnchen, 
e-mail: hermppmu.mpg.der

Last year, the German Physical Society (DPG) celebrated its 150th birthday|to be fair, it was the BerlinPhysical Society, which was founded in 1845 and expanded into the German Physical Society only in 1899, after the number of out-of-town members had increased immensely. Similarly, this years' celebrant looks back to predecessors: the Physico-Mathematical Society of Japan (founded in 1919), or to the latter's glocal" Tokyo origin (1884 and 1877, respectively). Hence, if a member of the gold" DPG congratulates his Japanese friends to the jubilee of their Society, the age difference is actually not that big. In any case, let me wish you cordially: gHappy Birthday !"

The occasion invites to look back to the relations between the physicists of both our countries, relations that have started early after the Meiji Restoration, when Germany was selected besides France as the country, where Japanese students should learn westernphysics. Well-known scholars were educated there, such as Hantaro Nagaoka|who came in 1893 to Berlin, Munich and Vienna (taking courses of Ludwig Boltzmann and Hermann von Helmholtz and working in the laboratory of August Kundt),|Kotaro Honda|who performed research in Gttingen (under Georg Tammann) and Berlin fifteen years later, or Jun Ishiwara|who grew into research on relativityand quantum theories under the guidance of Albert Einstein (Zurich) and Arnold Sommerfeld (Munich) before World War I. After that war, which separated the two nations on different sides, the scientific connections became reestablished slowly: Einstein visited Japan in 1922 and gave lectures (guided by Ishiwara), Sommerfeld and his students Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli relied on spectroscopical work of Nagaoka and Toshio Takamine.

The great successes of the German theoretical physicists in the twenties then attracted a number of talent-ed Japanaes research fellows to German universities, notably after Sommerfeld and Heisenberg had paid visits to Japan (in 1928 and 1929, respectively).  Especially Heisenberg's Leipzig Institute became a Mecca for Japanese visitors, from Seishi Kikuchi and Yoshio Fujioka (1929-30) to Sin-itiro Tomonaga and Satoshi Watanabe (1937-39). In these years of most active exchange it was Hideki Yukawa in Kyoto and Osaka, who developed from Heisenberg's idea of nuclear exchange forces his revolutionary meson theory|by the way, presenting his results of course before the Physico-Mathematical Society. When Yukawa visited Leipzig in summer of 1939, he did not meet Heisenbergbefore he had to leave (taking along Tomonaga) Germany because of the outbreak of the European war. But the relations in physics|whether about meson or S-matrix theory|were continued also during World War II, if necessary by submarines. After the war, Heisenberg's Max-Planck-Institute in Gttingen and Munich again became a place of accumulation of very gifted young Japanese research fellows, such as Kazuhiko Nishijima. When I entered the institute in the early sixties, friendship started with Kazuo Yamazaki and Hiroshi Yamamoto, followed by many others in the later sixties and seventies, of whom I mention Susumu Kamefuchi, Michiji Konuma, Jisuke Kubo and Seitaro Nakamura. These guests deepened the impression about the high level of physics education and research in post-war Japan, which I had derived previously from reading the issues of Progress of Theoretical Physics. Several authors publishing in this important journal of the Physical Society of Japan, who have paved our understanding of elementary particle physics, I met later in Europe, America and finally Japan.

Let me stop here with the historical reminiscences|which are becoming too personal|and wish the celebrating (and celebrated) Society many further great fifty-years cycles, as lively and successful as the first just completed one. May this bright future lead to new personal exchanges between Japanese and German physicists paralleling those in the glorious past 110 and more years.