公益社団法人有機合成化学協会 SSOCJ - The Society of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan

豊かな明日を創る有機合成

巻頭言

On Creativity of the Japanese
山本 明夫


 The Japanese are latecomers in science and technology. When Japan opened her ports in 1853 to the outside world after her self-seclusion for two centuries and a half, the country was astounded to realize the level to which science and engineering had progressed in the western world through the industrial revolution while Japan was left far behind. Thus started the strenuous efforts of the Japanese to catch up with the western world in every aspect of life. The governments in the 19th century spent so much money in establishing schools and universities, inviting scientists and engineers from western countries, paying extraordinarily high salaries, and sending out good students abroad to let them learn western culture and bring back the essence. This learning process was repeated in a somewhat different style after the end of the World War II when Japan again realized the enormous difference that still existed between the western level and that of Japan.

 The Japanese have been good learners. At least in manufacturing high-tech products, Japan has accomplished quite a high level of expertise to the extent that they are sometimes blamed for flooding the western markets with products made in Japan. They have been able to catch up with the western level in scientific areas as well. As far as the number of papers produced per capita in Japan in organic chemistry is concerned, it is comparable with that of the U.S.

 However, we sometimes discuss among ourselves whether we have produced really outstanding scientists as exemplified by Nobel Prize winners. There is only one Nobel laureate in chemistry in Japan. Do we need still more time to produce superstars in the world of science? Or is this possibly because of the lack of creativity among the Japanese people? Is there something wrong with the educational or research system in Japan to hinder producing really talented younger people full of creative ideas? Now being among the front-runners in the competition for excellence in science, we cannot follow the tail of the fore-runners to decide our direction. We must produce genuine original results ourselves to contribute to the progress of science. But, we sometimes swing between lack of confidence and overconfidence.

 The older generations are not quite free from their experiences of the past when they had to learn from western models. Younger generations should be less preoccupied. We have to place our hope for the future on these younger generations whose work is presented in the present issue of the Journal of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Japan.

 Are they creative enough to compete in the world arena of organic chemistry?

 Hope your answer is positive.


(1996年8月12日受理)
ページ更新日
2012年4月20日