As we greet the beautiful fresh greenery of our environment, I am sure that there are many in the Molecular Biology Society of Japan (MBSJ) who are hoping for renewal of progress in our field during the coming academic year. Unfortunately, we also face challenges such as the recent powerful earthquake in Kumamoto, with aftershocks still continuing in Kumamoto and Oita. Let us offer our deepest sympathy for those suffering from this devastation.
At such times, it is hard for us to know just what we as an academic society should do. I feel that first, it is important for us to confirm the safety of all our members and help them quickly return to their laboratories and carry on their research. This makes it necessary for us to ensure that they have the support they need, such as provision of temporary sites where they can continue their research and store their lab materials. What we can do, I feel, is offer an opportunity for liaison between those needing such support and the organizations or research facilities which can provide it. With this goal in mind, we have set up a "Recovery Support Bulletin Board," similar to the one used to good results five years ago after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Since many members of the MBSJ have made contributions through their own institution, the MBSJ Board of Directors also approved a donation, small though it may be. Efforts to respond to the more recent disaster may still fall short of what is needed, but I feel that they have been set into action relatively more quickly than the response five years ago. At that time I was a member of the executive committee conducting response efforts, and discussion was directed at identifying how our society should take action. That experience is being put to use again now. I feel it is necessary for the MBSJ to continue to examine how we as an academic society should respond to future disasters.
The executive officers of our society manage the MBSJ, taking into account the opinions of the Board of Directors, and this is the case in dealing with the recent disaster. There were many calls from our directors for a prompt response to the disaster as well as opinions about what should be done. The directors hold a variety of views both regarding our response to the disaster and regarding how the MBSJ itself should be operated. I imagine that is widely felt that the MBSJ is a very free society drawing together people who place little value on empty ceremony. When an academic society grows large and becomes a formally organized structure, however, it also takes on a social responsibility, meaning that we must consider the image that we should present. The Board of Directors is continuing to discuss the future path of our society, and it is already time for election of the next group of directors. The Board of Directors reflects the opinions of the members as a whole, as supported by the considerable insights of the individual directors. I urge all members of our society to take part in electing the new directors, selecting persons who will make contributions not only to the MBSJ but also to Japanese science.
Finally, once again allow me to offer my sincere hopes for an early recovery to all who suffered from the disaster and for the advancement of research.
The Molecular Biology Society of Japan