President’s Message

On the occasion Assuming Office of Chairman for the 56th Term

Shinichi Nakasuka, Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo

My name is Shinichi Nakasuga of the University of Tokyo, and I have been appointed Chairman for the 56th term. I would like to offer a few words of greeting upon assuming office and state my thoughts on the direction in which the Society is headed in the future.

First of all, what is the purpose of societies? Societies are made up of the volunteer activities of many people in academia and industry, where many of whom take up a lot of time to research, and I think we need to consider whether the activities of societies are generating benefits worth what they spend. I believe that the birthplace of a society is a place to exchange and discuss technical information and ideas, and to consider joint research plans, etc. We need to reconsider whether we are providing sufficient opportunities for such activities, and whether there are really things that we can do because of our membership in academic societies. There are many divisional committees, and I think they are candidates for bases for discussion in their respective technical fields. I think it is important to think not only about doing practical work to run the symposium, but also about how to make it “a place where something synergistic happens when academia and companies get together to discuss”. I would also like to consider once again the value of academic journals as a place for such discussions.

Lectures and seminars also need to have some meaning. With the rise of the Internet, we live in an age where it is now easy to see what kind of research people are doing and where by posting them on the web. If necessary, discussion can be held via email-based or online meetings. In this context, let’s reconsider why it takes the effect of many people to organize a lecture and what effect we hope it will have. It is still important to be a training ground for young people and students through making presentations. However, it would be a waste if for many people it is just a place for presentations and Q&A. The important purpose of the face-to-face gathering is to launch research and discuss plans for the next step, and for companies, to exhibit their products and explain them with their hands, leading to business negotiations, etc. In addition, the gathering of industry and academia could be used to create a forum to discuss Japan’s future strategy with government officials. Major symposia around the world are clearly shifting in that direction. After the Corona-19 ended, many of the lectures that have come face to face have held with an explosion of participants, but let’s consider making the lecture even more meaningful.

I recently had the opportunity to discuss this with people in the aviation industry, and what I learned was that it is difficult to attract people to the aviation field, and including such as maintenance personnel, there is a great shortage of human resources. In space, the government budget has expanded rapidly, and startups are now able to receive many government orders, but what is happening is an extreme shortage of human resources. Specialists included electrical and mechanical engineering, data scientists, information and communication technologies like AI, so on, are competing with those in other industrial fields, the era which we must once again emphasize the attractiveness and job satisfaction of aerospace to get people to come in is coming. How can we increase the number of human resources from different industries? How can we develop human resources at universities and other institutions? How can we motivate people to work in the aerospace field and communicate the attractiveness of the aerospace field to society? These are major challenges that Japan’s aerospace industry will face in the future due to the rapid decline in the number of young people. I would like our society to be a forum to address these issues.

Lastly, I’d like to refer to the role of academic societies in the relationship between academia and industry and the government. As you know, the first step in space is the 300 billion yen “Space Strategy Fund” created, it will bring the possibility of a large amount of research and development funds to be invested in industry and academia. Instead of a bottom-up research, which each researcher decides on their own theme based on their own ideas, I believe that we are now in an era which the government will carefully consider the future direction and national strategy of the aerospace field, and concentrate research funds in that direction, as in the case of the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research. I have had many years of experience as the chairperson of many government committees, including the Space Policy Committee, and what I have learned is that research and analysis of the world’s technologies and strategies, the strategic planning function based on research and analysis of the world’s technologies and strategies is fundamental need. However, Japan is very weak in this area, and even if the government tries to do it, it will be difficult in a situation where think tanks have not been developed, so the only way is for the technical community, such as our society, to serve as a knowledge base. This means that the technical community, such as our society, has no choice but to serve as the “bag of wisdom”. In addition to the discussions involving industry, government, and academia at the lecture meetings mentioned above, it may be necessary for the academic societies to contribute to government surveys, analyses, and strategy formulation as needed with their wisdom. It is also essential for the academic society to become a focal point for conveying to the government the collective will and desires of the industrial world.

I have presented various directions of aerospace field in the future, but further refinement and implementation of the plan will require the participation of our members. I would be grateful for your cooperation for the development of the aerospace field. Thank you very much for your cooperation.