Re: A news item and subject which I just want to check out (110) October 20, 2023

 It is late October, but it is an incomplete time when we can’t get out of the summer, rather than regular autumn. I hear that snow has piled up in Hokkaido, but in Kinki I can still feel the remains of summer during the day. Anyway, ancient Japan atmosphere and emotions that were in lyrics of children’s songs which I sang when I was young, such as “in the late autumn night♪” and “very quiet autumn of a village♪”, are no longer distant things, due to climate change and urbanization.

By the way, autumn is about autumn leaves. The beauty of autumn leaves, that I saw when I drove through New England located in north of New York, is still vivid in my memory. Maple is the center of autumn leaves and becomes a splendid golden yellow. Incidentally, a nickname for New York City is “The Big Apple”. As the name suggests, New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the United States, and picking apples in the days of autumn leaves is my nostalgic memory.

And autumn is the season of moon viewing. “The thirteenth night” of the year is October 27, which is September 13 on the lunar calendar, following “the fifteenth night” on September 29 which is August 15 on the lunar calendar. It is said that the thirteenth night is a beautiful moon next to the fifteenth night. In the Kinki district the fifteenth night of the year was blessed with good weather and exactly “the harvest moon”. Let’s have sake for moon viewing parties, expecting that the thirteenth night will be clear.
By the way, at Osaka Expo in 1970 “moon rock” brought back from the moon in the previous year was a hot topic, and there was a long line-up every day. The theme of the Osaka-Kansai Expo in 2025 is “designing future society for our lives” and I want a main feature that attracts children and women.

In relation to the “moon rock”, when I saw humans landing on the moon for the first time and the earth in space on a TV screen when I was 27, I expected that this would change the world view of humanity and there would be no more boring conflicts on this tiny earth. But this ended in an illusion. Conflict over race, religion and territory is not still resolved. It is rather intensifying, and various wars and conflicts are occurring around the world. Unfortunately, isn’t it true that “as long as humans are human and as long as living creatures are living, conflict will not go away”? Historically speaking, fanatic persons such as Hitler or Putin just recently appear occasionally. In some cases, Xi Jinping could be one of them. For that reason alone, it is essential to be prepared for the situation that could undermine peace and existence of the nation.

And it is an extremely delicate situation between Israel and Hamas and full-scale combat is about to begin. Right after a terror attack by Hamas, the United States has made its support for Israel clear. That is how powerful influence Israeli and Jewish personnel relationships have on politics and economy in the United States. The “Israel Lobby” is one of the strongest lobby organizations in the political world of the United States. It is no surprise that President Biden went there even though he has a risk, if he is conscious of domestic public opinion and presidential election in November next year.
When I lived in the United States around 1980, children’s school was also closed in Jewish holidays. And in the United States, we can’t talk about politics, economy and society without mentioning the five major Jewish financial groups, the Rockefellers, Morgan, Mellon, Du Pont, and Carnegie. There are also a lot of Jewish investors on the Wall Street, the world biggest financial town. And universities in the United States are heavily relying on donations from alumni to fund their operations rather than government subsidies, and there is a growing movement to not donate to schools that don’t clearly deny “anti-Semitism”.

And I wonder if Russia incited Hamas and this conflict is so grateful for Russia that is struggling in Ukraine. Due to the influence of this conflict, foreign military aid by The United States will be divided. On top of that, global interest in Ukraine is rapidly declining. It is said that American’s attention shifted to Israel and the number of Ukraine-themed news and commentary articles in three major newspapers in the United States, New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, was halved. Japan is tantamount to powerlessness against such international affairs and it is just irritated, but I don’t want Muneo Suzuki to tell us “I told you so, you see that?”, from the justice perspective that “aggression is not allowed”.

■■Things that have recently caught my attention: Declining Japan’s research capabilities:
The Nobel Prize in three natural sciences was announced and unfortunately there were no Japanese winners continuing from last year. 20 Japanese people including Yoichiro Nambu who has U.S. citizenship had won since 2000 and it had been the rush to receive medals. In particular, since four people including Mr. Nambu received the award in 2008, it has never been the case that Japanese people did not win for two consecutive years.
And what bothers me is the decline in Japan’s research capabilities. According to “Japanese Science and Technology Indicators 2023” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan ranks 13th, the lowest ranking ever, lower than Korea and Iran, in the country-wise ranking of the number of important papers that are cited in the top 10 % of all papers. The first place is China and the second is the United States. I hear that reduction in subsidies of operating expenses is causing instability in the status of researchers and increased miscellaneous duties for research application.
Improvement of “advanced technology development capabilities” ahead of other countries is an urgent issue for Japan having no resources. To do that, the increase of research expenses is necessary. In light of such situation, the Japanese government established a university fund worth 10 trillion yen in March last year, in order to create the top universities in the world. Long-term and stable investment in future research infrastructure by making use of investment profit is the main purpose. The first year of operation resulted in a deficit of 60.4 billion yen, minus 0.6 % operational performance, and it was a tough start, even though, of course, we have to look at it in the long run, rather than being short-sighted. The government is eagerly promoting investments to strong cash-oriented citizens by saying that “from savings to investment”, but it is true that investment involves risk.
And as an “International Research University of Excellence” eligible for support, Tohoku University was chosen as the first from among 10 universities that applied. It seems that the study and the strategy of organizational reform were evaluated in general. I would like to expect future results without fail.
By the way, I had an opportunity to listen to the lecture by Mr. Akira Yoshino, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, yesterday. The title was “the future society broke up by lithium-ion batteries”. I was so impressed with his sincere and diligent attitude towards research.

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