A message from the President of the Society

The President of the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science (2010-2011) : Hitoshi Ishida

The President of the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science : Hitoshi Ishida

It is a great pleasure for me to be appointed as the president of the Japan Society of Nutrition and Food Science following the previous president Kazumi Yagasaki.

Since its inception more than 60 years ago, the society has promoted the dissemination and application of academic information concerning nutrition and food science. At the same time, we have exchanged information with experts of other academic areas and tried to disclose the information. With our mission to further develop the field of nutrition and food science, and to contribute to public health issues, I believe that our activities have been open to the society and beneficial to the public.

As a medical doctor in the field of internal medicine, I have noticed a drastic increase in the number of patients suffering from “life-style related diseases” such as diabetes. When I was a medic after graduating from Kyoto University School of Medicine around 30 years ago, it was estimated that there were between 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 diabetics in Japan at most, while the statistics from last year show there are approximately 8,900,000 diabetics. If 13,200,000 people of pre-diabetic stage are to be included, the total number jumps up to more than 22,100,000, which means one sixth of the population of Japan are candidates for treatment or preventive measures. The important thing is that obviously the change in the Japanese diet has played a critical role in this increase. The Japanese people’s diet is different from that of Western people in that cereals, vegetables, fruits and seafood have been our main diet. This is a reflection of our agriculture centered ethnic background. The traditional Japanese diet was ideally suited to our physical constitution, and as a result, our body saved the insulin secretion from the pancreatic β-cell thereby preventing obesity that could be a cause of the insulin resistance.

Accompanying the westernization of the Japanese diet has been a lack of exercise among the Japanese population due to the development of the transportation system that has led to increased obesity and a rapid increase in the number of the diabetics in recent years. The Japanese people genetically have weak pancreatic β-cell, and the increase in the insulin resistance accompanied by slight obesity could be a cause of diabetes. This fact reversely shows that many people can avoid getting diabetes if the insulin sensitivity recovers even a little, by improving their diet. Therefore, it is obvious that one of the tasks for the people working in the field of nutrition and food science is to rapidly confirm the clinical evidence concerning the prevention of illness based on nutritional guidance and improvement of diet. Needless to say, it is required for us to determine the food and ingredients that should prevent or stop the progression of the life-style related diseases.

It is all right to say that the situation in Japan is shifting drastically from the “nutrition and food science for shortage” to the “nutrition and food science for plenitude.” If you turn your eyes to the world, however, people are still dying from malnutrition mainly because of economic reasons. It is important that we promote further academic exchanges to enable sustainable development of the whole of human civilization. It is expected that many researches will be done to conduce toward resolving the problems such as food shortage and energy issues as well as global environmental issues.

In order to help solve these problems, the researchers from different academic areas belonging to our society are steadily exchanging information and promoting research cooperation. These academic fields include medicine, agriculture, pharmacology, life science, health science, general science, and engineering. In order for our society to fulfill the social responsibilities mentioned above, as well as to achieve further development of the society, there are several tasks we need to tackle for the short term and medium term. I would like to introduce some of them here.

The first task is related not only to our society, but also to all the academic societies in Japan. Based on the Public Interest Corporation laws and regulations which were enacted on December 1, 2008, the academic societies are required to adopt the new system by the end of November 2013. At present, the working group for the new corporation under the Board of Committee is working on the new constitution of the society, organizational changes, and application for the new corporation based on the experts’ opinions.

On July 22, Ms. Ren Ho, a Minister of State for Government Revitalization, stated on the Ministry’s website, “I hope that many corporation will challenge to get public benefit corporation.” The budget screening process, according to Ms. Ren Ho, will on one hand be very strict on corporations that are accepting subsidies and former high-level bureaucrats, while on the other hand will encourage the private sector to promote public interest, which is one of the tasks expected to the public benefit corporation. We have been promoting the unification of accounting system of the branches and the accounting of the official magazines of our society since 2008. This is one example of strengthening the governance for smooth transition. Transformation to the new corporation is now one of the major tasks we are facing.

There is one other announcement that I would like to make concerning the international activities of the society: the 12th Asian Congress of Nutrition (12th ACN) was chosen to be held in Japan in 2015. This decision was made at the Federation of Asian Nutrition Societies in October 2009. ACN will be held at the Pacifico Yokohama in mid May. In relation to this, we have been organizing English symposia together with foreign speakers for the past few years and plan to organize similar symposia periodically. We consider these kinds of international activities are beneficial to the public interest and would like to further promote such activities.

As for the exchange with other nutrition related societies in Japan, we plan to organize activities beneficial to the public, such as open symposia, by further deepening the relationship. Our wish is to manage the society smoothly with the collaboration of many related academic societies. Considering the economic situation these days, however, the situation surrounding our academic society is somewhat unpredictable. I, therefore, strongly brace myself for pursuing my duties as president.

Your support and cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

Messages from Past Presidents