2018 New Year's Address

Topics 2018/01/05

Best wishes for the New Year. I would like to express my profound gratitude for your tremendous support in 2017 and offer my sincerest wishes that 2018 is a productive and prosperous year for you.

Looking back on 2017, it was a year in which we published various research findings and made steady progress in preparation for our future endeavors and the reform of KEK. I believe 2018 will mark the first full year of wide-ranging reform due not only to KEK’s changing role as technology advances, but also due to changes in KEK’s environment and Japan as a whole.

Since its inception 47 years ago, KEK has been an inter-university research institute corporation working with university researchers to support and drive innovations in accelerator science. Although privatization in the fiscal year 2004 initiated drastic change, KEK’s philosophy of an “inter-university research” has remained the fundamental raison d’être. We take great pride in leading academic research in various fields in collaboration with universities to contribute to the enhancement and sustainability of Japan’s research. We cannot help but feel a deep respect for the wisdom and effort of our sagacious predecessors who founded KEK with the lofty ideal of inter-university research. While this philosophy retains its momentum to date, what ideal should KEK hold up for the next 50 years?

As the 50th anniversary approaches, we believe it will mark a turning point as KEK must go beyond the wisdom and assets inherited from our predecessors. KEK is part of Japan, which is also undergoing massive change. Scientific research with accelerators led by KEK, along with space development and nuclear fusion studies, are, so to speak, typical big sciences, which are strongly affected by the national financial situation and societal demands. We must admit that the age of the ever-growing economy ended long ago in Japan. In addition, the declining birthrate may further cause our society to dwindle. Moreover, society’s demand for scientific research has been changing greatly; we feel the trend to pursue short-term economic outcomes has accelerated. The way big sciences should work in such an era poses a very important question.

We are assessing KEK’s future direction. What changes are necessary for KEK to maintain its lofty raison d’être, lead academic studies in various fields in tandem with universities, and contribute to enhancing and sustaining research in Japan? Last spring we implemented KEK Future Vision Review Meeting to brainstorm ideas. However, to clarify the future vision of KEK and to realize fundamental reform, we need to increase the awareness of issues facing KEK and solicit deeper discussions with more people.

Large-scale reform causes tremendous stress to both individuals and an organization. Nevertheless, if the repetition of “environmental change + mutation + survival of the fittest” is the evolutionary process of living things, KEK should also reach for the proper way to evolve and use environmental change as an opportunity to leap forward. Thus, 2018 will become the year for KEK to begin reform as it continues making history for the next 50 years. The current difficulties will pass, and KEK will maintain its lofty raison d’être. We see a future where KEK will continue to lead academic research in many fields in cooperation with universities and contribute to enhancing and maintaining Japan’s reputation for outstanding research results. We look forward to your continued support and understanding.

January 5, 2018
Director General of KEK