I am now staying in Okinawa.
It is real summer time.
In the early morning, temperature is already around 30°C.
The color of sea and sky is real summer time.
I always explained Okinawa is a subtropical island, but should change to say that it becomes sometime real tropical during summer.
I have changed the photo of this blog. It is the Hyakumanben corner which can be seen from the window of my office in the lab. Hyakumanben means million times. The pray of that number will save us, that is the doctrine of the temple nearby. If you click the photo, you get enlargement of photo showing the busy traffics of the corner. Many things have changed around the corner last 10 years.
While my intention to work in Okinawa is to make an effort toward the possibility of doing a world class research within five years from the zero level without the use of my previous research resource accumulated in Kyoto University, it did not seem to be understood at all by younger Japanese professors. I felt that I was considered to be the luckiest or greedy boss to have the two labs in Kyoto and Okinawa by influential younger generation researchers in Japan. Therefore this professor K in Tokyo X University called me like a criminal to apply for the research fund for JSPS to continue on chromosome condensation and segregation. He even took a mission to reject my grant application on condensin as the head of the JSPS committee by asking many amazingly ignorant questions.
I feel very sad and also angry. As my effort in Okinawa was considered by such a distorted view.
To be honest, who else in Japan could do the level of our work accomplished in Okinawa?
I wish at least a few Japanese later sometime will take a look at me as a patriotic researcher.
The fund for the research in Okinawa comes from the Cabinet Office of Japan then to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Promotion Corporation. The fund is not a competitive one， a part of the operating expense of the OIST PC.
The main task of lab head is to ignite the motivation of and encourage lab people. This must be true everywhere. In Okinawa, we had no neighbor campus, nothing. The IRP institute had three groups working on rather distant projects (other EM lab is located near Tokyo). We thus did not expect daily stimulus that can be easily obtained in the big university campus. Our lab started by two post-docs and two technicians and later its size increased twice or three times. One graduate student joined us from the Nara Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. He received PhD last year. The resarch project should be understood by technicians, and even liked by them. My belief is that this point is most important for the success of lab.
Several years later, I saw the posters of our lab explaining the research contents to visiting citizens, which were made by our lab people and fantastically beautiful and readable for everybody. I was so pleased to see these posters, as they showed some striking accomplishment in our lab. I also asked technicians to work from 9 to 5 and no longer.
Post-docs must work for their future, but technicians usually have different idea for their life. Therefore, it is essential for me to motivate the technicians for their own life, and motivated people do excellent work.
When our lab in Okinawa was initiated, I thought that my mission was to prove that initiating and conducting a so called world class research was possible in Okinawa. I thought that it was a real challenge. For realizing this, I decided to make such research plan starting from the zero level, not based on my research on chromosome segregation conducted in Kyoto University. Hence I proposed to identify and characterize the genes required for maintaining the non-dividing G0 (gzero) cells, as a model of post-mitotic cells such as muscle cells and neurons. I am greatly indebted to the tremendous courage of the OIST selection committed to chose our very adventurous project.
After six years in Okinawa, I am proud to say that the greater part of the initial proposal has been accomplished and am confident that we now know how to make a road toward the world class research in Okinawa. Young motivated researchers will be inevitably born with the success of research projects, I believe.
I have a lab in Okinawa, an island 2 hr flight from the Kansai Airport.
When my retirement from Kyoto University was imminent, I wished to continue research and looked for the possible places for a new job.
I attempted to work in Cambridge UK. There was indeed an excellent chance for me to move to UK. I visited Department of G and gave a lecture and Professor D offered me a possible lab space. I was much motivated to move and looked for a research fund to make the move possible. There was one ideal international fund from the JST and I submitted an application to the JST. I heard about that there was only would be accepted per year. Unfortunately my proposal failed. I was very much disappointed and my lifelong dream to have a lab in UK vanished. I heard later that Professor X of the University of Tokyo got that. The second possibility was in New York. I was not too serious because the place was a medical institution and my research is rather remote from any medical usefulness. But the chairman of department Dr Z offered me a chance to give a talk there. It did not work again. They did not want me there. The third one was the open competition for the JST fund for the Initial Research Project for the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. Luckily I got one of the four slots just one year from the retirement of Kyoto University. I was pleased as I could surely continue to be in the front of research.
The entry today is short.
Last year autumn I had chance to have dinner with my collaborators in Tokyo-area XX University. One professor who happened to join this diner. During this gathering, this professor started to accuse me that I would be like a criminal if I would apply the research grant of MEXT / JSPS because I had already sufficient research grant. I was shocked to be called as a criminal (perhaps the biggest insult in my career) but explained to him that was real misunderstanding. He did not agree.
Several months later I was appalled to discover that the same professor was the chairperson for the JSPS committee to my third failed attempt for getting a research grant to maintain the Kyoto Univ lab last March. He was a main interrogator in the course of the hearing session at that time in the JSPS building. I could not believe that this kind of thing would happen in my country.
I shall close my lab at Kyoto University next year March as I failed to get the research fund to maintain it after April 2011.
I tried applications three times from last to this year, but all failed.
The closure of Kyoto lab is quite painful for me as I will have real difficulty to continue research on chromosome and also to my people as they lose the working place, but such thing could happen to everybody these days everywhere.
The early part of 21st century will be remembered as the discrimination to the age is still very strong with the exception of USA. It is a really new era when many people live even after 90 and uncertain when is the appropriate biological retirement age for many businesses. USA seemed to remove the restriction on retirement age in research institutions, but Europe and UK still keep 65 yr old for the upper limit. In Japan, the limitation is stronger.
I am 69 year old. I feel intellectually and physical still strong but many others in Japan think that I should simply stop working and give my job to somebody else. The failure of my attempt to apply research funds indicates that I must go away. It is sad but no other way to obey this outcome. It is true that only foreign researchers working on chromosome still invite me to the meetings but in Japan I am considered to be completely finished person so that my colleagues several years ago stop asking me anything about my research still going on. This is what we called Ubasute (the practice of disposing of old people by abandonment) in ancient Japan when famine prevailed.
Today I attended the ceremony of convocation for the Royal Society. It is a truly interesting event. I first time saw the Queen of UK. She was very elegant and impressive.
I sang the National Hymn of Great Britain God save the queen in front of her.
She stood but of course did not sing. Her husband seriously sang the song.
There were five big paintaings including Darwin, Boyle, Newton on the stage, which stared at us.
I was thinking who were those people if we have the organization like this in Japan.
For UK, the pride of nation resides on science. In this sense, the Queen made an inspection of science troops.
I am traveling in Europe from Heidelberg to Edinburgh and London. 13 days trip.
I have not come to this english blog for a long time.Surprisingly I found that it has everyday a certain number of visitors.
I am now attending the 8th EMBO workshop on aneuploidy and chromosome segregation at the Royal College of Surgeon of University of Edinburgh, which has a nice symposium room and also rooms for posters.
I know many of the attendants but do not know many young people.
It is a joyful meeting as so many new things come up with these ~200 people.
At the same time, it is a bit melancholic occasion for me, as I shall have to close the laboratory of Kyoto University next year March.
In my Japanese blog, I explained why and how for the closure.
But some friends who cannot read the Japanese blog ask me why and how I shall do after that.
It is difficult to explain the reason in a 10 second response.
Therefore I shall come occasionally here and may write up what have happened and what I would like to do then. If somebody will ask me in future, I shall be able to say that please go to my English blog.