Prof. Keiichi Hori,
-The president of the Japan Explosives Society.
Distinguished members of the Japan Explosives Society, it is my privilege to serve as the president again this term.
Two years ago, the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun, and it was truly impossible to see how events might play out. The Society’s activities were all effectively shifted to remote operations, and for the last two years, I have hardly been able to meet with any of our members in person. International symposium, research presentations, and committees and working groups have all been facilitated online, and the societies’ operations have become inorganic and pared down to the bare minimum necessary.
COVID-19 is often compared to the Spanish influenza pandemic of 100 years ago. Many people around the world died during that pandemic, but it abated after three years. When COVID-19 had just started, we imagined that it should not take three years to bring it under control given medical advancements. However, this was an overly optimistic view. The vaccines that were expected to change the game did not deliver a final blow and have been ineffective against new variants. In the current situation, we seem simply to be relying on a general theory about mutations in which each mutation becomes more infectious but less toxic.
The world is already moving ‘with COVID’, and Japan seems set to follow suit. The Society must also move generally towards relaxing its restrictions moving forward, although there will doubtless be ups and downs.
However, the adoption of remote methods is by no means a bad thing. Until now, the members of the Society’s main committees have all been residents of the Kanto area. The ability to participate remotely encourages participation by members living in regional areas, and this leads to a diversification of the Society’s administration. In addition, since society members who were often away on business are now more likely to be working at home, it has become easier to hold meetings, and the participation rate of members at our meetings has increased. Possibly because of this, we have seen a progressive increase in activity in technical committees, which I have been requesting since the year before last. The establishment of two of these, the Computational Chemistry and SDGs working groups, has been a pleasant surprise.
The Computational Chemistry Working Group provides a valuable opportunity for veteran researchers in the use of various computation tools developed in recent years to pass on the knowledge to the younger generation. I earnestly hope that young researchers will dramatically improve the quality of their study as these tools help with their understanding of experimental results, enhancing their contribution to our society.
The SDGs are issues that the whole world must address together. Every organisation is already making progress on these goals to different degrees. I think that the significance of the activities of the Society’s SDGs Working Group lies in exploring and proposing ways that researchers studying energetic materials can contribute broadly to the SDG activities already being promoted by companies in the industry. It would be wonderful if this activity were to result in new forms of industry–academia collaboration. I have strong expectations for starting with effective, low-burden activities that will not be dismissed as ‘SDG-washing’.
The Society is now working to expand into other regions and rejuvenate them. In the COVID-19 pandemic, the Society was more or less on hiatus. However, with your capabilities and energy, let us work together to transform it into something new. Naturally, the cooperation of all our members is essential in this undertaking. I look forward to working with all of you to achieve this goal.