The Chemical Society of Japan in the International Year of Chemistry


  • Nobuyuki Kawashima

The Chemical Society of Japan (CSJ), which has about 31,000 members, was founded in 1878 and is one of the oldest learned societies in Japan. Its activities cover a wide spectrum, numbering about 100 committees or subcommittees covering various topics. The society has seven branches, dividing the country into seven areas. The society has five Divisions and 21 e-Divisions which cover different fields of chemistry.

CSJ’s academic meetings consist of the annual meeting conducted by the head office

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and regional meetings by branches and Division Meetings. The annual meeting generally attracts more than 6,000 papers and 8,000 participants. For academia–industry exchange we established the Advanced Technology Program at the annual meeting, where the most recent achievements in industry can be presented.

Science is borderless. CSJ, together with the American Chemical Society and the Canadian Society for Chemistry as founding Societies, and four other Societies the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, the Korean Chemical Society, and the Chinese Chemical Society, host the International Chemical Congress of Pacific Basin Societies (Pacifichem) every five years in Hawaii. At the latest one in 2010, 12,500 people participated from almost 70 countries around the world. In addition, we have conducted bilateral cooperation, such as symposia with many foreign societies.

Yet another measure for information exchange is in publications. CSJ publishes the membership journal Chemistry and Chemical Industry to disseminate current information in chemistry to its members. Also, periodicals have permitted scientific findings to be published worldwide. Journals that CSJ possess totally or partially are The Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Japan (BCSJ), Chemistry Letters, The Chemical Record (TCR), and Chemistry–An Asian Journal (CAJ), all of which are internationally recognized English-language journals. We are proud of the quality of the original papers and reviews in BCSJ with its long history since 1926. Chemistry Letters, founded in 1972, is prominent for rapid publication; the average time from submission to online publication was 60 days in 2010. TCR was established in 2001 and originally co-owned by eight chemistry societies in Japan. It was renewed as CSJ journal in 2011.

CSJ contemplated for many years the establishment of an “Asian journal”, and this led to the launch of CAJ. On launching it in 2005, CSJ played a key role between the partner societies and Wiley-VCH. Japanese chemists have been the biggest contributors to published papers ever since. The most recent Editorial Meeting was held in Hawaii at the Pacifichem 2010 Congress in December last year.

It is essential that people appreciate the role of chemistry in society. Without such recognition, we cannot secure the necessary human resources for future chemistry. CSJ renders its efforts to help citizens and high school students get in touch with the most recent achievements in chemistry by holding open symposia for the public during the annual meetings as well as innovation symposia at various locations in Japan.

CSJ is one of five organizing societies (CSJ, ACS, RSC, GDCh, CCS) of the Chemical Sciences and Society Summit (CS3), which brings together the best minds in chemical research from around the world and challenges them to propose innovative solutions to society′s most pressing needs in the areas of health, food, energy, and the environment. The second summit was held in London in September 2010 on the topic of “Sustainable Materials”.

Chemists have to be responsible for developing human resources in chemistry for now and for the future. CSJ includes an Educational section chaired by a vice president. The section undertakes development of teaching materials and tools, investigation of chemistry education curricula at schools, and proposals to the education system. CSJ also publishes its own membership journal, Chemistry and Education. CSJ took the key role in inviting and hosting the 42nd International Chemistry Olympiad 2010 in Tokyo. Every year, CSJ in cooperation with the Japan Chemical Industry Association and two other organizations, carries out an event called “Children′s Chemical Experiment Show” (Figure 1), where chemists and chemical engineers demonstrate chemical treatment in front of children. The number of participants every year is almost 10,000 over two days.

Figure 1.

Top) Experiment show. Bottom) Experiments by children.

The year 2011 is the International Year of Chemistry approved in the general assembly of the United Nations.


  • Increase the public appreciation and understanding of chemistry in meeting world needs
  • Encourage the interest of young people in chemistry
  • Generate enthusiasm for the creative future of chemistry
  • Celebrate the role of women in chemistry and major historical events in chemistry, including the centenaries of Mme. Curie′s Nobel Prize and the founding of the International Association of Chemical Societies

While CSJ activities explained above cover all four goals set for the International Year of Chemistry, we planned special events on the occasion of the IYC, some independently and others in cooperation with other countries:

  • 1)IYC Pre-launch Reception

The ACS and CSJ proposed an IYC pre-launch reception on December 17, the third day of Pacifichem 2010, and more than 2000 participants cerebrated the world-wide event starting in the coming year.

  • 2)IYC 2011 International Launching Ceremony

A launching ceremony for the International Year of Chemistry was held in Paris on January 27 and 28, at the UNESCO HQ, under the aegis of the UN, UNESCO, and IUPAC. There were more than 1000 participants, and among them CSJ representatives participated on behalf of the Japanese chemistry community together with Prof. Kazuyuki Tatsumi / Vice President of IUPAC, Representatives from the Japan Chemical Industry Association, and Asahi Chemicals. We cerebrated the launching of IYC 2011 (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

Top) IYC Launching Ceremony held on January 27–28, Paris. Bottom) Many VIPs from all over the world gathered (shown here, from left to right: Ting-Kueh Soon, Nancy B. Jackson, Nobuyuki Kawashima, Supawan Tantayanon, Zuriati Zakaria).

  • 3)The Tea Party—IYC International Women′s Networking Event in Japan

In accordance with the IYC International Women′s Networking Event, the Gender Equality Committee of CSJ celebrated together on January 18, holding the Tea Party at CSJ office, the Chemistry Hall in Tokyo (Figure 3). The key aim was to discuss the promotion and networking of young and women chemists with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie′s Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Figure 3.

We celebrated IYC 2011, at the Tea Party held January 18.

  • 4)“Your Magic—It′s Chemistry” Exhibition

What would be the most effective way to attract very young people, who have not learned about atoms and molecules at school, to chemistry? A number of local governments in Japan have constructed and maintain science museums to let young people enjoy science. However, there are few standing displays on chemical principles in those museums, maybe because chemical processes are not easy to display. On the occasion of the International Year of Chemistry in 2011, The Chemical Society of Japan, in cooperation with the National Museum on Emerging Science and Innovation (Kagaku-Miraikan) and the Japan Chemical Industry Association, plan to hold an exhibition in which materials with unique properties have been effectively presented and let visitors feel surprise, wonder, and joy at the displays. The exhibition is planned to be held this year at the Kagaku-Miraikan in Tokyo.

  • 5)IYC Symposium

A symposium entitled “What would be the conditions for chemistry to lead the next generation?” was to be held to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry during the annual meeting of CSJ in March 2011. Keynote lectures were scheduled to be delivered by Professor Ryoji Noyori, President of RIKEN, Nobel laureate in 2001, and Dr. Yoshimitsu Kobayashi, President of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, followed by a panel discussion by the keynote lecturers and some commentators of CSJ.

The Tohoku region was hit by a great earthquake and tsunami on March 11. We have been touched and encouraged by receiving many condolences and show of support from many parts of the world. In fact because of the calamity, we are considering to reschedule some events including IYC Symposium and the “Your Magic—It′s Chemistry” Exhibition described above. We, however, have returned to the normal life as it had been except for the seriously damaged areas in Tohoku. We are confident we will overcome this hardship and step forward to build a sustainable society in cooperation with world organizations as well as Asian nations for the future.

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Nobuyuki Kawashima

Executive Director

The Chemical Society of Japan