Dr. Yutaka Honda, the former Editor-in-Chief of Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences (PCN) from 1995 to 1999 passed away on September 1, 2009 at the age of 79.

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Dr. Honda, circa 1999, courtesy of his son, Dr. Makoto Honda

He was born in 1929 and graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tokyo in 1954 and received his PhD degree from the university in 1959. He served as a lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tokyo during the tumultuous period of the historical student revolt in the early 1970s and its aftermath until the middle of the 1980s, during which activities of the department were seriously hindered. Despite such difficulty, he tirelessly taught and inspired many young psychiatrists, who dared to join the department hoping to normalize the situation; fortunately I was one of them, in clinical and research activities. In 1985, he was appointed as the director of the Seiwa Hospital affiliated with the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, a prestigious private neuropsychiatric institution in Tokyo. Later he assumed the directorship of the institute and was the emeritus director of the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute at the time of his demise. He was an excellent researcher, educator, and clinician in psychiatry and his contributions to psychiatry are enormous as introduced below.

Dr. Honda is well-known world-wide as a leading researcher of sleep disorders, especially narcolepsy. He actively continued research on those topics until recently. He published more than 50 original articles on sleep disorders, the vast majority of which are on narcolepsy, in international journals and numerous articles in Japanese. His latest original work, ‘Absence of ubiquitinated inclusions in hypocretin neurons of patients with narcolepsy. Neurology, 2009; 73(7): 511–517’ was first-authored by his son, Dr. Makoto Honda at the Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry and was published on 18 August 2009. He was a caring clinician and eager for advocacy activity of patients, especially those with narcolepsy. He helped patients with narcolepsy organize the Narco-kai (an association of patients with narcolepsy) in 1967, now the Japan Narcolepsy Association, and has supported its activity since then. He published many Japanese books to promote the understanding of narcolepsy in Japan.

Dr. Honda was enthusiastic about standardizing psychiatric diagnoses in Japan, where no standard psychiatric diagnostic system existed before 1980. He contributed to establishing the Japanese Society for International Psychiatric Diagnostic Criteria in 1981, currently the Japanese Society for Psychiatric Diagnosis, and to introducing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition (DSM-III) of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) into Japan. Also in 1981, he and his colleagues invited Prof. Robert L. Spitzer, the then chairperson of the APA Task Force on Nomenclature and Statistics, to Japan and organized a series of conferences on DSM-III. This had a profound impact on Japanese psychiatrists to adopt DSM-III and it successors and ICD-10 as standard diagnostic systems in Japan.

He served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Japanese Journal of Psychiatry and Neurology, a forerunner of PCN, in 1994 and then of PCN from 1995 to 1999, which became an official journal of the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology in 2008. Thanks to his excellent guidance during his five- year tenure as Editor-in-Chief, PCN gained the status of an international psychiatric journal. And PCN obtained the impact factor of 1.394 in 2008, which is expected to increase further. He also was a founding editorial board member of the Japanese Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, a prestigious Japanese psychiatric journal, first published in 1972.

We will miss a great psychiatrist, but his teachings and works in psychiatry will long live in the minds of professionals who have ever been acquainted with him to encourage them to contribute to the advancement of psychiatry.