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Message from the president

Multipolarity in Globalization

Toyohiko Yatagai
Center for Optical Research & Education,
Utsunomiya University

Toyohiko Yatagai

The waves of globalization urge drastic transformations to politics, economy and even to our culture. All sorts of information rush around on a global scale, and greatly affect our daily life. As often said, the American culture may soon swallow all the various cultures of the world. Standardization and homogenization advance and it seems as if one huge culture without any character is formed in the world. Certainly, the American culture is attractive and it attracts the excellent brains of the world, and the business chances are abundant.

Science and technology should, in essence, be global. It is most obvious that the talents of the world gather to the American universities, which have the highest levels of the world.

Although, it seems as if the monopole concentration to the United States is progressing, the fact is more complicated. Software development cannot be talked about without the existence of India; the manufacturing dependency on China is ever increasing. To connect these facts with such keywords as "mass-produced at low price" is too much of a simplification. According to the indication by Mamoru Aoki, a cultural anthropologist, "globalization prompts multipolarity without a center." He says that it is more important that the multiple poles should mutually resonate to create new waves.

On the second thought, how is the world of "Optics?" When we look at the increases in the number of international conventions held, number of participants to such conventions, and computerized academic information, the waves of globalization sure are rushing to this academic field. However, the number of manuscripts from foreign nationals to our international journal, participants from foreign countries to our domestic conventions, and society members from foreign countries; none of these show large advances of globalization to the "optics society" of our country.

As the monopole concentration towards the United States advanced due to its cultural attractions, the globalization of optics society needs attractions of "optics culture" which is unique to our own country. Furthermore, a unique "culture" is necessary in order to stand as one pole of the multipolarity.

At one time in the optics society, there was the German culture and the French culture; there was the English style and the Italian style. Russia had a clear character. One could imagine the author's nationality or his research country by reading an academic publication. There were several giants, who represented the "culture" of his or her country. It is ironic that the globalization seems to have advanced when these giants have ceased to exist.

Now, in the multipolarity in globalization, what should be done for our country to trigger a new wave? For that, steady activities, such as, establishment of research topics that are unique to our own country, establishment of an attractive optics community, and training of researchers and engineers with high research skills, should be necessary.

I am given an opportunity to serve as the president of the Optical Society of Japan. In the waves of globalization, I would like to think about what actions are necessary, for Optical Society of Japan to stand as one pole of the multipolarity and avoid being dragged into the waves. What actions are necessary for the Optical Society of Japan to not stay as a local society and to contribute to the international community? I would like to make some proposals:

(1) Drastic overhaul of the events by the Optical Society of Japan.
(2) Consider internationalization of Optics & Photonics Japan and Optical Symposium.
(3) Actions to increase members of foreign nationals.
(4) Actions to increase Optical Review manuscript submissions from foreign countries.
(5) Collaborations with the overseas academia (especially, Asian countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore).
And so on. It is probably necessary to strengthen further the activities in the past.

Additionally, it may be necessary to revise domestic academic society system. It is often pointed out, by looking at the Japanese optics society from the foreign countries, that academic society system of our country is not well understood. The Optical Society of Japan, the Laser Society, the Spectroscopical Society, and so on; it is in the state of multipolarity of small academic societies. Here, again, the multipolar cooperation is necessary.

And what is needed most, we would like to be such Optical Society of Japan, which can transmit "Japanese culture" through research outcome with high quality.

The academia is also receiving the waves of globalization. The immediate urgent actions are requested of the Optical Society of Japan. With your cooperation, I would like to make the Optical Society of Japan with uniqueness.

(2008 April inauguration)