JSPS awards for eminent scientists

Report on the JSPS Award for Eminent Scientists

  1. Invited eminent scientist (name, title and affiliation, nationality)
  2. Name: Takashi Asano
    Title and Affiliation: Professor Emeritus, University of California at Davis, USA

  3. Duration of the stay
  4. Sep.20. 2006 - Dec.11. 2006

  5. Hosting environment (accommodation, research institute, status in the host institute)
  6. Accommodation: Le Meridien Pacific Tokyo and others
    Research Institute: Public Works Research Institute (PWRI)
    Status in the host institute: PWRI Fellow

  7. Schedule during the stay (date, research activities, name of the places to visit, and description of the visits )
    • Sep. 20th, 2006
    • Arrived at Narita

    • Sep. 21st, 22nd
    • Held a meeting on schedule
      Made preparations for lectures

    • Sep. 25th, 28th
    • Appointed as a PWRI Fellow
      Delivered a lecture at PWRI, Tsukuba and gave a technical guidance

    • Oct. 2nd
    • Gave a technical guidance at the Japan Sewage Works Association (JSWA)

    • Oct. 3rd to 6th
    • Made preparations for lectures
      Received visits of a writer, journalists, scientists, and government engineers and provided advice

    • Oct. 10th
    • Visited the urban water recycling facilities of the Bureau of Sewerage, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo

    • Oct. 11th
    • Invited to a technical discussion at the Department of Urban Engineering, University of Tokyo, Tokyo

    • Oct. 12th to 16th
    • Made preparations for lectures
      Received visits of a writers, journalists, scientists, and government engineers and provided advice

    • Oct. 17th to 25th
    • Invited to technical discussions and delivered lectures at Hokkaido University, Sapporo and Kitami Institute of Technology, Kitami
      Took a field reconnaissance of the Tokoro river basin

    • Oct. 26th
    • Delivered a lecture and advice to the Water Resource Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Tokyo

    • Oct 27th
    • Delivered a keynote lecture at the PWRI annual public conference, Tokyo

    • Oct. 29th to 31st
    • Invited to a technical discussion at Fukuoka University, Fukuoka

    • Nov. 2nd
    • Held a technical discussion meeting at PWRI, Tsukuba

    • Nov. 6th
    • Received visits of scientists and provided advice

    • Nov. 7th to 9th
    • Delivered a lecture and provided advice at Kochi University of
      Technology, Kouchi
      Took a field reconnaissance of the Monobe river basin

    • Nov. 10th
    • Delivered a lecture and provided advice at the Water Resource Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Tokyo

    • Nov. 11th
    • Invited to a technical discussion meeting with environmental engineers in Nagoya

    • Nov. 12th to 15th
    • Delivered lectures and invited to a technical discussion at the Research Center for Environmental Quality Management and the Katsura campus of Kyoto University, Kyoto

    • Nov. 16th to 19th
    • Participated in the 43rd Environmental Engineering Forum organized by Japan Society of Civil Engineering (JSCE), Hakodate, and invited to a technical discussion meeting at
      Hokkaido University, Sapporo

    • Nov. 20th
    • Delivered a lecture and gave technical advice at a symposium jointly organized by the Japan Dam Engineering Center (JDEC) and the Water Resources Environment Technology Center (WRETC), Tokyo

    • Nov. 21st to 23rd
    • Delivered a lecture and gave technical advice at a technical discussion session at Toyama Prefectural University, Toyama

    • Nov. 24th
    • Made a courtesy call to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), Tokyo

    • Nov. 27th
    • Delivered a lecture with technical guidance at the Japan Water Agency (JWA), Saitama

    • Nov. 29th to 30th
    • Delivered a lecture at a public seminar in Fukushima hosted by Fukushima prefectural government supported by Fukushima University and MLIT
      Took a field reconnaissance of the Abukuma river basin

    • Dec. 4th to 6th
    • Delivered a lecture and provided advice at the Okinawa Land Improvement General
      Bureau of Okinawa General Bureau, and the Water and Sewer Section and Civil
      Engineering and Construction Department of the Okinawa Prefectural Government, Naha

    • Dec. 7th to 8th
    • Provided research advice at PWRI, Tsukuba

    • Dec. 10th
    • Held a discussion on the final report

    • Dec. 11th
    • Departed from Narita


  8. Description of and results from the invitation
  9. Prof. Asano’s accommodation was arranged in Tokyo, for it was convenient for him to visit local universities, research institutes, and administrative agencies which all had invited him for lectures and workshops in advance as well as to meet writers, journalists, and researchers who asked for opportunities to exchange views with the professor.

    Through his lectures and dialogues, fundamental differences in the basic attitude toward water resource between the United States and Japan were revealed; the differences are found in ”approaches toward ensuring high quality water”, “whether there are strategic plans”, “the concept of safety” and “publicity measures”. In the United States, the reuse of municipal wastewater from urban sewer systems is often designated in the formal water plans as a sustainable water resource and one of the options to relieve water shortage in areas constantly suffering the problem, such as in the State of California. In fact, the reuse of municipal wastewater is increasing in spite of some unsolved problems such as the difficulty in forming consensus among citizens and certain health risks due to the exposure to potential toxicants.

    As for safety measures for the water supply in urban cities, for example, Los Angels City has six major water sources such as off-stream storage, groundwater, recycled water, as well as the three surface water sources from northern California, the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River. Then, LA ensures water supply for the LA citizens for six months, which is a necessary period of time to restore aqueducts damaged by an earthquake.

    On the other hand, in Japan, full-scale, open discussions are rarely seen on water safety/quality issues. However, Prof. Asano’s insightful comments and advice encouraged researchers and administrators in Japan to take a closer look at the issues. Through the discussions with the professor, they came to share the common views towards the issues, which can be summed up to the following five points:
    1) Water-related issues hardly attract mass media’s attention in this time of falling population,
    2) The issues have not yet surfaced because Japan has not conducted water quality evaluation thoroughly, assuming that Japan is always plentiful in quality water,
    3) The issues are hardly addressed in strategic plans,
    4) Few experts in the field of water resources are fostered in local universities, although water resources should be recognized one of the most critical local issues, and
    5) Publicity measures are not fully organized.

  10. Contribution by the invitee to the host institute (e.g. inspiration to young scientists, internationalization of a host institute as a whole, etc.)
  11. Prof. Asano inspired students and young scientists through the lectures and discussion meetings. Many of the young audience at the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI), the Kitami Institute of Technology, Kochi University of Technology, or Toyama Prefectural University made very positive comments about the lectures. The followings are examples of the feedbacks:
    - I have learned from Prof. Asano’s lecture that the US citizens, although they live in one of the most developed nation, are fully aware of the water shortage issues their nation faces,
    - After listening Prof. Asano lecturing that water reuse is much cheaper and required lower energy consumption compared to the conventional water transmission, my assumption has been put aside and my vision has been widened,
    - After listening Prof. Asano’s lecture, I was more motivated to do my work because I now have a better understanding of our research activities directly contributing to the water resource issues currently looming, or
    - I would like to be an expert like Prof. Asano, who has been making significant achievements and globally contributing to the field.

    Moreover, the faculty members (professors, associate professors and lecturers) of the visited universities reported that they were greatly impressed by the world’s most advanced water-recycling techniques and the innovative approach Prof. Asano has introduced.

    The Japanese administrators (government authorities) reported that they were deeply impressed by the information shared by Prof. Asano regarding the approaches taken by the US government for water resource issues; the information is useful as a reference for the Japanese government to work on the water resource issues in Japan. The followings are some of the approaches taken by the United States:
    - Reinforcement of the Infrastructure to enhance the safety of urban city water supply
    - Not only risk managements, but also planning water-resource strategies at regular intervals
    - Making efforts to draw social attentions to the necessity of investment for maintaining the social infrastructure
    - Change in the role of the US government from development to management

    The Japanese officials (government administrators) who attended the technical discussion meetings are convinced that information sharing or opinion exchange with the US and EU developed nations will be needed in the future, though most of recent international activities regarding water resource issues have been Asian region-oriented.

    As the hosting organization, PWRI believes that Prof. Asano’s contributions to the Japanese society are very promising and respected. With his advice, our water-resource research activities will be widened and diversified. Many scientists and engineers will be fostered in this research area; at the same time leading researchers will be much more motivated to pursue their research topics.

    Thanks to Prof. Asano, those in top government offices and academia had precious opportunities to hold technical discussions and to directly exchange opinions with the world eminent professor; he surely exerted considerable influence, which would not be obtained from books, on their notions or attitudes toward research and practice.

  12. Others
  13. PWRI thank JSPS for their generous support for this invitation project. Prof. Asano is scheduled to visit Japan again in FY2007 and share his invaluable insights with those in government offices and academia.