Message from the Chairman

Chairman Nobutaka Hirokawa
Kazato Research Foundation

 The progress of science in one country depends on the economic development of the country. At the end of World War II, Japanese science and economy were tremendously devastated. After the war, Japan suffered a serious lag in scientific technologies for biological fields and non-biological fields related to electron microscopy, compared to USA and European countries. At that time, leading companies of electron microscopes existed in those countries, including Philips, Siemens and RCA. A number of the first-generation Japanese electron microscopist went to laboratories in USA and Europe to learn their advanced research methodologies and to feed back valuable techniques related to electron microscopy into Japan. Even in such a severe situation, our predecessors produced world-leading achievements based on their distinction and great efforts.
 Also electron microscopes made in Japan rapidly improved their performance owing to strenuous efforts of related people (companies, researchers, employees, etc.), as well as their devoted service spirit for product maintenance which is one of the pride of Japan. As a result, “Made-in-Japan” electron microscopes were spreading in not only Japan but also USA and Europe and were grown to a level of the international standard. This dramatic progress demonstrates a typical model of the development of Japanese scientific technologies.
 In the middle of 1960s, Japanese electron microscopes reached the world's top level. The 6th ICEM (International Congress for Electron Microscopy) was held in Kyoto, attracting much worldwide interest. After that, electron microscopes made in Japan started to be widely exported to leading industrialized countries (USA and Europe). As you aware, this epoch making event accelerated the development in precision scientific instruments and our electron microscopes greatly contributed to scientific research around the world.
 Under these circumstances, in 1968, the founder and the first President of JEOL Ltd., Mr. Kenji Kazato, offered a donation based on his gratitude for support from society for the success of his electron microscope business. He hoped to return his profits for the further development of electron microscopy. His donation was used to establish the Kazato Research Foundation. Then, the Foundation started research grant programs for fostering young researchers in electron microscopy. Since its establishment, under the incessant support of JEOL, the Kazato Research Foundation has continued its research grant programs. Its main activities are the Kazato Research Grant Program and the Research Grant Program for International Conferences. For example, in 1986, at the 11th ICEM held again in Kyoto, the Foundation offered the grants to 51 overseas young researchers based on the Research Grant Program for International Conferences.
 Remarkable developments in electron microscopy have extended the type of microscope from conventional TEM to SEM and the ultrahigh voltage electron microscope, and furthermore, the analytical electron microscope for nano-area analysis. Now, the performance of modern electron microscopes ranges from direct observation of atoms and atomic columns to elemental analysis in sub-nanometer regions. In the science and engineering fields, electron microscopes reveal the relationships between the structures of various materials (semiconductors, metal and alloys, ceramics, high polymers, etc.) and their physical properties through the analysis of crystalline structures and lattice defects as well as a variety of analytical techniques, thus contributing to the development of cutting-edge technologies. In the medical and biological fields, electron microscopes are applied in the basic life science field, for purposes such as the analysis of structures and functions of animal and plant cells, viruses and cytoplasmic organelles, the clarification of ultrafine structures of functional molecules (proteins, etc.) and the structural analysis of protein conjugates at the atomic scale by the use of cryo electron microscopes. In addition, microscopes are utilized in clinical medicine for diagnosis of pathologic conditions. Thus, electron microscopes are greatly contributing to human welfare and health. If we confine electron microscopy to the improvements in the performance of the microscope and related theories, this field is not very wide. However, application fields of electron microscopy cover almost all fields of natural science. Thus, although the grants to encourage research for electron microscopy are modest, the influence of the grants on all of science is very significant.
 In 2007, the Foundation reviewed the existing Kazato Research Grant Program, and then the Kazato Prize and the Kazato Research Encouragement Prize were established. Also in 2008, the name of the existing Research Grant Program for International Conferences was adapted to the purpose of the grant; the Travel Expense Grant Program for International Conferences. Now, the number of the Grant recipients has amounted to as many as about 688 since the establishment of the Foundation. It is a great pleasure for us that all of the presentees have produced excellent scientific achievements through electron microscopes and they are now playing important roles in a wide range of fields as leading researchers. Through those grant programs, we will further pursue the aim of establishing the Foundation and meet the needs of young researchers.
 In April 2012, the Foundation has begun operations as “Public Interest Incorporated Foundation, Kazato Research Foundation.” The Foundation wishes for the further development of electron microscopy and promises to continually strive to support young researchers using electron microscopes. Finally, I sincerely hope for your continued support and guidance.

Apr 2024

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