Interviews & Opinions

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Interview with Toshikazu Hasegawa, new Chairman of the Japan Scientific Instruments Association

2022.10.06

Toshikazu Hasegawa, seventh Chairman of the Japan Scientific Instruments Association (JSIA)
Courtesy of JSIA

In June 2022, Toshikazu Hasegawa (President of EKO Instruments Co., Ltd.) was appointed as the seventh Chairman of the Japan Scientific Instruments Association (JSIA). The scientific instruments industry is an important industry that supports the construction of a foundation for Japan's goal of becoming an innovative science and technology nation, and the JSIA, as the national organization for the industry, brings together the 10 regional scientific instruments associations throughout Japan. Japan, together with the rest of the world, is being confronted with uncertain and difficult times, such as with COVID-19, so we talked with Chairman Hasegawa about his plans for how the JSIA will help further develop the industry, about his aspirations as the new Chairman, and about his thoughts on JASIS 2022, Asia's largest exhibition of analytical and scientific instruments, which was held recently.

An Association for the Industry's Prosperity ― Member Satisfaction is the Top Priority

Q: What are your thoughts about your appointment as Chairman?

I will be the seventh Chairman of the JSIA. Before me, Chairman Yazawa served for 12 years, and before him, Chairman Irie served for 18 years. I am humbled by the brilliant achievements of my predecessors.

This June I took over the Chairmanship of the JSIA from Chairman Yazawa, and ever since the days of the JSIA's precursor, the Japan Federation of Scientific Instrument Associations, I have been involved as a supporter of Chairman Yazawa and in many of JSIA's projects. However, when I actually became the JSIA's representative and witnessed the various projects, I was able to once again recognize that a broad perspective and sound judgement are critical.

Q: What is the JSIA's biggest challenge for the future development of the scientific equipment industry?

Over the past 10 years, the JSIA has worked on a variety of issues. We have reformed our organizational structure, renewed our operational projects, and promoted new exhibitions, among others. However, all of these efforts are rooted in the fundamental mission of the JSIA, which is "supporting the sound growth of member companies and contributing to the development of the Japanese scientific instruments industry."

This may sound a bit abstract, but I believe that JSIA's recognition of issues as an association is not just about individual issues, but is also about looking at the industry as a whole, understanding the situation at each member company, and then precisely pointing them in the right direction.

In order to ascertain how the industry's environment is changing, what kind of concerns our members' managers have, and what direction member companies should take in the scientific equipment industry, etc., we need to pay close attention to what is happening and perceive the "current state and future direction" of our members.

Therefore, I believe that for the question you asked, "What is JSIA's biggest challenge," which is an eternal issue, the answer would be "building systems and mechanisms that properly take into account the wishes of our members and that anticipate the direction of the industry."

We are very much aware that the development of the scientific equipment industry depends solely on the growth of each member company and on improving our member's satisfaction.

To this end, we will manage the JSIA by taking a bird's-eye view of the association as a whole and carefully listening to the voices of all our members.

Q: The economic environment around the world is severe due to the impact of COVID-19, and other factors. What is the situation in the scientific equipment industry?

From April to May, the JSIA's Economic Committee conducted a survey of its members on the prevailing business conditions in our industry. According to the results of the survey, an increasing number of respondents see a worsening in Japan's economic trends, but the business conditions at each company appear to be recovering based on their most recent financial results.

As in the previous year, the largest number of members cited "responding to changes in working styles" as their immediate business challenge, and there was also progress in the use of online business negotiations, etc. On the other hand, "Coping with high raw material (fuel) costs" increased significantly, quadrupling from the previous year. Many members voiced expectations for major government measures in the future, such as "increasing the budget for basic research" and "increasing the amount of funds for scientific research," and, in particular, more members than in the previous year cited "stabilizing the exchange rate" as an issue.

It is difficult to sum up the business conditions of the scientific instruments industry, including those of our members, in a single word or phrase, but I believe that each company can say that they are "maintaining a recovery trend despite the challenges."

A Vision of Fellowship, Status, and Expanded Performance with a focus is on JSIA Activities to Improve Member Satisfaction

Q: What do you think about the JSIA's vision?

Under the aforementioned mission, the JSIA conducted a questionnaire survey of its members asking, "What are the benefits of belonging to the JSIA?" The most common answer in the results was "Interacting and networking among members." The second was "Enhanced status as a member of the JSIA" and the third was "Expanded sales channels through general exhibitions and trade fairs for scientific and analytical instruments."

From these results, we learned that what members expect from the JSIA are "friendship among members," "improving status (the JSIA's brand and their own company's credibility)" and "expanding business performance." In future activities for the JSIA and its committees, we will consider how we can increase member satisfaction with these three visions (what we aim to be).

For "friendship among members"and "expanding business performance," in the past, exhibitions had been held to acquire new sales channels and the JSIA's annual General Meeting and the New Year's Celebration had been held to provide opportunities for members to interact with each other, but they were cancelled for two years due to the spread of COVID-19, although this year it was finally possible to hold them with some restrictions. The situation we're in is already being described as the "With COVID Era," so we will continue to make safety our top priority and proceed with the plans and restrictions that we believe are best suited for the moment.

Additionally, in terms of "improving status (the JSIA's brand and their own company's credibility)," I think that a key point will be how to cooperate with the government in the future. Currently, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) are the main players, but we believe that deepening cooperation with the government more than ever, such as by more frequently providing information to each ministry and by cooperating with the government in addressing industry issues, will lead to improving the JSIA's brand power and to improving each member company's credibility.

In line with the JSIA's mission, I will firmly guide the JSIA to ensure that our vision is realized.

Expectations for JASIS Celebrating its 10th Anniversary - WebExpo to be Held in Kansai and Developed in Various Ways

Q: A big event, "JASIS2022," which is co-sponsored by the Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers' Association (JAIMA), has just been held. What were your thoughts in the lead-up to it?

JASIS2022 is an exhibition of the latest scientific and analytical instruments that will support future research and development. The theme of this year's exhibition was "Discover the Future," and, with the message of "Future Society Supported by 'Measurement,'" we presented a variety of information for the development of science and technology and for the revitalization of the scientific equipment industry. Additionally, the exhibition was held at the Makuhari Messe exhibition center in Chiba, Japan, from September 7 to 9, with thorough measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of the exhibition's name being unified to "JASIS." As a commemorative event, on the first day we planned a roundtable discussion entitled "Evolution of the Research Environment and the Future of Scientific and Analytical Instruments," which featured executives from leading manufacturers in the industry, so we hoped people would attend it.

We also had a full lineup of briefings on new technologies and JASIS topics seminars. A comprehensive industry catalog, "Scientific and Analytical Instruments Directory 2023," was published in September and distributed free of charge at the exhibition venue.

In addition, "JASIS WebExpo2022-2023" is already open to the public and will be open until March next year, so I hope that people use it together with JASIS in Makuhari. Furthermore, "JASIS Kansai 2023" is scheduled to be held in February 2023, and JASIS will continue to develop in a variety of ways, so people can also look forward to that.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.(https://sci-news.co.jp/). Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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