New Year Greetings for 2013
I wish you members of Japan Concrete Institute a happy and prosperous New Year.
"The Great East Japan Earthquake" on March 11, 2011 has wrecked enormous damages to Japan by quakes, tsunami, and contamination by a radioactive substance due to a nuclear power plant accident. But recovering from the disaster in the suffered area will take a very long time.
Japan Concrete Institute has taken various initiatives for "the Great East Japan Earthquake". The Institute established a Special Committee on the Great East Japan Earthquake. The Committee's briefing session is scheduled to be held in Tokyo and Osaka in this coming April and May. Also last November, we conducted Science Council of Japan academic forum under the theme of "To Protect Lives and our Land from a Huge Natural Disaster - Messages from 30 academic associations, where Prof. Kyuichi Maruyama, the vice-president of JCI, delivered a lecture and discussed the topic. It is of large significance for JCI that the forum showed current challenges and a future direction of concrete structures, from the aspect of importance of nation building that is well-prepared for natural disasters and national land conservation. We believe the forum clarified positions of "Authorized Concrete Engineers and Authorized Chief Concrete Engineers" and "Authorized Concrete Diagnosis and Maintenance Engineers".
In Japan, as "the baby boomer generation" reached age of sixty, the government should spend more on social security. As a result, new construction investment is likely to decrease in the long run. In fact, cement production in Japan has already decreased to around half the peak. On the contrary, China produces 10 times volume of Japan's production. In these surroundings, how to revitalize the concrete field in Japan becomes an important issue.
If we look at the damage situation caused by the Great Earthquake, it is apparent that the damages of seismic strengthened concrete structures were minor. I believe, the public noticed that many "concrete" structures protected people and saved evacuees from tsunami. In other words, concrete structures were of great assistance to prevent or reduce disasters.
However, as the accident of tunnel ceiling collapse in Japan last December shows, appropriate operation and maintenance of existing structures constructed long time ago are becoming inevitable. Unfortunately, because public spending has been already cut by half, it is obvious that the number of useful structures will be remarkably decreasing in the near future if the trend continues. We believe that in order to reduce burdens on young people who are responsible for the next generation even in some small way, and to ensure safety and secure national land for the people, as an academic association JCI must stress the necessity of concrete structures and new technology development in society as well as resolve economic and technological issues to cope with the ongoing aging society.
Last December, Prof. Yamanaka at Kyoto University received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his research on iPS cells. Further research would contribute regenerative medicine development and overcoming serious disease which has been considered untreatable. The same applies to concrete engineering, and we expect that new technology development in this field will play an important role in society.
It is fortunate that JCI is going to host two international conferences this year: ICCS13 on concrete sustainability and SCMT3 on construction materials. We believe that appealing for an importance of concrete structures and new technology development to the world through these international conferences is also of considerable significance.
Together with the members, "Japan Concrete Institute" will make all efforts for recovery and rehabilitation from “the Great East Japan Earthquake" and for development of secure and safe social infrastructures through concrete engineering and technology.
Public Works Research Institute