New Year Greetings for 2019

I wish to extend the compliments of the new year of 2019 to the members of the Japan Concrete Institute (JCI).

The last year will be remembered as a year of disasters. We can easily recall the following several major events.

  1. Northern Osaka Prefecture Earthquake on June 18 (maximum intensity of lower 6): Most of the high-speed railway lines were disrupted, affecting many commuters during the morning rush hours in Osaka.
  2. Western Japan Heavy Rain Disaster in early July: Torrential rain caused landslides and river floodings in different parts of the Chugoku and Shikoku regions Heavy damage was reported. (The cancellation of the afternoon session on the third day of JCI's annual convention in Kobe is still fresh in our minds.)
  3. Scorching heat from July to early August: Temperatures soared across Japan, with the temperature in Kumagaya city, Saitama Prefecture, reaching 41.1°C, the highest temperature ever recorded in Japan. Many people suffered heatstroke.
  4. Typhoon No. 21 on September 4: Due to the typhoon that hit the Kansai region, a storm surge inundated Kansai International Airport, and an extensive area in and around Osaka lost power. (Japan experienced many landfalls of typhoons last year.)
  5. Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake on September 6 (maximum intensity of 7): Damage to boilers at a single thermal plant resulted in a loss of power throughout Hokkaido. Power was not completely restored until the following week.

We should note that the extreme heat described above was a direct consequence of global warming, and the heavy rainfall and the typhoon were caused by climate change associated with global warming. JCI has worked to reduce CO2 emissions generated from concrete production. The disastrous events of this year and past few years, however, have made us keenly aware that the effects of global warming are becoming increasingly serious. We should step up our technical efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, including finding more effective ways to reuse waste materials and byproducts.

Last year, Japan experienced two large earthquakes including one with an intensity of 7. It seems certain that Japan entered a new period of heightened seismic activity since the South Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake of 1995. Further evidence of the intensity-of-7 earthquakes includes the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Earthquake of 2004, the Off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake of 2011, the Kumamoto Earthquake of 2016, and the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake mentioned above. To protect people's lives from natural disasters, such as earthquakes, heavy rains, and typhoons, it is essential to secure the safety of structures and the ground. At the same time, the safety of infrastructure must be ensured to provide electricity, gas, water, and transportation for citizens. One of JCI's missions is to continue our working to ensure public safety from natural disasters.

We also must attend to certain issues within JCI. The first is that quite a small number of women work in the concrete field. Female members account only for 3.7% of the about 7,000 members of JCI. To address this issue, we launched The Committee on Promoting Women's Participation and Advancement in the Concrete Field. Questionnaire surveys and interviews were conducted to identify the actual situation of women's participation. A preliminary action plan based on the findings was presented at last year's JCI Annual Convention. The final action plan will be reported this year at the JCI Annual Convention. Another issue is the negative image toward concrete among the public and our insufficient measures to change this image. To address this issue, we set up the Committee on Public Relations Strategy for Image Improvement of Concrete. The committee developed a PR strategy using the media and proposed innovative technologies to help enhance the image of concrete. These activities were reported on JCI's website last October. Both issues may take a long time to resolve, so we will continue to carry out steady efforts.

This year, JCI will work on various issues, including those mentioned above. JCI would appreciate your continued support and cooperation.

Manabu Yoshimura
Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Metropolitan University

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