New Year Greetings for 2021

Junichiro Niwa

I wish a Happy New Year to all the members of the Japan Concrete Institute. It is my hope that 2021 will be a good year for all of you.

The whole of last year was marked by a new type of coronavirus, COVID-19. The outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan in January spread all over the world in no time, and as of the end of November last year, the pandemic had infected more than 60 million people worldwide and killed about 1.5 million people. However, news of the development of vaccines to combat this virus came out in November, so we look forward to the situation improving this year.

In Japan, as has been the trend over the past few years, torrential rains occurred in the Kyushu and Chubu regions centering on Kumamoto Prefecture in July, and the Kuma River system in Kumamoto Prefecture was particularly affected due to river flooding and levee breakage, resulting in close to seventy deaths. Such abnormal events are becoming yearly occurrences, making for challenging times.

JCI was also affected, as the coronavirus crisis forced the cancellation of the JCI Annual Convention in Hiroshima as well as an international conference that was to be held in Fukuoka, making 2020 a year of unequalled disruption in JCI's history. In addition, we had no choice but to cancel the concrete technology seminars we normally hold at various locations every year. While the activities of the Institute were significantly reduced in this way, we were able to implement the Authorized Concrete Engineer/Authorized Chief Concrete Engineer Qualification Examination and the Authorized Concrete Diagnosis & Maintenance Engineer Qualification Examination, which are major pillars of our activities, with utmost care taken to prevent the spread of infection. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the committees related to these qualification examinations and all the parties who helped us with their implementation.

In view of the precautions demanded by the current coronavirus crisis, most of the reporting sessions and symposiums of research and technical committees will now be conducted online through personal computers rather than in person. In line with this change, the reporting session of the Committee on Innovation Strategy for Concrete Industry chaired by Prof. Hirozo Mihashi, former President of JCI, was successfully held online this past November, and through this event, we received valuable suggestions regarding the direction JCI should take in the future. This year, we expect further growth of our online activities.

The JCI Annual Convention 2021 (Nagoya) currently under preparation will also be held online. Likewise, Concrete Techno Plaza will be held in a virtual format for the first time. The latest technologies will be displayed in corporate booths in a virtual space with 3D images and videos, and interactive online communication will be supported. All interested people will be able to participate as long as they have internet access. I look forward to seeing you all at this new age edition of Concrete Techno Plaza.

The challenges we face will go on for some time longer, but I look forward to us all working together energetically to deal with them. In closing, I would like to express my sincere appreciation of the great support and cooperation of all JCI members over the past year and going forward.

Junichiro Niwa
Professor, School of Environment and Society, Tokyo Institute of Technology

To Pagetop