Dr. Akito Arima, Former Minister of Education, Former Director General of the Science and Technology Agency, and Former President of the University of Tokyo, passed away at the age of 90 on December 7. Dr. Arima as a nuclear physicist had made a significant contribution to the promotion of Japan’s advanced scientific technology. His achievements are immeasurable. Fortunately, I had the pleasure to personally meet Dr. Arima, and I am grateful to him for giving me a lot of opportunities to learn about various energy policies in Japan and foreign major countries.
In the Japanese government’s energy policy, I am practically aware of the usefulness and importance of nuclear energy, though it currently tends to scale down in the whole energy sector. In particular, I have been fully involved in the Research and Development (R&D) of the ‘Molten Salt Reactor’ for about ten years thanks to Dr. Arima’s comprehensive guidance and full support to our research group. I took the initiative to hold a seminar on this topic, and our group organized the seminar at the Diet facility on August 26 this year and Dr. Arima gave a keynote lecture. In his lecture, he stressed the two critical points with his sense of impending crisis: (1) The Japanese government should increase the R&D budget significantly on advanced scientific technology because Japan is considerably behind the US, European countries, and China; (2) Japan’s public and private sectors need to raise young researchers in earnest, otherwise Japan’s know-how on its own advanced scientific technology which has been accumulated for long years will be lost. At the end of the seminar, a commemorative photo of Dr. Arima surrounded by young researchers was taken.
The loss of Dr. Arima, a scholar and politician respected by many people in and out of Japan, caused tremendous sadness to both our research group and our country. I pray that his soul may rest in peace and I express my condolences to his family. We should accept his keynote lecture given in August as his will, and I am determined to put it into practice in the future.