Report on Attendance at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the Association of East Asian Research Universities (AEARU) - Apr 22, 2004 -

Kazuo OIKE

The board of directors meeting of AEARU was held this year on April 22nd in the Shenzhen offshore production area in Guangdong, China. Chairman Irikura and myself were accompanied by Senior Manager, Togura.

The present makeup of the Board of Directors of the AEARU is as follows. President Zhu Quingshi of the University of Science and Technology of China is the chairman. Paul C.W. Chu, president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and President Chang-Sun Hong of KAIST of Daejeon, Korea are the deputy chairpersons and former chairman Wei-Jao Chen of Taiwan University and President Oike of Kyoto University also sit on the board. I was attending for the first time since Kyoto University took over the position from Tokyo University on the board, and was given a warm welcome by Chairman Zhu.

The agenda for the meeting of the Board of Directors mainly included discussions on recent operation reports and future operation plans. A number of future operation plans were decided. Plans were made for some workshops and summer camps for the students. There was also a report that a robot contest is planned at the chairman's university, and it was suggested that the schedule should be decided early because it will take participants some time to prepare for this event.

The First Medical Science Workshop was held simultaneously with the Board of Directors meeting at the same venue from April 21st to April 23rd. Professor Kiyomizu from the Translational Research Center of Kyoto University attended as chairman and made a report. I also attended this workshop to observe the newly established Shenzhen Hospital of Peking University. President Xu Zhihong of Peking University also came to introduce us to the facility.

It took one day's travel to reach Shenzhen. The journey from Kansai International Airport to Hong Kong International Airport takes three and a half hours. Hong Kong International Airport is a huge, new facility, and we gathered there with people arriving from Korea and Taiwan. We boarded a bus readied for us by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and crossed over a new large bridge. The place we had just crossed over was LokMaChau. We went through the exit procedures to leave Hong Kong then boarded another bus and soon found ourselves waiting in line to retrieve our luggage at the next stage of the journey, undergoing immigration procedures to enter China. We then passed through customs and entered the Shenzhen offshore production area. We re-boarded the same bus before arriving at the Wu Zhou Guest House in a special zone. This area does not appear on the map that I had brought from Japan but it is a hotel situated close by Honey Resort, located to the west of the central area.

I have been to Shenzhen City before but that was in 1974, a time when there were no direct flights from Japan to China. When you crossed the steel bridge you were confronted by a border lined with soldiers. I explained to the Chinese people how different things now were 30 years later. Heading north from Wu Zhou Guest House, the Shenzhen Civil Defense public offices are situated on the east side of the great Xinzhou Road on a way to the hospital of Peking University, and I saw the offices of the Earthquake Bureau. I asked the hospital director whether they had an earthquake policy. He replied that although they do have one, earthquakes do not occur there. I spotted an advertisement in the map of Shenzhen I had received from Mr. Irikura from the Holiday Inn.

When we got tired of the three-course dinners at the hotel, he took me to the seafood restaurant there. After we had a great seafood meal, we turned on the TV because the main part of our work was done, and we watched the musical Cats in English. I could understand everything well because subtitles like " a cat on the railway train (a cat on the railway train) " appeared at the bottom of the screen.

Everyone said that they would like the next Board of Directors meeting to be held in Kyoto next year around the time when the cherry blossoms are blooming. Mr. Irikura, who is in charge of international cooperation, promised that he would start making preparations. Someone from within the group of people in the medical workshop heard that, and said that he would like to have a workshop there too, but we weren't able to promise much at this time.

In order to promote the development of scientific technology in East Asia, I believe it would be good to have a new workshop started in Kyoto University, and Mr. Irikura also spoke about a COE program. I would like to see everyone's cooperation and receive some positive suggestions about this.

We headed for the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology from Shenzhen by car. Nobody checked our luggage at customs but they checked our temperatures and passports, and we entered Hong Kong again after passing through emigration.

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology was established in 1991 from among other things, donations from horseracing funds. Situated on the hillsides of Kowloon, the ocean dotted with many small islands provides a splendid view from the lobby hall and library. This view takes in what is called Clearwater Bay. The view from the students dormitories and staff lodgings must be splendid.

The library has an excellent reading room bathed in the light coming off the sea. I searched for the International Herald Tribune, the April 1 edition, in the library and was soon able to find it. This allowed me to show everybody an advertisement for Kyoto University.

I toured the Materials Measurement and Production Experimental Laboratory, where many technical staff were present at the facility, is used jointly by people from both within and from outside the university. A variety of measurements can be performed there such as by surface analysis, an electron microscope, a scanning microscope, x-ray crystal analysis, nuclear magnetic resonance and thin-film experimentation. The results can be seen displayed on the wall.

I enjoyed a splendid lunchtime meal at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology together with the other university presidents. President Chang-Sun Hong from KAIST of Korea also attended. Under proportional representation, Mr. Hong has become a member of the assembly.

In the afternoon I visited University of Hong Kong, under my own volition, for something other than my work for AEARU. It was a visit to the oldest university in Hong Kong. This is a large university situated on the mountainside of Victoria Peak in the center of Hong Kong, made famous in the movie "Longing". An overall presentation was provided by Vice President Lap-Chee Tsui and John Malpas, before Catherine, the superintendent of the Planning Department, gave the main talk, a passionate discussion for promoting mutual communications. It seems there are not many overseas students from Japan.

After those presentations were finished I then trotted up the hill to visit the Genome Research Centre, the new building of the Medical Department. There, I heard an interesting talk about the human genome and DNA experiment rooms, in which the leading-edge facilities are equipped.

I returned to the section where the head offices are located and inspected some Japanese research. It appears that Prof. Fuminobu Murakami has been providing guidance there for some time. Assistant Professor Peter Cave speaks lovely Japanese. Some students were proceeding with the work of putting up recipes for Japanese cooking on a web site. The work there is somewhat limited due to a lack of instructors but a lot of students are studying about Japan.

I visited during the final examination period of the University of Hong Kong, before the long summer vacation which extends for two and a half months from June to Sept, when the first-term of the new academic year commences in the fall.

Most of the 21st Century COE programs at Kyoto University aim at building research and learning bases in the East Asian region. I look forward to a broadening of communications between us and the member universities of the AEARU and the two universities in Hong Kong.

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