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Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma recognised for Japan-UK academic co-operation

By ucypsga, on 26 January 2018

Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma and Japan AmbassadorUCL’s Japan ambassador Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma has been awarded the Foreign Minister’s Commendation for his contribution to Japan-UK academic and educational relations.

Earlier this month, Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka presented Ohnuma, Professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology, with the award at a ceremony at the Embassy of Japan in London.

In addition to his work as Director of the PhD programme of the Sensory System, Technology and Therapies, Professor Ohnuma has worked over many years to strengthen UCL’s ties with Japan.

Historic links

Professor Ohnuma’s collaborative work includes the organisation of numerous important events. In 2013, he helped to organise celebrations involving various Japanese organisations to mark the 150th anniversary of UK-Japan academic collaboration, when five Japanese samurai – known as the ‘Choshu Five’ – first came to study at UCL.

Speaking after receiving his award, Professor Ohnuma said, “UCL has an amazing history with Japan, which includes the Choshu-Five and Satsuma-19.

“But in my role as UCL’s Japan ambassador and through active interaction with Japanese universities, high schools, and industries, I want to increase the status of UCL in Japan, improving recognition and the number of Japanese students studying here.”

Improving UK-Japan relations

In 2014, Ohnuma played an important part in the ‘Japan-UK Universities Conference for Collaboration in Research and Education,’ co-hosted by UCL and the Embassy of Japan in the UK.

Attended by 14 Japanese universities, 16 UK universities and the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, the conference encouraged further collaboration for not only UCL but many universities in both the UK and Japan.

A champion of future talent, Professor Ohnuma has also worked to encourage mutual understanding between young people in Japan and the UK. In 2015, he established the UCL-Japan Youth Challenge programme to promote interaction between students in both countries.

Hosted by many organisations in the UK, it has since been held annually, with around 100 students from both countries involved.

Contributions to Fukushima

Professor Ohnuma has also made significant contributions to his home prefecture, Fukushima, which was badly affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster. On top of supporting reconstruction efforts in the area, he played a key role in arranging a Memorandum of Understanding between UCL and the Fukushima prefectural government, and supported UCL students’ recent visit to the region.

Of the visit he said, “This month I visited Fukushima – where the East Japan Disaster inflicted huge damage six years ago – with 10 UCL and UCL Academy students, to understand the current status of Fukushima and encourage young generations in the area.”

At last week’s ceremony, Ambassador Tsuruoka congratulated Professor Ohnuma on his significant contribution to UK-Japan relations. Commenting on his award, Ohnuma said, “It is a great honour for me to receive this award from the Japanese Government.”

UCL-Japan collaboration on disaster management

By Sophie Vinter, on 2 August 2016

Written by Dr. Ryo Torii, Lecturer, UCL Mechanical Engineering

Students taking part in the UCL-Japan Young Challenge present during the symposiumA disaster management symposium held at UCL discussed how experience from the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011 can be used to build safety systems and resilience against future crises.

Expert speakers, staff and students from both the UK and Japan shared their views of disaster management by presenting their academic, industrial and administrative activities towards building a resilient society against unpredictable disasters.

The event was created in the framework of an academic relationship between UCL and Japan that started 153 years ago, when five samurais came to study here.

Lessons from 2011 disasters

The public symposium, on 28 July, was organised by Professor Shin-Ichi Ohnuma (Institute of Ophthalmology) and Professor Peter Sammonds (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction).

Tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011A delegation from Fukushima prefecture, which suffered from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant problem, reported the history of their response to the disasters and recovery to date.

A strong emphasis was placed on the importance of local community and dialogue.

Hope for the future

Groups of young students – participants in the 10-day UCL-Japan Young Challenge summer school – also presented their thoughts on disasters.

Approximately 50 British and Japanese students at A-level and equivalent shared experience of intensive academic workshops and lectures, cultural and language exchanges.

They presented what they discussed in a “disaster workshop” a day earlier, demonstrating a great awareness of, and consideration for, future risk.

Continuing relationship

Professor Peter Sammonds presenting during the symposiumThe symposium was followed by a reception, opened by Prof Nick Tyler (Department of Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering), to celebrate the UCL-Japan partnership.

In July 2015, UCL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fukushima prefecture to facilitate the public understanding of Fukushima and to provide high-level educational opportunities to students in the area.

In March 2016, Fukushima prefecture government hosted 15 students and researchers from UCL and the UCL Academy, including a special visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

This recent series of events were to follow that up with a special focus on disasters and the resilience of society. This international relationship will continue and be developed even further for the future as a basis of multifaceted interaction.