At the end of this fiscal year, the rector of Tsukuba University will conclude his mandate and leave that position for a newly elected one. The name of this refined and exquisite person is Leo Esaki.
For long time, students have come to Tsukuba partly for the fame of his name, and so I'd like to remind our community who he is. Probably most of you know him as a "Nobel prize" scientist, but not so many people know well that the "Esaki Diode" is the basis of the Japanese transistor industry and that Sony could not exist without his research. He belongs to an elite corps of young post-war Japanese researchers who believed in doing basic research, which sometimes leads to new solutions that make industry more competitive. Although his leadership of this university has accomplished many of the goals expected from this institution, there is one goal that probably the rector could not fulfill completely (and could have surely give him greater satisfaction than the perfunctory recognitions of "at the memory").
Leo Esaki has tried to encourage the institutes to keep the pace with the American way of science. At the present, there are many ways of doing things that make every single department function as a single, independant compartment, mostly isolated from every other institute. Not only do they find it difficult to collaborate, but also even in the same department, there is little team work. Actually, in some institutions, such as those engaged in medical research, there is an underground fight between those who believe basic research is the most important and those who claim that clinical experience in the most valuable. At the end, we cannot do without either of them, and I think there should be a teaching position distinct from a research assistantship. I admire the rector because he made a sincere effort to change the rules, and I give praise to him as a human being even in failure -- and in spite of the failure.
Probably the next election count down is started right now, with bets on who will be the next winner. I hope they find the right person with fame and leadership, with a little bit of Japanese diplomacy to make them accept the changes while making them believe they wanted the changes unanimously. In the end, for the sake of Japanese science, the "Esaki" reforms cannot be eluded.
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