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Hopes for the International Society on Infant Studies Conference in Kyoto

With the support of the Japan Society of Baby Studies (JSBS), the International Society on Infant Studies (ISIS) held a conference in Kyoto in June. This marked the first conference held outside Europe and North America. A pre-conference event on June 19 covered the Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) and the symposium on the afternoon of June 23 was open to the public. Further details on the program are available from the JSBS liaison office. Here, however, I would like to express my joy at this momentous event and my heartfelt gratitude for the cooperation of everyone. I have been involved in infant studies and research since the 1970 and worked with Dr. Konishi, JSBS Director, to found JSBS. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the significance of this occasion.

First, let me start with some personal reasons for becoming interested in infant studies. During the period of high economic growth in Japan, children's issues grew and manifested themselves in a number of phenomena from child abuse to refusal to attend school, bullying and other education-related problems. And although these issues were being researched by specialists in various fields such as child care, pre-school education, education, and medicine, they remained unresolved. As a pediatrician, I was naturally interested in child care, but felt that it lacked a sufficient scientific basis.

It was during this time that I read Condon's work on infant development. His observations on how even newborns moved their arms and legs in time with the parent's speech rhythms stimulated my interest. The thesis, which was based on these observations, drew criticism and made me wonder if it could not validated with more quantitative and scientific data. This was the start of my research on infants. Influenced by the research of John Bowlby, infant research was very popular in North America and Europe at the time during the 1970s and 1980s. Professor Konishi, who had studied in the Netherlands, approached me one day and suggested that we establish a Japanese organization for the research of infant behavior and development. This was the start of the JSBS.

This year's conference in Kyoto served to greatly contribute to the growth and development of JSBS and the activities of Japanese researchers at an international level. But apart from these developments, the conference is sure to be a turning point in infant research all over the world.
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