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Let's increase exchange among researchers and those involved with children all over the world

About three weeks ago, CRN suddenly received an e-mail from someone we did not know, a certain Y.R at Indonesia Education University. An international conference was to be held on Bandung, Indonesia on July 11 and 12 and it invited CRN to make a presentation. Unfortunately, with only two months until conference and other commitments, I had to decline the invitation.

The invitation reminded me of the time when CRN was founded. That was 1992, almost twenty years ago. The meeting took place at a small hotel deep in the fjords of Norway, about two to three hours from Bergen by bus. We discussed various issues regarding a plan to use the internet to link researchers and those interested in children's problems around the world. If my memory serves me, this was just after the symposium, "Children at Risk," sponsored by the Norwegian government, and I still remember the surrounding mountains that were lightly covered with snow. In Japan, the internet was just becoming a part of our daily lives and this was all still new to me. It was a year or two later that children's hospital where I worked became connected to the internet and I began to familiarize myself with it.

After retiring from the National Children's Hospital in 1996, I remained in contact with my colleagues and friends all over the world via the internet and decided to create a network of researchers and others involved in children's issues. I consulted Dr. Takemochi Ishii, Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo and then President of Benesse Corporation, Soichiro Fukutake, and fortunately, CRN was launched. That was almost 15 years ago. After that, it was not exactly smooth sailing, but our efforts began to produce results and we came to receive several inquiries yearly from abroad. The internet has extraordinary power to forge human relations globally, too.

Returning to the inquiry I received from Y.R. in Bandung, I learned that the conference to be held was the "The 2011 International Early Childhood Studies Conference-Current Issues in Early Childhood." A similar academic conference will be held in Kobe in July 2011, the 12th PECERA, Pacific Early Childhood Education Research Association, with Dr. Katsuhisa Gomi, University of Kobe, as chair. Last year's conference was held in Hangzhou, China, where I gave the keynote address. They have a slightly different focus, however, with the conference in Bandung consisting of early childhood studies, while the PECERA conference focuses more on early childhood research.

Academic studies related to children issues involve not only a wide range of specific fields from psychology, pedagogy, and pediatrics to pediatric health sciences, but also require research from comprehensive and interdisciplinary viewpoints. Conferences provide the occasion for researchers and practitioners who work in these fields to gather. This interdisciplinarity is the basis for Kodomogaku or Child Science.

Meanwhile, I received a brochure called the "Play Right Magazine" from an organization called IPA, which, it seemed, had also been following the CRN website. I was surprised to see the title of this organization because I thought it stood for the International Pediatric Association, of which I have been the chair. This IPA, however, was the International Play Association, an organization that will mark its fiftieth anniversary this year. The Japanese branch was started by Shoko Omura in 1979 and held its eleventh conference in Nagoya and Tokyo in 1990. The theme was "Play and Education" and after a visit to the Tenpaku Play Park in Nagoya, the Tokyo conference was held and turned out to be a great success.

I am happy to see the internet serving to bring together researchers and others who work with children all over the world. It also highlights the diversity of these perspectives, and underscores the importance of the viewpoint of Child Science, as we always emphasize.

Even when pediatrics cures children's illnesses, psychology is still necessary for children's emotional problems and pedagogy as well. This is all the more reason for Child Science with its perspective that combines the natural sciences and humanities from a comprehensive, interdisciplinary position, which is clearly necessary now for any children's problem. Unless pediatricians cross the boundaries of pediatrics to connect with psychologists, educators, and teachers, and psychologists cross the boundaries of psychology to connect with pediatricians, educators and with teachers as well to think and talk together, it will not be possible to find a way to solve these problems. CRN provides the virtual space to solve these problems, and there is also the Japanese Society of Child Science as the real space. As the search for a place to think about and resolve children's issues becomes increasingly global, I would like to create a real international site for Child Science. In order to do so, we need to further enhance the quality and quantity of exchange and communication via the internet among researchers and those working with children in many different fields from various perspectives. In this respect, the role of CRN will continue to grow.

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