Retirement Message - Honorary Director's Blog



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Retirement Message


Dear Friends of CRN,

After many years as the founding Director of Child Research Net (CRN), I am announcing the end of my tenure as of March 2013 due to advanced age and hereby passing the torch to Mr. Yoichi Sakakihara, the Vice-Director of CRN and Professor of Ochanomizu University. It has been a privilege to know and work with you. As long as I able, I hope to continue our communication through occasional contributions to the website as Honorary Director.

CRN was established with the support of Mr. Soichiro Fukutake, then president of Benesse Corporation in April 1996, the same year that I retired from the National Children's Hospital. The idea goes back four years earlier to a small get-together after the international conference on "Children at Risk" in Bergen, Norway in spring 1992. The conference was hosted by the Norwegian Centre for Child Research, whose research approach then appeared to me to be an interdisciplinary and ecological one called "child science." Mr. Sakakihara, who recently visited the institute, however, reports that its research currently has a cultural anthropology orientation, which suggests that its research aims and methods may have changed.

It is this discussion after the conference that I remember so vividly even now. Researchers and practitioners in child-related fields from all over the world piled into two large buses to travel a half a day from Bergen to a hotel on a fjord. The surrounding mountains, still lightly covered with snow, and the sky glistened red in the late afternoon sun. There we discussed how to use the internet to globally link researchers and others interested in children's issues. At the time, I did not have a concrete image of what this would be since the internet was still unfamiliar.

Luckily, the National Children's Hospital introduced the internet about a year after I returned to Japan, and a terminal was also installed in the Director's office. With the help of my more experienced office staff, I learned quickly and came to understand the significance of that discussion in Bergen.

The years passed and retirement approached. It was then that I came upon the idea of bringing together researchers and practitioners on the internet as my last project and contribution to resolving children's issues. I approached Mr. Fukutake, President of Benesse Corporation.

At that time, I was fortunate to have the help and backing of Mr. Yukio Shimauchi, who was Director of Educational Research at Benesse Corporation, and Mr. Takemochi Ishii, a close friend and classmate from the Tokyo University Medical School. Mr. Shimauchi was generous with his support and kindly introduced me to Mr. Fukutake. Mr. Ishii, who returned to university to study engineering right after receiving his medical license, went on to become an expert in information engineering, and we became professors about the same time. Not only did he help me when I started my research on infants, but when I consulted him about the CRN project, he was the one who thought of the name Child Research Net (CRN).

Thanks to your cooperation, CRN has continued to grow and now has four websites in three languages: Japanese, English, and Chinese (simplified and traditional characters). These enable us to engage in productive exchange on a global scale with researchers and practitioners working with children. Again, your guidance and assistance have been instrumental in this achievement.

I am confident that under Mr. Sakakihara's leadership from April, CRN will preserve and extend this legacy. Mr. Sakakihara was a hardworking and dedicated student who entered and practiced in my department of pediatric medicine after graduation. He went on to study pediatric neurology in the United States and specialize as a pediatrician. As a pediatrician, he is renowned as one of the few specialists in developmental disorders who both practices and conducts research. He is currently professor at the Graduate School of Ochanomizu University, a national women's university, where he teaches child care, early childhood and preschool education. He also serves as Vice President of the Japanese Society of Child Science, an organization that I established.

Guided by Mr. Sakakihara's vision, we can expect CRN to become even more active and vigorous in the future. With deep appreciation for all that you have done to sustain us thus far, I would like to ask for your continued support. Thank you.

kobayashi.jpg Noboru Kobayashi
M.D., Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo; President Emeritus of the National Children's Hospital; Honorary Director of Child Research Net (CRN). Awards include the Japan Medical Association Award for Outstanding Distinguished Service (November 1984), the 56th Mainichi Shuppan Culture Prize (October 1985), International Pediatric Association Award (July 1986), Second Class Order of the Sacred Treasure (Autumn 2001), and the Takemi Prize (December 2003). Books outside his area of specialization, pediatric medicine, include Human Science (Nakayama Shobo), Kodomo wa mirai de aru [Children are Our Future] (Medi-Science Inc.), Sodatsu sodateru fureai no kosodate [Reciprocal Development Through Child-raising] (Akaishi Shoten)