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U. of Tokyo Honorary Prof. Fujishima transfers to University of Shanghai: Discovered photocatalytic reactions

  • September 3, 2021
  • , Mainichi , p. 24
  • JMH Translation

By Yonemura Koichi


[Beijing] – University of Tokyo Honorary Professor Fujishima Akira (former President of Tokyo University of Science (TUS)) transferred to China’s University of Shanghai for Science and Technology (USST) with his research team, which he trained, at the end of August. Fujishima discovered “photocatalysis,” the generation of a chemical reaction using light, and has been mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Prize. USST will establish a new research institute with Fujishima playing a central role.


Amid Japan’s worsening research environment caused by financial and other issues, the transfer to China of a top researcher, whose research is directly related to industrial competitiveness, can be said to be symbolic of Japan’s “brain drain.”


According to USST’s announcement, Fujishima and his research team will be at USST full time. USST plans to establish a global institute for photocatalysis as a platform to support the Fujishima team’s research.


According to a source well versed in Japan-China academic exchange, the Shanghai municipal government and USST agreed to jointly fund the institute’s establishment and operating costs. The total cost of the new institute is expected to be several billions of yen.


USST’s announcement quotes a top USST official as saying Fujishima’s transfer is “an important outcome in our university’s program to secure human resources, which will enhance our university’s capacity. We hope that [the transfer] will create a high level of output both in quantitative and qualitative terms. We will make the utmost effort in supporting the work of Dr. Fujishima and his team.”


Fujishima has served as the Director of the Tokyo University of Science Photocatalysis International Research Center, which was established at TUS in 2013 with support from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)’s Innovation Center Establishment Promotion Program. The center has been integrated into the Research Center for Space System Innovation, for which Fujishima serves as the Executive Advisor. TUS is reportedly not involved in Fujishima’s move nor the establishment of the new institute.


Fujishima has put effort into training international students from many countries. Three such students have been chosen for membership in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a body that represents Chinese academia. For his contributions to science and technology exchange between Japan and China, Fujishima was awarded the Chinese Government’s Friendship Award, which is given to foreign experts who have made contributions to China’s development, in 2019.

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