Neues vom JSPS-Club 01/2022



A Look into the Future of the JSPS Club

by Chairman Heinrich Menkhaus

In the last general meeting of the members of the JSPS Club during the symposium on Bioeconomics at the Japanese German Center in Berlin, a change in the articles of incorporation of the JSPS Club, which is a registered association according to the German Civil Code, was agreed upon, namely to raise the number of board members from the former 7 to as many as 9. This however does not necessarily mean that all 9 positions have to be filled constantly. The number of necessary board members actually depends very much on the division of tasks and the individual availability of the board member in charge.

The change in the number of possible board members this time had two reasons: necessary additional manpower and rejuvenation. It enabled the board to name an additional board member for the broad task of public relations. It is Aiko Möhwald, who will introduce herself in this issue of the newsletter. Again, the overall principles of having as many females as males on board and recruiting the board members out of as many disciplines as possible were followed.

Two of the members of the board already serve since the JSPS Club was founded in 1995, namely the current chairman and author of this editorial, Heinrich Menkhaus, and the first and current treasurer, Arnulf Jäger-Waldau. There is another member of the board responsible for prices and awards, Wolfgang Staguhn, who did not belong to the first board, but joined the board many years ago. As the board members named grew old over the years, the board has to be rejuvenated, which was a steady task for the last years. It is now decided that the chairman and the board member for prices and awards will resign from their offices in due course.

As the board is very interested in a smooth succession of responsibilities to younger members, it would like to invite those among the members who are interested in the different tasks of the board and who believe that they will have the necessary time to fulfill their obligations, to make themselves known in order to be appointed to the board to get used to its inner workings which will then allow the older board members to step down without jeopardizing the smooth operation of the JSPS Club.



Club Symposium Bioeconomics

by Board Member Katja Koelkebeck

The 25th German-Japanese Symposium of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the JSPS Club took place in Berlin.
The topic of this year´s event was “Bioeconomics”. The venue was the Japanese-German Center Berlin (JDZB) in Berlin. The event was organized by the Local Organizing Committee, which consisted mainly of members of the regional group Berlin-Brandenburg under leadership of Prof. Roza Maria Kamp, namely Prof.  Sonoko Bellingrath-Kimura, Prof. Heinz-Georg Baum and Dr. Arnulf Jäger-Waldau.

The welcome remarks were framed by a musical performance by two young Japanese students of the University of Arts Berlin, playing pieces by Beethoven and Toru Takemitsu on violin and piano. Other than the Chairman of the JSPS Club, his Excellency the Ambassodor of Japan Hidenao Yanagi, the Secretary General of the JDZB Dr. Julia Münch, Ministerial Director of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research Frithjof Maennel and the Chairman of the DJG Berlin Dr. Bernd Fischer were invited as speakers.

The first part of the symposium on Circular Economy was convened by Prof. Heinz-Georg Baum from the Fulda University of Applied Sciences. Dr. Gernot Pehnelt, Head of Economic Institute for Waste and Environmental Studies (BIFAS) in Jena talked about “The Way to Circular Economy – Intention and Reality”. Here, Dr. Pehnelt described that now the anthropomorphic mass created by humans exceeds the biomass. Moreover, he pointed out that prizes do not really correspond to scarcity of material, but to external events, such as, in the case of oil prizes, conflicts in the near East or now the war in Ukraine. Interestingly, although rare elements have to be expensively bought and are sorely needed for certain modern technologies, there are hardly efforts put into the recycling of those elements. In total, about only 10% of economy is circular. Efforts are, however, now undertaken to motivate companies to invest in the disposal or recycling of material used to build their technology, e.g. panels. It is hard to convince people to pay the prizes of tomorrow´s disposal, while many products are actually not built to be recycled.

The second speaker, Prof. Marion Huber-Humer, Head of Institute of Waste Management (ABF-BOKU) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna talked about “Food Waste – How to proof the target of the Sustainable Development Goals: The example of Austria and Japan.” Here, she made clear that almost 10% of the earth´s population is hungry while 1/3 of the food is thrown away. The biggest problem is indeed food waste in the households. After China and the US, Europe is the region with the largest food waste in the world. Most of the wasted food concerns bread and dairy products; however, this has a smaller effect on the global CO2 output as compared to beef. The aim must be to halve the food waste by 2030 by responsible consumption and production. Buy consciously and eat it!

The second part of the talks of the first day were convened by Prof. Sonoko D. Bellingrath-Kimura of the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) and of Humboldt-University Berlin. She introduced as a first speaker Dr. Misuzu Asari from Kyoto University, Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies on “Promotion of 3Rs to Achieve SDGs in Japan (3R = Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; SDG = Sustainable Development Goals)”. In her talk, she impressively outlined her research on waste, e.g. in the city of Kyoto. She identified an increase in plastic garbage such as yoghurt cups and diapers for children, old people (ageing society) and pets as well as other single-use products; on the other hand, plastic bag waste has been reduced due to a directive that supermarkets should not give free plastic bags to their customers. Also, in Kyoto, citizens have to buy certain yellow bags, which might help reduce the waste. She said that the strategy should be combining Totoro and Doraemon: being in unison with nature and using a lot of technical gadgets. The vision is to have a carbon-neutral society by 2030 through recycling, reusing and reducing. Dr. Asari has many ongoing cooperations with partners in Germany.

The next speaker was Prof. Mami Oku from Tokyo Metropolitan University, Graduate School of Urban Environmental Studies, Department of Urban Science and Policy) who talked on the “Legal and Policy Framework toward Circular Economy in Japan”. Interestingly, built on the basic environment act, Japan has specific acts for different product categories as food, packaging, automobiles and recently plastic that regulate the lifecycle approach of these products. There are models that include the exchange of resources between rural and urban areas and green purchasing act that urges authorities to buy environmentally sound products.

Last speaker of the day was Prof. Dr. Susanne Rotter from Technical University Berlin, Institute of Environmental Technology, Chair of Circular Economy and Recycling Technology and Member of German Advisory Council on the Environment. Her talk was on “Opportunities and Limits of a Bioeconomy as an Integral Part of the Circular Economy – or how to get Plastics Circular”. While Germany boasts to be “super-recyclers”, indeed almost 60% of the products are just burned, which again produces CO2. About up to 2.5% of the plastic goes into the food chain in form of microplastic. Bioplastics are not all alike, some only use recycled plastic, but some are also biodegradable. Plastics can also be used for power to gas; this is, however, energy-expensive. Lastly, to substitute the oil that is needed for the actual plastic production, about 10% of the agricultural area needs to be utilized.

After the last talk, the JACA Prize 2022 was awarded by JSPS Club chairman Prof. Heinrich Menkhaus to Dr. Holger Thies. With this prize, the German JSPS Alumni Association honors his contribution to scientific exchange between the two countries. Since 2021, Holger Thies is a lecturer at Kyoto University in the Mathematical Informatics Group at the Department of Human and Environmental Science. The laudation was held by board member Dr. Wolfgang Staguhn, followed by the online acceptance-speech from Kyoto by Dr. Holger Thies.

On the second day, Dr. Anton Kraus moderated, after a spirited speech about the importance of soil, the topic of soil as a resource of bioeconomy. Prof. Katharina Helming from ZALF talked about “Soil as Sustainable Resource for the Bioeconomy: In Germany”. She pointed at the importance of soil as a storage medium of carbon, water storage, biodiversity and resilience against climate change. Major threats for soil are e.g. contamination, erosion, sealing of soils and salification. To ameliorate the health of the soil, however, we need to understand about drivers and a better management. To that, precision farming and digitalization can contribute. E.g. small autonomous machines can reduce the need for heavy tractors. Also, no-tilling is a way to reduce negative effects of farming.

In the next talk, Dr. Atsushi Hayakawa from Akita Prefecture University presented his talk “Soil functions as Natural Resource for the Bioeconomy: A case study in a catchment”. He has studied Lake Hachiro, once the 2nd largest fresh water lake in Japan, which has been converted in an agricultural area with mainly rice crops (88%). He has identified that marine phosphorus, which binds to iron and will be released under no-oxygen conditions, functions as a natural fertilizer in the rice fields. However, the phosphorus is drained with the water and gets lost to the circulation. Phosphorus from igneous sources is rather bound to aluminum and will not set phosphorus free. This phosphorus is from the inland. For the area, rice crops seem to be a perfect fit, while locals often also farm soybeans that need other circumstances.

The second set of talks were moderated by the Club´s treasurer Dr. Arnulf Jäger-Waldau. The first speaker, who was unfortunately not able to attend in person, streamed his talk via Zoom. Prof. Nobuhisa Kaneko from Fukushima University in his presentation “One Straw Revolution revisited – No-till Trials in Japan” talked about contaminated and abandoned farmland close to the disaster area of the nuclear power plant incident in 2011. There, people have tried to reduce the local contamination by removing the surface soil and replacing it with sand. However, only the first 18 cm are usable for farming, so farmland rehabilitation by natural farming is one approach. As there are less and less farmers, and the land has not been used in the area near the power plant due to the cesium contamination, and as farmland needs about 5-7 years until natural farming is fruitful, this situation is optimal to investigate results. From his experience, no tilling, weeds and fertilization will bring the best results in comparison to other constellations.

The last talk of the day by Prof. Bellingrath-Kimura on “Agriculture of the Future: New Bioeconomic Possibilities Due to Digitalisation” deals with the use of digitalization in modern agriculture. Only one cm of soil is produced in 100 Years, so the costs of erosion, for example, are very high. Modern technology can help to point out areas, e.g. where amphibians reside and thus fertilizer cannot be used. So-called cyber-physical systems can help bring together important information. In her present research project DAKIS, an interdisciplinary group works on respective projects. However, digitalization is just a tool, one has to define goals to use it, to build IT-competence and prevent monopolization of information processing.

The symposium was concluded by closing remarks by Prof. Hayashi from JSPS Bonn office.

After the symposium, participants and their company were able to participate in an excellent guided tour on the campus of the former Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institutes, now Max-Planck-Institutes. The residences and research facilities of Fritz Haber, Otto Warburg and Otto Hahn were visited and a specific view on female (and neglected) collaborators, e.g. Lise Meitner, the research collaborate of Otto Hahn.


Worldwide Japan Alumni Conference

by Chairman Heinrich Menkhaus

Japan has started to recognize the importance of its former foreign students and researchers who are now Japan alumni. To track the Japan alumni in 2013, a private organization was founded that calls itself Japan Association for Promotion of Internationalization (JAPI) ホーム - JAPI - 日本国際化推進協会. The homepage clearly states the background for its foundation, which is therefore cited here:

“Many foreign students (hereinafter referred to as ‘international students’) have come to study in Japan from all over the world … Acceptance of international students to Japan began approximately 140 years ago and has produced many graduates, mainly in Asia. Many of the graduates play an important role in their home countries and are extremely valuable to Japan. However, post-graduation follow-up surveys of international students have not been successful, and it has not been possible to understand who is doing what and where. In response to this situation, our association is building a platform that allows active international students and graduates from all over the world to appeal their activities, along with creating a system that creates connections with the Japanese government, universities, and companies.”

While in the beginning JAPI has focused very much on the ASEAN states, in 2021 it held the first world-wide Japan alumni conference via Zoom. The JSPS Club got an invitation from the Japanese General Consulate in Düsseldorf to have a Japanese speaking representative take part, but without the right to speak. Given the award bestowed on the JSPS Club by the Japanese Foreign Ministry in 2012 (Preis des japanischen Außenministeriums für die vorbildliche Pflege der Beziehungen mit Japan auf wissenschaftlichem Gebiet; JSPS-Club: Auszeichnungen für den Club), the board decided not to participate. In 2022 the second Japan alumni conference was held and this time the JSPS Club was invited with a time slot to speak about its current activities and future tasks and also to discuss with the representatives of Japan alumni organizations in other states in the so-called break out rooms.

The author was asked by the board to represent the JSPS Club in this meeting and it gave me a very good opportunity to present our organization. In the break out room, I even had the opportunity to talk briefly with the former Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, and the parliamentarian secretary of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Uesugi Kentaro. For details please refer to the HP of JAPI under 第2回帰国留学生総会(Japan Alumni Conference)開催のご報告 - JAPI - 日本国際化推進協会.

To cover almost all states of the globe, the ZOOM conference was split, featuring half of the participating states in the first run and the other half in the second session, to which the JSPS Club was invited. I, however, got the opportunity to listen to the statements in the first half as well and therefore got a good overview on the reality of Japan Alumni activities in the different states. There was also a follow-up meeting between JAPI representatives and me with a number of questions but also a number of offers to our organization.


Bar camp during the yearly national assembly of the member associations of the Federation of German Japanese Societies in Frankfurt/Main, May 28th 2022

by Chairman Heinrich Menkhaus

In 2006 at the get together of the Federation of German Japanese Societies in Bremen, the JSPS Club became a member of the federation. The reason was the longing for a closer cooperation with the German Japanese Societies. In particular, the JSPS Club was interested in getting its members invited as lecturers to the activities of the local German Japanese Societies and in turn, the JSPS Club would invite the members of the German Japanese Societies to its yearly symposia and have the chairman of the local German Japanese Society give greeting remarks at the venue of the symposium.

This did not work as planned. Invitations to our members as speakers to the activities of the local German Japanese Societies were hardly ever received, except for the German Japanese Society in Bonn, where JSPS Club board member Sabine Ganter-Richter is the chairwoman, and Berlin, where two of the JSPS Club members are members of the board of the local German Japanese Society: Alexander Olbrich and Verena Materna. Participation of the members of the local German Japanese Societies at the yearly symposia of the JSPS Club was almost zero and sometimes nobody of the board of the local German Japanese Society was available to deliver greeting remarks. It has, however, to be stated that the JSPS Club received a very warm welcome in the city of Hannover by the two local German Japanese Societies, namely the Hannover Hiroshima Yukokai and the Chado Kai when the Club was doing its yearly “Members invite Members” event in Hannover in 2016.  

Figure: From left Mr. Thürnau (Hannover), Mr. Herden (Bielefeld), Mrs. Klein-Langner (Würzburg), Mr. Meyer (ViceChair of the Federation), Mr. Menkhaus, Mr. Staguhn, Mr. Klein-Langner (Würzburg), Mr. Geball (Lüneburg), Mr. Krischok (our member and leader of the Thüringen regional group of the club), Mr. Fritz (Karlsruhe)

The board of the JSPS Club therefore often discussed the situation. There were two alternatives: either to leave the federation, because due to its high number of members the JSPS Club is one of the top payers of the funds of the federation, or to increase the visibility of the JSPS Club. It was decided to do the latter. In the meeting of the Federation in Trier in the year 2016, the JSPS Club took the opportunity to organize a workshop under the title “Wissenschaftsaustausch soll grenzenlos sein – Aber lernen Deutsche und Japaner genug voneinander und miteinander?“ (Jahrestagung 2016 - Verband Deutsch-Japanischer Gesellschaften e.V. ( At the meeting of the federation in Bonn in 2018, the Club organized a second workshop under the title „Bedeutung der Wissenschaft für die deutsch-japanischen Beziehungen“ (Jahrestagung 2019 - Verband Deutsch-Japanischer Gesellschaften e.V. ( and finally, in 2022, at the meeting of the Federation in Frankfurt, the JSPS Club organized a workshop (called bar camp) under the title „Vorstellung der Regionalgruppen der Deutschen Gesellschaft der JSPS-Stipendiaten e.V. und Vernetzung mit den lokalen JDGen“. As not all representatives of the regional groups of the JSPS Club could attend the meeting, some of the regional groups provided power point presentations and the regional groups of Stuttgart and Thüringen, Halle, Leipzig were represented by their respective heads Wolfgang Staguhn and Stefan Krischok.

Already in Trier it was decided that the JSPS Club would create a list of potential speakers and their topics to be mailed to the Federation and then disseminated to the local German Japanese Societies. This, of course, was done. This time in Frankfurt, it was recommended to renew and enlarge the list to be forwarded, but the representatives of the JSPS Club also stressed that the office of the Club can be contacted any time if a speaker for a certain topic is looked for.

It turned out that there are fears on the side of the local German Japanese Societies that an invitation of a scientist might be an expensive affair, but the representatives of the JSPS Club at the meeting ensured the participants that only the fees for transportation and, if at all necessary, for accommodation are expected to be covered. If there is a remuneration and what its possible amount could be, it is completely up to the inviting organization. Concerns were also raised if a scientist as a speaker would be understood. But, in this respect the present members of the JSPS Club could reassure the participants that scientific problems are presented in a way that is supposed to be understood by everybody.

After all efforts on the side of the JSPS Club, it is now desirable that members of the Club are actually invited as speakers. There are already hopeful signs. The author already received two requirements for possible speakers from Hannover and Frankfurt.


Welcome Reception of the Japanese Consul General Asazuma for the members of the JSPS Club Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter

by Matthias Hofmann, Board Member & Head of the Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter and Shiori Mochimaru, Board Member & Member of Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter

Picture 1: Group picture of all participants of the welcome reception of Consul General Asazuma (Picture jap. Consulate General Frankfurt)
From left to right: Ms. Yano (Vice Consul), Mr. Glück, Ms. Minarsch, Ms. Glück, Mr. Berberich, Ms. Krohmer, Ms. Nakayama-Mühlenbernd, Mr. Mühlenbernd, Mr. Hofmann, General Consul Asazuma, Mr. Wennmann, Ms. Mochimaru, Mr. Pflanzer, Mr. Dittmayer, Mr. Wolschin (missing: Ms. Trommsdorff).

On the evening of 20th April 2022 Consul General Asazuma, of the Japanese Consulate General in Frankfurt invited the members of the JSPS Club Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter to a welcome reception in his residency. The welcome reception was organized to enhance and strengthen the exchange between the Japanese Consulate General in Frankfurt and the local regional chapter of the Club.

By chance, the event was also the first possibility that Club members of the Rhine-Main and Rhine-Neckar regions met in person since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago. Consul General Asazuma opened the event with a short speech highlighting the longstanding friendship between Japan and Germany. Afterwards Dr. Hofmann, head of the Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter briefly presented the history of the JSPS Club as the oldest worldwide alumni organization of JSPS to those present. He reported on the sustainable contact and exchange with the Japanese Consulate General in Frankfurt which was strongly supported by his predecessor Consul General Kawahara. Furthermore, Dr. Hofmann mentioned the local meetings of the members of the local regional chapter, which have been taking place at regular intervals since autumn 2016 and that members of the Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter supported the “Japan im Klassenzimmer” program of the Consulate General. As a “thank you” for the warm invitation to his residence, Dr. Hofmann handed over a “Frankfurt gift basket” to Consul General Asazuma.

Picture 2: Welcome speeches of General Consul Asazuma and Dr. Hofmann (head of Rhine-Main-Neckar regional chapter) (Picture jap. Consulate General Frankfurt)

In an open and informal atmosphere, a direct exchange and getting to know each other between the members of the Rhein-Main-Neckar regional chapter and Consul General Asazuma and Vice Consul Yano could be established while enjoying excellent Japanese food on the residence patio and garden. The friendship reception literally flew by and after 2.5 hours it was time to end the evening. After taking a group picture with all participants Dr. Hofmann thanked the Consul General Asazuma and the staff of the Japanese Consulate General Frankfurt on behalf of all participants of the regional group and on behalf of the board of the JSPS Club for the planning, organization, and course of the informative evening with a very lively exchange of discussions. At the end, Consul General Asazuma and Vice Consul Yano personally said goodbye to all participants of the friendship reception.


JSPS Club represented again at the 
Nippon Connection in Frankfurt

by Board Members Aiko Möhwald, Shiori Mochimaru and Club Member Jörg Wennmann

On May 24th till 29th the 22nd Nippon Connection Film festival finally opened the doors to fans of Japanese films in Frankfurt am Main. After the world's largest Japanese film festival took place online in the past two years, in 2022 it was finally possible to meet in person and see the latest and critically acclaimed Japanese movies live on screen. At the two main locations of the festival, Naxoshalle and Mousonturm in the center of the Bornheim district, not only around 100 films were shown. The program further comprised countless workshops, lectures and performances all related to Japan and its culture.
On May 26th, the JSPS Club had a stand at the festival at the Mousonturm location to present the activities of the club and the JSPS scholarship programs. The club was represented by Aiko Möhwald, Shiori Mochimaru and Jörg Wennmann. But other club members also showed up and visited the stand along with numerous other visitors to the festival. The number of visitors was very large, which was certainly due to the excellent location of the stand right in the main entrance area of ​​the Mousonturm location. In particular, many young people found their way to the stand and were very surprised that there are already scholarship opportunities for master's degree students. Aiko Möhwald was able to report on her experiences with the JSPS Summer Program, while Jörg Wennmann reported to some interested visitors about his experiences as a postdoc in Japan. The club's activities also aroused interest and many were surprised at the active community behind the JSPS Club.

From our experience, our stand was a great success to promote JSPS scholarships as well as to increase public awareness of the JSPS Club. Due to the large number of young visitors, it cannot be ruled out that one or the other student will apply for a JSPS scholarship in the future and remember our JSPS Club afterwards.



JACA Award for Dr. Holger Thies

by Board Member Wolfgang Staguhn

The German JSPS Alumni Association honors Dr. Holger Thies with the JACA Award 2022, the JSPS Alumni Club Award 2022. With this prize, the German JSPS Alumni Association honors his commitment to scientific exchange between the two countries.

Holger Thies already developed his scientific contacts with Japanese mathematicians and computer scientists during his bachelor thesis (2013) and then his master’s degree (2013-2015). It was just the time when a large cooperation project (DFG and JSPS) between the mathematics faculties of the TU Darmstadt, the Waseda and Tokyo Universities resulted in many new projects that would otherwise not have been possible.

At the end of his bachelor’s degree, Holger Thies began working with Prof. Martin Ziegler at the TU Darmstadt. His research work was the field of computable analysis, a sub-area of ​​theoretical computer science that deals with the basics of scientific computing. Prof. Martin Ziegler worked closely with Prof. Akitoshi Kawamura, at the time assistant professor at Tokyo University. Their research was not in the focus of the large international graduate school. Nevertheless, Ziegler and Kawamura were able to set up an exchange program between the mathematics department at the TU Darmstadt and the Graduate School of Information Science and Technology at Tokyo University.

In this context, Holger Thies was able to work for 6 months as an exchange student in Kawamura Akitoshi's research group - at the end of 2013 / beginning of 2014. Holger Thies was capable to quickly establish contacts with other students with similar research interests. The research project with Prof. Kawamura later became an essential part of his master’s thesis. In addition to research, Holger Thies attended language courses at Tokyo University in order to cope better with everyday life in Japan.

Doctorate in Japan: At the end of his master’s degree in 2015 at the TU Darmstadt, he applied for a doctoral position with Prof. Akitoshi Kawamura at Tokyo University. Akitoshi Kawamura's acceptance came spontaneously, without having applied for a scholarship. Holger Thies took the chance and accepted the position at Tokyo University in autumn 2015. Luckily, he was able to quickly get a MEXT grant for one year and then a JSPS DC2 fellowship a year later.

Despite some hurdles in obtaining the financial support and a move from Prof. Kawamura to Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Holger Thies was undeterred and successfully completed his doctorate at Tokyo University in September 2018. During his doctorate, he was involved in teaching and, for example, accompanied lectures as a teaching assistant. At the same time, he was able to expand and strengthen his international contacts in his field of work during this time.
In addition, he has achieved an excellent level in the Japanese language in these 3 years and already passed the JLPT Level N1 in 2016.

After his doctorate, Dr. Holger Thies initially started as a JSPS Postdoc for 6 months (September 2018 to May 2019), in the group of Prof. Akitoshi Kawamura at Kyushu University.

Then he was able to get a job as an assistant professor at the Computer Science Department of Kyushu University. There he was affiliated with the lab of Prof. Junichi Takeuchi, which deals with mathematical engineering and artificial intelligence.

As an assistant professor, Dr. Thies was also involved in teaching and giving lectures to master students in English, mainly attended by exchange students. He also had the task of co-supervising the students in the lab and accompanying Japanese research seminars together with other professors.

In April 2021 he moved to Kyoto University. Since then, he has been a lecturer in the Mathematical Informatics Group at the Department of Human and Environmental Science on the Ikedayama campus. There, he works in an international team on his first project as part of the JSPS Kakenhi Grant-in-Aid for Early-Career Scientists on the topic: “Computational complexity and practice of verified and efficient algorithms for dynamical systems”. Here, Holger Thies focuses on differential equations using methods from computability and complexity theory.

In Kyoto, he mainly teaches basics of mathematics in courses for first-semester students, who are increasingly attending English lessons. He gives several lectures in English every semester, also attended by exchange students.

Final word: Holger Thies, like only a few master graduates from a German technical university, was able to write his doctoral thesis in Japan in his field of ​​mathematics and computer science and then continue to work successfully at a University in Japan. He has steadily trained himself in the Japanese language and is now able not only to survive in the Japanese scientific community.

At the same time, he expands his international network in his research field. During and after his doctorate, he always worked with several scientists from Germany and other European countries, including in the EU project “Computing with Infinite Data”, with co-funding through a JSPS project. Unfortunately, because of Corona, little exchange with Germany and other countries was possible.

As Martin Ziegler says: “Holger is an outstanding example of the JSPS Alumni Club's bridging function between Germany and Japan, and as a young scientist a great role model.”

Congratulations to Dr. Holger Thies for the JACA Award. The JSPS Club wishes him all the best for his scientific career.



30 Jahre Proteinforschung Japan-Berlin

by Club Member Prof. Roza Maria Kamp, Berlin

Meine erste Begegnung mit Japan war 1978, vor 44 Jahren, und zwar in Berlin. Ich habe am Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Genetik vor genau 40 Jahren promoviert und danach noch einige Jahre dort als wissenschaftliche Angestellte gearbeitet. Zu dieser Zeit hatten im Institut schon mehrere japanische Forscher [1], meistens als Gruppenleiter, gearbeitet. Der damalige Direktor Prof. Dr. Heinz-Günther Wittmann hat die fleißige Arbeit und die Zuverlässigkeit der japanischen Forscher sehr geschätzt und sie gern eingestellt und gefördert. Alle waren immer als Erste und als Letzte im Labor, sie waren einfach immer da, immer vor dem Chef gekommen und nach dem Chef nach Hause gegangen.

Das Thema des Instituts war die Struktur und Funktion von Ribosomen, die Eiweiße nach dem Schema der mRNA produzieren. Das Institut hat die Grundlagen erforscht, nach denen jetzt der mRNA Impfstoff hergestellt werden konnte. Meine Arbeitskollegin, Ada Yonath, hat sogar einen Nobel-Preis für die Erforschung der Struktur von Ribosomen erhalten.

Die innovative Forschung in Berlin war schon damals unter japanischen Forschern bekannt, die mit verschiedenen Stipendien, auch von der JSPS, nach Berlin gekommen sind.

1986 ist auch ein Proteinforscher vom Tsukuba, National Agriculture Institute, Dr. Hisashi Hirano, als Humboldt-Stipendiat für ein Jahr nach Berlin gekommen.  Wir beide haben in der Arbeitsgruppe von Frau Prof. Dr. Brigitte Wittmann-Liebold gearbeitet, die neben der Ribosomen-Grundlagenforschung auch neue Methoden und Geräte für die Erforschung von Proteinstrukturen parallel entwickelt hat.

Sie hat Proteinsequenatoren und Aminosäureanalysatoren gebaut, die damals noch nicht konventionell zu kaufen waren. Seit dieser Zeit habe ich eine enge Kooperation mit Japanern und zusammen haben wir viele neue Ideen und Methoden bearbeitet, Publikationen und Bücher zusammen geschrieben, Weiterbildungskurse und Konferenzen veranstaltet.

Die Kernzusammenarbeit hat sich immer auf die Entwicklung von neuen Nano-Methoden zur Analyse von Proteinen konzentriert, egal aus welchen Organismen sie stammten.

Ich bin Ingenieurin und habe nach meiner Forschung am Max-Plank-Institut für eine Firma in Berlin, Knauer Wissenschaftliche Gerätebau, gearbeitet. Deswegen hat mich Technik und Entwicklung schon immer im Leben begleitet. Wir haben alle möglichen Proteine untersucht, z. B. aus Reis, Spinat, Hefe, Bakterien, aber auch humane Proben.

Ich habe meine Arbeit mit Proteinanalysen aus E. coli Ribosomen begonnen, aber danach auch Proteine aus kranken, menschlichen Muskeln und Allergene untersucht, um Biomarker zu finden. Prof. Hirano hat sich auf Krebs und Proteasomen, die nicht benötigte Proteine in den Zellen abbauen, konzentriert.

Heute ist es möglich, alle Proteine in lebenden Organismen auf einmal zu untersuchen und zu vergleichen, um herauszufinden, welche Proteine Krankheiten verursachen. Das ist die Basis, um neue Medikamente oder Therapien zu entwickeln, sog. personalisierte Medizin. Manche Krankenkassen übernehmen heute sogar dafür die Kosten.

Abb. 1: Vergleich der Proteine aus kranken Muskelzellen (3-monatiges Kind) und Kontrolle (orange)

Für die Vergleiche von kranken und gesunden Zellen wurden Elektrophoresen bei 5000 V (Abb. 1), später auch Massenspektrometrie (heute Standard) durchgeführt und natürlich speziell dafür entwickelte Computer-Programme genutzt.

1992, genau vor 40 Jahren, wurde ich zu einer internationalen MPSA (Methods in Protein Sequence Analysis) Konferenz nach Otsu eingeladen, aber davor habe ich die Arbeitsgruppe von Prof. Akira Hirano am National Agriculture Institute in Tsukuba, besucht. Das war meine erste Reise nach Japan und ich habe mir Japan anders vorgestellt. Tsukuba hat mich an eine US-amerikanische Stadt erinnert, die schachbrettartig gebaut sind, die Universität hatte alle möglichen Sporteinrichtungen und Burger King war auch schon da.

1993 hat Prof. Hirano Tsukuba verlassen und am Kihara Institute for Biological Sciences in Maioka-Yokohama eine Arbeitsgruppe für Proteinforschung gegründet.

Das Institut in Maioka ist wunderschön auf einem Berg gelegen und jeden Tag bin ich von der Bahnstation über Reisfelder hochgelaufen, wo unterwegs auch ein Schrein stand. Das Institut ist für die Agrarforschung zuständig und es mussten viele Versuche auf den angrenzenden Feldern durchgeführt werden, auch mit genveränderten Pflanzen, die von der Bevölkerung von Maioka akzeptiert wurden. Ich habe auch ein Stück Ackerland bekommen, um für mich deutsches Gemüse zu züchten.

Nächste Stationen von Prof. Hirano waren die Yokohama City University Graduate School of Nanobioscience-Tsurumi Campus und danach das Advanced Medical Research Center-Fukuura Campus, wo er eine Direktorenstelle bekommen hat.

Abb. 2: Proteinanalysatoren: Massenspektrometer und Proteinsequenatoren

Ich habe in allen o.g. Laboren gearbeitet, meistens zwei bis drei Monate als Gastprofessorin, aber auch ein ganzes Forschungssemester absolviert, wenn ich von meiner Hochschule freigestellt wurde.

Es hat mich immer beeindruckt, wie viele „high tech“ Maschinen in Prof. Hiranos Laboren zur Verfügung standen. Die einzelnen Geräte zur Erforschung von Proteinen kosten ca. 500.000 € und ich konnte damals als Professorin, mit Unterstützung vom BMBF, nur ein Gerät kaufen. Prof. Hirano hatte eine sehr enge Kooperation mit dem Unternehmen Shimadzu in Japan und hat für Weiterentwicklung und Evaluation mehrere Geräte kostenlos erhalten. Er hat mir vorgeschlagen, dass ich die Geräte mitnutzen kann und ihm einfach Proben aus Berlin per DHL zuschicken kann und sie würden in Yokohama analysiert. Das hat auch sehr gut und zuverlässig funktioniert.

Abb. 3: Japanische Doktoranden und Julia und Rebekka aus Berlin (vorn in der Mitte)

Ich konnte für die internationale deutsch-japanische Proteinforschung viele Studierende begeistern, die auch Erfahrung in Japan sammeln wollten. Ich habe mehr als 10 Studierende nach Japan vermittelt, aber immer mit der Auflage, dass sie zuerst Japanisch lernen müssen. Dank der Kenntnisse der Sprache haben meine Studierende sofort sehr engen Kontakt zu japanischen Kollegen bekommen und zwei haben sogar in Japan geheiratet. Das Labor von Prof. Hirano wurde zu einem „Laboratory of Excellence“ in Japan ernannt, wodurch die Qualität der Arbeit nochmals bestätigt wurde und ich konnte weiterhin mit gutem Gewissen auch meine Forschungskollegen, wie Prof. Schmidt oder Dr. Jungblut für die Kooperation mit Japan begeistern.

1997 habe ich von Prof. Hirano eine Einladung an die Yokohama City University bekommen, die von der JSPS finanziert wurde. Ich habe regelmäßig Vorlesungen mit einigen schlafenden, aber konzentrierten Studierenden gehalten und im Labor japanische Doktoranden betreut. Es war für mich faszinierend, dass japanische Geräte schon damals mehr als europäische automatisiert wurden und einfacher zu bedienen waren. Dadurch waren meine Sprachprobleme kein Hindernis, um effektiv zu arbeiten.

Zu dieser Zeit hat im Labor auch Frau Dr. Motoko Takaoka gearbeitet. Sie träumte von einer Karriere als Wissenschaftlerin, aber sie wollte auch eine Familie gründen, aber hat sich nicht getraut. In vielen Gesprächen konnte ich sie überzeugen, dass alles möglich ist, weil ich auch schon Mutter war.

Bei meinem nächsten Besuch in Japan, nur sechs Monate später, war sie schon schwanger und heute arbeitet sie als Professorin am Kobe College. Sie hat auch mehrere Auslandsaufenthalte absolviert und das sogar mit ihrer Tochter Maria (nach mir benannt), die sie begleitet hat und im Ausland zur Schule gegangen ist.

Nach meiner ersten Gastprofessur 1997 ist 1998 die nächste gefolgt, diesmal finanziert vom DAAD und danach vom MEXT (Ministerium für Bildung und Wissenschaft).

Abb. 4: Yayoi Kimura 1997, Doktorandin, jetzt Professorin

Ich habe in dieser Zeit eine Doktorandin, Yayoi Kimura, betreut, die 1998 auch in Berlin in meinem Labor gearbeitet hat. Es freut mich, dass sie heute auch als Professorin an der Yokohama City Universität weiterarbeitet und neben ihrer Karriere auch eine Familie mit zwei Kindern gegründet hat. Ich bin positiv überrascht, dass ich neben meiner Laborarbeit auch Genderaktivitäten in Gang gesetzt habe. Auch andere Mitarbeiter von Prof. Hirano haben sich entschieden, internationale Karriere zu machen und sind z. B. in die USA gegangen, auch mit Kindern.

2005 habe ich zusammen mit Prof. Hirano eine Konferenz im Rahmen von „Deutschlandjahr in Japan“ in Yokohama organisiert, die vom Berliner Senat und dem BMBF finanziert wurde. Es sind mit mir drei deutsche Wissenschaftler nach Japan gereist, dazu sind mindestens 10 japanische Redner und viele Teilnehmende aus ganz Japan eingeladen worden. Wir haben fast eine ganze Woche über die neueste Entwicklung in der Proteinforschung diskutiert und es haben sich wieder neue Kooperationen entwickelt.

In den vielen Jahren gemeinsamer Forschung, habe ich auch in Berlin Konferenzen und Kurse zur Proteinforschung organisiert, z.B. FEBS (Federation of European Biochemical Societies) oder EMBO (European Molecular Biochemical Organisation). Natürlich wurde Prof. Hirano als international anerkannter Experte immer eingeladen, um nicht nur Vorträge, sondern auch Experimente im Labor mit Kursteilnehmenden durchzuführen. Da er 100% sicher sein wollte, dass alle Versuche nach japanischem Standard funktionieren, hat er immer ein vollen Koffer Chemikalien mitgebracht. Sogar im Handgepäck konnte man damals flüssige Chemikalien transportieren, auch giftige Substanzen.

Abb. 5: Fukuura Campus 2012, Doktoranden und Prof. Hirano links, neben mir

Einige Jahre später, 2009, war ich wieder in Yokohama, diesmal an der Graduate School of Bioscience am Fukuura-Campus in Yokohama, wunderschön in der Tokyo Bay gelegen. Direkt vom Labor habe ich die Unendlichkeit des Wassers gesehen und daneben war auch ein Strand vorhanden.

Die Klinik hat uns ganz frische humane Proben geliefert, die für die Diagnosen und für die Forschung unabdingbar waren. Das Leben ging am Fukuura-Campus etwas gemütlicher zu. Auch die Dienstwohnung mit drei Zimmern war besonders groß und gut ausgestattet und nur 5 Minuten vom Labor entfernt.
Das Gästehaus „Kanazawa Haus“ war wie ein Bunker gebaut, wo ich kein Erdbeben bemerkt habe, auch wenn im nahegelegenen Labor Flaschen zu Bruch gegangen sind und die Mitarbeiter nicht nach Hause fahren konnten und im Labor übernachten mussten, weil keine Bahn gefahren ist.

Abb. 6: Kobe Medical College 2012, rechts Prof. Motoko Takaoka

Abb. 7: Prof. Dr. Makoto Kimura, ich und mein Master Student aus Berlin

Abb. 8: Prof. Dr. Makoto Kimura, Prof. Dr. Wittmann-Liebold (meine Doktormutter),´Yunko Kimura, Prof. Suiko, Franz Godt (mein Assistent) 2013 in Berlin

2012 folgte die nächste Reise, in Rahmen des JSPS Bridge-Programms, und ich habe neben der Yokohama City University auch die Fukuoka University (Prof. Makoto Kimura), Kobe College (Prof. Takaoka) und die Kobe University (Prof. Isono) besucht. Prof. Kimura hat meine Studierende 2011 in sein Labor in Fukuoka aufgenommen, weil nach der Fukushima Katastrophe die Yokohama-Region wegen der radioaktiven Strahlung unsicher war.

Ich habe 2013 Prof. Kimura nach Berlin eingeladen, wo er an meiner Hochschule Vorträge gehalten und einige Institute in Berlin und Deutschland besucht hat.

2013 wurde ich zu einer internationalen Konferenz in Yokohama eingeladen, HUPO (Human Proteome Organisation). Es sind mehr als 900 Teilnehmer aus der ganzen Welt gekommen.

Vor der Konferenz haben wir noch einen praktischen Weiterbildungskurs für junge japanische Wissenschaftler veranstaltet. Das war die Krönung meiner langjährigen Zusammenarbeit.

Da ich 2014 pensioniert wurde, habe ich meine Kooperationen offiziell beendet. Die Freundschaft jedoch zwischen unseren Kooperationspartnern bleibt erhalten. Prof. Hirano, der auch pensioniert wurde, arbeitet an der privaten Gunma University und Prof. Kimura, auch Pensionär, gibt noch zweimal pro Woche Vorlesungen an der Kyushu University. Auch ich arbeite stundenweise für meine Berliner Hochschule für Technik und zwar als Mitglied des Ältestenrates, Beratergremium des Präsidenten.

Ich bin auch als Leiterin der Regionalgruppe Berlin-Brandenburg des JSPS-Clubs tätig und genieße es immer wieder, neue Mitglieder zu begrüßen, Japaner die in Deutschland arbeiten oder Deutsche, die in Japan gearbeitet haben.

In diesem Jahr sind genau 30 Jahre seit meinem ersten Aufenthalt in Japan und 44 Jahre seit meiner ersten Begegnung mit japanischen Wissenschaftlern vergangen.

Ich habe nur die wichtigsten Stationen meines Berufslebens in Japan erwähnt, aber ich habe viele andere Labore von Okinawa bis Sapporo besucht, meistens als Gast um einen Vortrag zu geben oder an Konferenzen teilzunehmen.

Nebenbei war ich für die DFG und meine Hochschule als Asien-Beraterin tätig und habe viele junge Wissenschaftler und Studierende auf dem Weg nach Japan begleitet.

Ich bin auch privat nach Japan gereist, um meine Tochter in Tokyo zu besuchen. Sie hat zwei Jahre als DAAD-Stipendiatin dort Japanisch gelernt und in einer Werbeagentur gearbeitet.

Die Zusammenarbeit Berlin-Japan hat auch mein ganzes Arbeitsleben geprägt. Die Labore waren sehr weit entfernt, aber die Zusammenarbeit hat schnell und zuverlässig funktioniert, vor allem nach Einführung des Internets. Ich habe in Japan auch gelernt, dass der Zusammenhalt zwischen Chefs und den Mitarbeitenden sehr wichtig ist. Die Arbeit ist Leben und muss angenehm gestaltet werden. Gemeinsame Feiern gehören dazu.

[1] Aus Gründen der Übersichtlichkeit, wird durchgehend das männliche Geschlecht verwendet, auch wenn, je nach Zusammenhang, das weibliche Geschlecht ebenso gemeint ist.



Conscious motor control, Fichte, and robots

by our Club Member 
Dr. Patrick Grüneberg, Kanazawa University

Topics and relevant results
(1) My background is in the philosophy of subjectivity and consciousness. To deepen my understanding of current approaches to cognitive modeling techniques, I joined the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Tsukuba in 2011 to study cognitive modeling techniques and eventually focused on conscious motor control, which is one central topic of the lab. Research by the lab members Prof. Kenji Suzuki (PI) and Prof. Hassan Modar, and Prof. Hideki Kadone from the University of Tsukuba Hospital about the Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) robotic rehabilitation system raises the question of how human agents can consciously (voluntarily) initiate gait motion. In general, the ability to initiate movement of our body is one of the essential features of human agency. Ethical categories such as responsibility and accountability and, therefore, our self-understanding as autonomous agents crucially depend on the subjective efficacy of this ability to act upon the world. HAL is an exoskeleton robot designed to support patients who lost this ability due to stroke, spinal cord injuries, or other neurological diseases. It can be attached to the hips and legs, and its motors provide actuation of the legs and thereby support gait-impaired patients to walk. While numerous exoskeleton robots are worldwide in clinical use, HAL has a unique feature: human biosignals can directly control it. Sensors attached to the leg muscles scan the often remaining but insufficient EMG signals and inform HAL about the user’s intention to move. This information is used to command the robot to provide the necessary actuation. In this way, the user can use their voluntary efforts, which result in gait motion despite the impairment. Experimental and clinical evidence shows that HAL can be effectively used in therapy. However, no theoretical account sufficiently explains this relation between intention, volition, and motor control.

This lack is mainly due to the prevailing “naturalistic-representational” bias in neurosciences, cognitive science, and philosophy. In this view, conscious processes are considered the epiphenomenal results of neural processing. That means that basically non-conscious neural processes provide motor control and produce conscious experience resulting from executed neural motor control. By definition, such a phenomenal echo of neural motor control cannot be efficacious because it succeeds the movement. The HAL scenario, however, shows that the conscious act of gait initiation is responsible for releasing the efferent EMG signals to the leg muscles and thus forces us to reconsider this conscious efficacy. Furthermore, clinical research suggests that the patient’s active participation in the therapeutical process improves the treatment. There exists, thus, ample experimental and clinical evidence for the efficacy of conscious motor control.

In approaching this problem by considering a model of conscious motor control that includes the conscious and biomechanical aspects equally, I am drawing on the methodological groundwork of my doctoral thesis [1]. The late Johann Gottlieb Fichte provided a detailed functional analysis of human subjectivity and consciousness. The results of this analysis are highly formalized and can thereby inform present approaches to cognitive modeling and architectures. To make a contemporary use of Fichte’s ideas, I transform and, if necessary, modify his models. Together with Prof. Suzuki, I made a first attempt to use the transcendental framework to build a model of what he termed subjective computing, an approach to utilize features of human subjectivity, the perceptual process, and human-human interaction for the design of algorithms [2]. This methodological work shows how subjective cognition can be modeled to demonstrate the efficacy and control function of subjective behavior, thus without falling prey to the naturalistic-representational bias.

Regarding HAL and gait initiation, we provided a theoretical framework for the multifunctional integration of initiation and motor programs within conscious motor control [3]. Following this conceptual work, I developed an interview method to learn more about the subjective control strategies patients employ to initiate gait with the help of HAL. The correlation of phenomenal reports gained from patient interviews at the University of Tsukuba Hospital and the subjects’ clinical gait scores provided insights into two subjective control strategies which patients with different degrees of gait impairment use to control their gait function [4]. (A plan to extend this research at the Universitäts-klinikum Bergmannsheil in Bochum is pending due to the pandemic.) This research paved the way to combine phenomenal and biomechanical methods for investigating how conscious motor control relates to physical behavior. We are currently preparing the next experimental setting with healthy subjects to study this relation in more detail. In terms of biomechanical motor control, this work centers on the experimental investigation of the biomechanical characteristics during gait initiation. In terms of conscious motor control, I am working on the cognitive model of gait initiation to explain how subjects consciously control the initial phase of their gait movement. This part draws on several approaches to action consciousness, such as Fichte’s transcendental model of subjectivity, Husserl’s theory of willing, the “sense of agency” paradigm, and enactive theories. Through integrating experimental and conceptual evidence for the physiological efficacy of conscious motor control, the goal is to present a model that goes beyond the common distinctions between physical and mental processes and frames gait initiation equally as a physical and conscious process.

(2) Besides my work on conscious motor control, I am still engaged in Fichte research, which provides the groundwork for my approach. Besides an ongoing reading group where we study the late Fichte’s philosophy, I translated together with Prof. Takao Suzuki (Seisen University) an introduction to Fichte’s philosophy into Japanese [5]. I am also a board member of the Japanese Fichte Society.

(3) Following a discussion of robot ethics in Japan and Germany during a course I taught in 2015, I engaged in STS (Science and Technology Studies) research. Together with Dr. Susanne Brucksch (DIJ Tokyo) and Dr. Cosima Wagner (Freie Universität Berlin), I investigated the possibilities and limitations of human-robot interaction (HRI) in social scenarios. Beyond the typical attitude that the Japanese love robots and that HRI solves any kind of problem, our interest was to understand how humans would, if at all, have to connect with robots to benefit from this interaction. On the one hand, the therapeutical HAL setting presents a beneficial case of HRI [6]. However, on the other hand, social interactions are much more complicated. In a series of interviews with stakeholders from the fields of childcare, care of the elderly, and care of the disabled, we came to the understanding that the perspectives for using any kind of robotic or AI-based technology are still highly limited and the current state of these technologies is far from serving the needs of the care-recipients and caregivers. Instead of pushing the technological development without clearly understanding what kind of technology may be helpful, it appears necessary to better understand human subjectivity and consciousness and the specific needs of the potential users of such technologies before entering a technical design process.

I received a Dissertation Publication Award from the VG Wort for my doctoral thesis in 2013 and the Award for Young Scientists of the Japanese Fichte Society in 2017 for a paper on the relation between perception and action [7].

Patrick Grüneberg is an associate professor for philosophy at the Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (Kanazawa University) and visiting researcher at the Center for Cybernics Research (University of Tsukuba).

[1] Projektives Bewusstsein. Th. Metzingers Selbstmodelltheorie und J.G. Fichtes Wissenschaftslehre. Münster: mentis, 2013.
[2] P. Grüneberg and K. Suzuki, “An Approach to Subjective Computing: a Robot that Learns from Interaction with Humans,” IEEE Transactions on Autonomous Mental Development, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 5–18, Mar. 2014, doi: 10.1109/TAMD.2013.2271739.
[3] P. Grüneberg, H. Kadone, and K. Suzuki, “Voluntary Initiation of Movement: Multifunctional Integration of Subjective Agency,” Front. Psychol., vol. 6, p. 688, 2015, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00688.
[4] P. Grüneberg, H. Kadone, N. Kuramoto, T. Ueno, Y. Hada, M. Yamazaki, Y. Sankai, K. Suzuki, “Robot-assisted voluntary initiation reduces control-related difficulties of initiating joint movement: A phenomenal questionnaire study on shaping and compensation of forward gait,” PLOS ONE, vol. 13, no. 3, p. e0194214, Mar. 2018, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0194214.
[5] 崇夫 鈴木, グリューネベルクパトリック (訳者), ヴィルヘルム・G ヤコプス (著者), フィヒテ入門講義. 東京: 筑摩書房、2021.
[6] P. Grüneberg, “Empowering Patients in Interactive Unity with Machines: Engineering the HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) Robotic Rehabilitation System,” in Humans and Devices in Medical Contexts. Case Studies from Japan, S. Brucksch and K. Sasaki, Eds. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, pp. 255–280, doi: 10.1007/978-981-33-6280-10.
[7] グリューネベルクパトリック, “抵抗の像における行為―行為の投影における世界の思量,” フィヒテ研究, vol. 24, pp. 56–67, 2016.


Our new board member Aiko Möhwald

by Board Member Aiko Möhwald

Aiko Möhwald studied Sport Science at the University of Freiburg. She obtained her PhD degree in 2018 at the TU Dortmund University.

In her PhD thesis, she examined the educational potential of the contents of the concept “Intercultural Movement Education” (IME) for students in Physical Education (PE). Using mainly video data, Aiko Möhwald analysed students’ observable and verbal dealing processes with the specific content in accordance with the guidelines of IME in PE. The qualitative approach enabled her to systematize students’ handling strategies as well as the discussions in PE classes. The management of verbal discussions in PE classes is one identified challenge for educators and should be addressed more intensively in the future. Therefore, a training concept for the promotion of “reflection competence” of professionals in the context of sport and exercise was developed.

In the project “Perceived obesity, physical activity and quality of life in childhood”, the phenomenon of body (dis-)satisfaction in childhood and adolescence and the role of sport and exercise are also described and examined using different theoretical perspectives. The purpose of the quantitative, longitudinal scientific monitoring is to investigate the development of body image from childhood to adolescence and the importance of the sport context.

In a current interview study, Aiko Möhwald is researching the subjective views of PE from the perspective of transgender students since PE as a compulsory body-related subject could be a particularly neuralgic context for development processes. As a German representative of the German Society for Sport Science (dvs), Aiko Möhwald was asked to take part in the conference of the Japan Society of Physical Education, Health and Sport Sciences (JSPEHSS) in August 2022 in Chiba.

Since the beginning of her scientific career, Aiko Möhwald has been internationally orientated. She has been in close contact with Prof. Yoshinori Okade, a renowned Japanese sports pedagogue since 2014. During her research stay at the University of Tsukuba, which was supported by the JSPS Summer Program, she became familiar with the training programme named “Lesson Study”, which is anchored in Japanese schools. In a joint paper, Prof. Okade and Dr. Möhwald introduced the concept and discussed the derivations and potential of the Japanese Lesson Study for the German context.

After her stay in Japan, she structurally anchored the cooperation with the University of Tsukuba at the faculty level in both University of Freiburg and TU Dortmund University. This cooperation agreement made it possible for German students to take part in the one-week Summer School “Tsukuba Summer Institute”. In TU Dortmund University, Aiko Möhwald was responsible for the Japanese-German exchange and in 2017, 2018 and 2019, students from TU Dortmund University took part in the Summer School in Tsukuba.

The general assembly of the 25th Japanese-German Symposium in Berlin agreed to an increase of the number of board members from the former 7 to as many as 9. Aiko Möhwald was then by decision of the board co-opted to the board of the JSPS Club. She will primarily take care of public relations and has already created a new Instagram account for the JSPS Club:



Our new member Kanazawa University

by Kanazawa University Liaison Office

In September 2018, Kanazawa University opened the Kanazawa Liaison Office at Heinrich Heine University (HHU) Düsseldorf. Its main goals were to strengthen the cooperation of both medical faculties and to establish a PhD-Double-Degree-Program. The office was initially located at HHU´s Japanese Studies Department, were Prof. Hiroyuki Nakamura (Kanazawa University) as head of the project found support of Prof. Shingo Shimada, who had good ties to Kanazawa University as well as the staff at Düsseldorf. Supervising the office at HHU, Prof. Shimada immediately found support of Prof. Heiner Fangerau, Director of the “Department of the History, Philosophy and Ethics of Medicine”.

Over time, two most promising groups between Kanazawa and Düsseldorf became evident, which now are the main pillars of the cooperation. Prof. Nakamura and Prof. Takamura found partners in their particular field of research at HHU in Dr. Tamara Schikowski from the “Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine” (IUF) and Prof. Michael Roden, director of the “German Diabetes Centre (DDZ)”.

Figure: Group photo of 2nd symposium on “Advanced preventive Medicine”

Four symposia on “Advanced Preventive Medicine” with members of Kanazawa, Düsseldorf, Nagasaki and Chiba Universities have been held with great success, although, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the last two had to have been arranged as videoconferences. In spite of the Covid-19 crisis, negotiations concerning the PhD-Double-Degree-Program continued and a contract between Kanazawa University and HHU is nearly finalised. Prof. Atsuchi Tajima (Kanazawa University), Prof. Nakamura, and Prof. Fangerau conduct monthly video calls to discuss final alterations. The next big step will be a first research visitor from Kanazawa University at HHU. Although current circumstances are still quite uncertain, Dr. Keita Suzuki will hopefully be able to be the first researcher from Kanazawa to visit HHU this year.

In 2022, with strong bonds between both medical faculties established, the Kanazawa Liaison Office at HHU´s Japanese Studies Department has been closed and communications will gradually be transferred to the DDZ under Prof. Roden´s supervision. 


Our new member Dr. Kai Nitzsche

by Club Member Kai Nitzsche, Yokosuka

Dr. Kai Nitzsche obtained his PhD in 2017 in Agricultural Sciences at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. From August 2017, he conducted his JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship nominated through the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto. Since April 2020, he is postdoctoral fellow at the Japan Agency for Marine Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) in Yokosuka.

He sees himself as environmental scientist who specializes in the physical, chemical, and biological drivers behind elemental cycles of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems using isotopic markers. To date, he has gained experience that has led to thorough knowledge of hard rock geochemistry, sediment geochemistry, terrestrial and partly aquatic biogeochemistry, and stream ecology.

During his JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship at the RIHN, he worked on streams in the Lake Biwa catchment, central Japan. He used novel metal isotopes to show linkages between the lithological facies in the catchment of streams with stream macroinvertebrates and small gobies, and he studied the potential of metal isotopes as new tool in stream food webs.

During his present Postdoctoral Fellowship at JAMSTEC, he uses a combination of novel zinc stable isotopes, geochemical data, and sequential extractions on sediment cores to reconstruct the metal pollution history from freshwater lakes (Lake Biwa) and coastal areas (Osaka Bay, Tokyo Bay).



Crossing the Borders to Modernity. Fictional Characters as Representations of Alternative Concepts of Life in Meiji Literature (1868–1912)

Editors: Prof. Stephan Köhn, Dr. Chantal Weber (Club Members), Cologne, Institute of Japanese Studies
2022, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, Book (Paperback), 356 pages, English
ISBN: 978-3-447-11803-3
Weitere Informationen auf den Webseiten der Japanologie Köln und den Seiten des Verlags.

The Meiji period (1868–1912) was a time of great political, economic, and social changes. Japan’s new government transformed the former feudalistic state into a modern nation that would soon catch up with the Western world. However, this process of modernization also brought fundamental changes for the individual and affected virtually all aspects of everyday life. For those who questioned the benefits of Japan’s rapid transformation, the Meiji period was a time in which they had to cross borders – borders between different cultures and epochs, and borders within society itself. Since the fractions and challenges caused by these processes of border-crossing are encapsulated in the fictional texts of that period, a thorough re-reading of Meiji literature can become a powerful means with which to reconstruct both hegemonic and alternative discourses of life during the Meiji period.

This volume aims to analyze how a representative selection of Meiji authors positioned themselves in their writings, in terms of these fundamental changes. The contributors to this book seek to illustrate the numerous strategies of characterization and character constellation employed by these authors. The papers of this volume will not only deal with the fictional portrayal of the crossing of borders, but also with the fictional description of those who cross borders, those who are caught between tradition and modernity, between East and West and between different social groups. Crossing the borders to modernity offered both an opportunity and a challenge for literary characters as well as contemporary authors and readers; to find their place in Meiji society. This publication was part of the DFG-funded project “Literarische Figuren in frühen Texten des japanischen Autors Nagai Kafû (1879-1959)”, lead by Prof. Dr. Stephan Köhn and is based on an international conference which was held in 2020.

Remembrance – Responsibility – Reconciliation. Challenges for Education in Germany and Japan

Edited by Lothar Wigger (Club-Member), and Marie Dirnberger
Part of the book series: Kindheit – Bildung – Erziehung. Philosophische Perspektiven
2022, Berlin/ Heidelberg: J.B. Metzler. Softcover, 178 pages
ISBN: 978-3-662-64184-2
eBook ISBN: 978-3-662-64185-9

Germany and Japan have taken different ways of dealing with the past of the traumatic events of World War II and their own role. Even after 75 years, the battles for remembrance are not over in both countries. Questions about responsibility, about the educational consequences of history and about possibilities for reconciliation with former enemies are constantly being asked anew and require new answers. The contributions in the book address these questions from a Japanese and German perspective on the basis of empirical and historical research, combining historical, educational, and philosophical approaches and opening up new perspectives for academic research as well as for practical educational work by comparing the cultures of remembrance. The contributions in this volume are almost all based on the international conference “Remembrance - Responsibility - Reconciliation. New Challenges for Education in Germany and Japan” on October 01 and 02, 2019 at Sophia University in Tokyo, organized and chaired by Sven Saaler and Lothar Wigger. Although the topics were presented in relation to Japan and Germany respectively, it became clear again and again in the reciprocal references and the subsequent discussions that the issues and problems addressed in dealing with the past are not limited to the respective country, but are general challenges to be discussed scientifically, which ultimately concern the entire 'world community' in a globalized world.

Accessing Technical Education in Modern Japan

Editors: Erich Pauer & Regine Mathias 2022
Folkestone: Renaissance Books, 445 pages#
ISBN: 978-1-912961-25-2

Schooling and education in Japan have been the subject of a great number of studies, including those in Western countries. It is surprising, however, that for Japan, which has enjoyed for a long time an excellent reputation as a technologically advanced country, questions about the basis of this technological performance and how it was achieved have hardly been answered. Technology has hardly been taken into account in relevant studies on the economy and the education system.

In this respect, there are many factors that need to be examined more closely. Who was interested in technical subjects at the beginning of the Meiji period? How was technical education conducted, how did it influence technical development, what were its forms and contents? The two volumes of the new publication by CEEJA (Centre Européen d’Études Japonaises d’Alsace), in collaboration with Renaissance Books on Accessing Technical Education in Modern Japan presented here, attempt for the first time to provide a comprehensive overview in English of the various facets of technical education in modern Japan.

The 14 articles were originally presented in 2019 at the Second International Conference on the History of Japanese Technology, titled “Knowledge on the Move” at CEEJA (Centre Européen dÉtudes Japonaises d’Alsace), in Colmar, Alsace, France. They shed light on the different ways used to acquire and transmit technical knowledge in Japan from the middle of the 19th to the early 20th century. This ranges from the first attempts to acquire technical education by translating foreign textbooks and manuals to the institutionalization of a technical education at different levels, from technical colleges to technical or vocational schools with modern technology-oriented curricula.

The editors hope that this book will encourage historians, historians of technology, and scholars from other disciplines to consider this important aspect of Japan's modern development, and to increasingly include Japan in their deliberations as a matter of course. The editors hope that this work will be of interest to those seeking to understand Japan's technological development and its educational foundations.

Finally, we would like to point out that the two volumes are a continuation of the study on Technical Knowledge in Early Modern Japan which appeared at Renaissance Books in 2020.


Representations of the Club on External Events

  • 09.06.2022: Vortrag zum deutschen Vereinsrecht, DAAD Alumniverein | Katja Kölkebeck
  • 13.04.2022 und 29.06.2022: Vertretung von Heinrich Menkhaus im Koordinationsausschuss der Deutschen Botschaft | Wolfgang Staguhn


New Club Members

  • Maximilan Sommer
    Universität Stuttgart
    JAXA 2017*
  • Dr. Felix Feiten
    ASML Berlin
    Hokkaido University 2016–2018*
  • Prof. Dr. Atsushi Hayakawa
    Akita Prefecture University

* research stay in Japan founded by JSPS/STA


Upcoming Events

  • 25.08.2022 (evening): Assembly of Regionalgruppe Rhein-Ruhr for a Japanese dinner in Düsseldorf
  • 25.10.2022 (evening): Zoom lecture on Japanese politics by Prof. Axel Klein from In:EAST Institute of Duisburg-Essen University
  • 18./19.11.2022: “Mitglieder laden Mitglieder ein” at TU Ilmenau. Invitation by Prof. Stefan Krischok

If you would like to publish articles on events, publications, please contact us via e-mail. We are looking forward to your articles.



Deutsche Gesellschaft der JSPS-Stipendiaten e.V.
Redaktion: Prof. Dr. Katja Kölkebeck
Mitarbeit: Dr. Meike Albers-Meindl
Deutsche Gesellschaft der JSPS-Stipendiaten e.V.
c/o JSPS Bonn Office, Ahrstr. 58, 53175 Bonn
Tel.: 0228/375050, Fax: 0228/957777

Die in den Beiträgen geäußerten Ansichten geben nicht
unbedingt die Meinung des Herausgebers wieder.

European Focus Day 2024
Tokyo | June 6, 2024

Regional Group Meeting in Northern Germany
Hamburg | June 22, 2024

JSPS Club Chairman Prof. Dr. Heinrich Menkhaus is awarded the “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette” (旭日小綬章) of the Japanese Government in 2024.

Club member Prof. Dr. Uwe Czarnetzki is awarded the “Plasma Materials Science Hall of Fame Prize” in March of 2024.

Club member Prof. Dr. med. Tanja Fehm is awarded the “Klüh Foundation Award” 2023

Neues vom Club 03/2023