Message from the Chairman
Founder and Chairman
STS forum, Science and Technology in Society forum, was founded in 2004 by Koji Omi, a former Minister of Finance and former Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy and for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs in the Japanese government. STS forum aims to provide a new mechanism for open discussions on an informal basis and to build a human network that would, in time, resolve the new challenges stemming from the application of science and technology. STS forum community also explores opportunities arising from science and technology and addresses how to remove barriers by using science and technology to solve the problems facing humankind.
The rapid progress of science and technology has brought economic growth and enriched the quality of our lives on the one hand. However, the advance of science and technology has raised important ethical, safety and environmental issues: possible negative applications are threatening humankind’s own future. We call these “the lights and shadows of science and technology”: we must develop the lights and control the shadows.
STS forum focuses on many aspects of science and technology in society: for example, technological development in genomics like genome engineering and iPS cell technology; energy and environmental issues including the nuclear power option; and ICT and social changes and related privacy and security issues.
Because the problems we face today are becoming increasingly complex, the scientific community alone cannot control these problems and also, they are beyond the control of any single country. Thus, it is essential that not only professional scientists like scholars and researchers, but also policymakers, and business leaders from all over the world gather and discuss these science and technology issues from the long-term perspective, i.e. 100 to 500 years, for the future of the humankind.
This is the fundamental concept of STS forum, where global leaders meet for three days at the forum’s Annual Meeting in Kyoto, starting on the first Sunday of October. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Honorary Chairman of STS forum, attends the Annual Meeting every year. Other prominent leaders including Nobel Laureates attending in recent years have included the prime ministers of France, Sri Lanka, and Slovenia, and the deputy prime minister of the Russian Federation.
In 2017, 1,400 leaders from 80 countries and regions, including 15 Nobel Laureates, met in Kyoto. In addition to ten plenary sessions and thirty concurrent sessions under eight themes, eleven side meetings, including the Science Ministers’ Round Table, the University Presidents’ Meeting, CEO and CTO Meetings were held, attended by 20 ministers, 27 university presidents, 18 CEOs and 35 CTOs.
The STS forum launched a “Dialogue between Future Leaders and Nobel Laureates” in 2015, and in 2017, 133 future leaders enjoyed stimulating discussions with 15 Nobel Laureates. The STS forum will continue to contribute to fostering younger leaders in various fields by inviting them to our networking opportunities in Kyoto and other locations.
The STS forum is also active in organizing outreach activities in the form of workshops. In 2017, three workshops were held: an ASEAN Workshop in Bali, an EU Workshop in Brussels, and an India Workshop in Delhi.
Now in its second decade, the STS forum has grown from a mere conference into a movement for global leaders to address science and technology-related issues for the future of humankind. We hope that many world leaders will join the STS forum Annual Meeting in Kyoto in order to “PAVE THE WAY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS.”
Koji Omi was born in 1932 in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. After graduation from Hitotsubashi University in 1956, he joined the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). On an assignment with MITI, he served as Consul at the Japanese Consulate in New York from 1970 to 1974. He established his reputation for proactive action in acquiring up-to-date world energy related information during the first oil shock in 1973.
After assuming various key posts at MITI, such as Director of the South Asia & Eastern Europe Division, Trade Policy Bureau, and Director of the Small Enterprise Policy Division, Small & Medium Enterprise Agency (S & MEA), Koji Omi resigned from MITI in 1982 to run for the House of Representatives (lower house). He was elected in 1983 for the No.1 Gunma district with the largest number of votes won by a new independent candidate. During his 26 years of service until August 2009 in the House, Koji Omi held prominent positions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and served three times as Cabinet Member namely Minister of Finance (2006 – 2007), Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs (2001-2002), and Minister of State for Economic Planning (1997 – 1998).
Koji Omi is considered a key political figure and one of the most influential in the field of science and technology in Japan. One of his achievements includes the central role he played in enacting the Fundamental Law of Science and Technology in 1995. This law has contributed greatly toward making Japan a science and technology-oriented nation. As Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, and for Science and Technology, Koji Omi advocated for, and was very influential in promoting, the founding of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, an international and interdisciplinary graduate university. In 2004 he founded the Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum, a non-profit organization, with the aim of building a worldwide network among scientists, policy makers, business people and journalists. STS forum has been successfully held annually in Kyoto, Japan, to discuss the “lights and shadows” of science and technology for the sake of humankind.
Koji Omi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science Policy & Technology by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in 2013 and another honorary doctorate from University of York in January 2014, and from University of Quebec in June 2014.