Activities in Japan Arising from the International Year of Light

By . Published on 22 March 2016 in:
March 2016, News,

This article is part of a series of contributions from the AAPPS and can be found here.


In 2014, three Japanese scientists (Akasaki, Amano, Nakamura) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This event has attracted the attention of the Japanese public to the importance of light. Coincidentally, the 2015 International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) began relatively soon thereafter (ref. 1). To further publicize the importance of light and light-based technologies to the general public, the ICO (International Commission for Optics) Division of the Committee on Comprehensive Synthetic Engineering in the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), which is the ICO Territorial Committee of Japan, took the role of presiding over the activities of the International Year of Light 2015 in Japan (IYL2015-Japan), in cooperation with international organizations such as IYL 2015, the ICO, the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE).

The ICO Division of SCJ launched the Council of IYL2015-Japan and invited various organizations to become council members as well as promotion partners. Council members are the organizations that support IYL 2015 and the promotion partners are the organizations that contribute funds to IYL2015-Japan. The Council of IYL2015-Japan set up a website (ref. 2) and collected information regarding events and activities in Japan. This Japanese website then guides the event organizers to the website of IYL 2015 event program (ref. 3) as well. Due largely to the guidance of the Japanese website, many activities in Japan have now been successfully registered in the IYL 2015 event program, though not all the IYL2015-Japan activities have been transferred, to date.

Members and events

Number a)

Council members (total)
   Academic societies
   Universities, Research institutes
   Industries, others
Promotion partners
Registered events
   IYL2015-Japan website b)
   IYL 2015 event program c)



Table I: The number of council members, promotion partners, and registered events of IYL2015-Japan. Many events are registered in both the IYL2015-Japan website and the event program of IYL 2015. The number of future events is included.
a) as of Aug. 26, 2015. b) ref. 2. c) ref. 3.

Table I shows the number of council members, promotion partners, and registered events of IYL2015-Japan. The council members and promotion partners are composed of academic societies, universities, research institutes, industries, and other entities such as local governments. Collected information is represented in ref. 1, and further details of their activities can be found through the links in the website. Thus, this report will be focused on: (1) the activities by the ICO Division of SCJ presiding over IYL2015-Japan, and; (2) the activities of the two AAPPS member societies in Japan, namely the Physical Society of Japan (JPS) and the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP).


Commemorative Ceremony and Forum

On Apr. 21, 2015 the ICO Division of SCJ, which has been designated as the ICO Territorial Committee of Japan, organized the Commemorative Ceremony of IYL2015-Japan at Yasuda Auditorium of the University of Tokyo. At the ceremony, the official commencement of IYL 2015 in Japan was officially declared. IYL2015-Japan aims to provide the various communities of science and engineering related to light in Japan opportunities to network and to promote the importance of light to the general public, including young children and students.

Fig. 1 shows a photo of the commemorative ceremony. The auditorium was fully packed with about 1,300 participants. The participants included not only researchers from Japanese universities, research institutes, and various industries but also many high school students, government officials from MEXT (the ministry of education, culture, sports, science and technology) and several other funding agencies. Plenary lectures covered various aspects of light, such as the “science of light,” “light and cosmos,” and “light and design.” Finally, Prof. Amano, a 2014 Nobel laureate, delivered a special plenary lecture to encourage more young students to become involved in science, and in particular, science involving light. The variety of topics presented at the ceremony conveyed a sense of the richness of light to the audience.

At the end of 2015, a Commemorative Forum of IYL 2015-Japan is planned by SCJ.

Fig. 1: Commemorative Ceremony at Yasuda Auditorium, the University of Tokyo held on Apr. 21, 2015.

IYL2015-Japan Pamphlet

To publicize IYL 2015, an informative pamphlet and a special plastic clear folder were beautifully designed by the ICO Division of SCJ (Fig. 2). They have been distributed to numerous participants at the IYL2015-Japan events and they have been receiving favorable recognition. The pamphlet explains to the public that the year 2015 coincides with the anniversaries of important milestones in the history of light, including the works on optics by Ibn Al-Haytham in 1015, Einstein’s general relativity in 1915, Kao’s proposal of optical fibers in 1965, together with the recent Nobel Prize winning achievements by the Japanese scientists concerning light. It introduces the works of Al-Haytham, whose work has been relatively unknown to the public in Japan, and it also mentions the ugly fact that over a billion people in the world still stay in darkness after sunset.

Fig. 2: Photos of the IYL2015-Japan pamphlet and clear plastic folder.


The Physical Society of Japan (JPS) and the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP) are both promotion partners of the Council of IYL2015-Japan. These two academic societies strongly support the goals of IYL 2015. They have been actively organizing special lectures, symposia, and public lectures during their annual meetings. They have also hosted international conferences. Articles concerning IYL 2015 will be published in their membership journals, Butsuri and Oyo Butsuri. Some of the activities by JPS and JSAP are listed in TableII and III, respectively.

JPS 70th Annual Meeting (2015) Plenary Lecture: “The Physics of Blue LEDs and Future Prospects,”
“Inflationary Cosmology,” Mar. 21, 2015, Waseda University.

Public Lecture at JPS 70th Annual Meeting: “General Relativity One Hundred Years
and the International Year of Light 2015 – Space and Time -,” Mar. 21, 2015, Masaru Ibuka
Auditorium – International Conference Center.

Science Seminar: “Physics and Light – Fundamentals and Frontier Research of Light -,”
Aug. 20 – 21, 2015, the University of Tokyo.

Butsuri (Membership journal of JPS) Special Series To International Year of Light 2015,
Butsuri, vol. 70, No. 8, 10, 11, 12 (2015).

Table II: Some of the activities related to light hosted by the Physical Society of Japan (JPS).


The 62nd JSAP Spring Meeting 2015, Nobel Laureates Special Lectures by Professors
I. Akasaki, H. Amano, and S. Nakamura, Mar. 13, 2015, Tokai University.

Oyo Butsuri (Membership journal of JSAP): “Report of International Year of Light 2015 Opening
Ceremony,” Oyo Butsuri, vol. 84, No. 3 (2015).

Oyo Butsuri (Membership journal of JSAP): Special Feature Articles on International Year
of Light 2015 (tentative), Oyo Butsuri, vol. 84, No. 11 (2015).

Table III: Some of the activities related to light hosted by the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP).

Research works related to light and light-based technologies are also a large part of JPS and JSAP. For JPS, light has a strong relation with astrophysics and general relativity. JPS has also covered the fields of optical physics, lasers, and plasmas. At JSAP, optics and photonics are very active areas. Many presentations concerning optical devices, lasers, medical applications of light were contributed in JSAP academic meetings. JPS and JSAP, including their regional chapters and divisions, have held a number of events ranging from cutting-edge research presentations to public lectures in this Year of Light. In particular, there were special lectures by the Nobel laureates of physics 2014 at their annual meetings, which were enthusiastically supported by roughly 1,100 participants in JPS and 3,000 participants in JSAP. The number of participants could have been larger but was limited by the capacity of the venues.


In Japan, numerous academic societies, universities, research institutes, industries and other organizations have strongly supported the activities and programs of the International Year of Light. Over a hundred events and activities are so far registered in the website of IYL2015-Japan. Many of these events have immensely contributed to the overall registration of the IYL 2015 event program. The ICO Territorial Committee of Japan presides over the commemorative ceremonies and summarizes the activities of Japan through the website. JPS, JSAP, and many other academic societies and organizations that were not mentioned in this article due to the limitations of space here are actively engaged in various events highlighting the important role of light. We expect that interest and understanding of light in Japan will be substantially enhanced after the International Year of Light 2015.

Acknowledgements: The author is grateful to Prof. Yasuhiko Fujii, the president of JPS, for providing the detailed information regarding the activities of JPS. Much gratitude should also go to Prof. Yasuhiko Arakawa, the president of ICO and the chair the ICO Territorial Committee of Japan, for his strong leadership in the IYL 2015 activities of Japan. The financial support of the various promotion partners that have assisted in the actualization of various events and ceremonies, and the production of IYL2015-Japan pamphlets, is sincerely acknowledged.


[1] IYL 2015 website:
[2] IYL2015-Japan website:

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