President’s Message

 Masamine Jimba
Masamine Jimba, MD, MPH, PhD
President of the Japan Association for International Health,
Professor, Department of Community and Global Health in the University of Tokyo

The Japan Association for International Health was established in 1986. In the 1980s, the term ‘international health’ or ‘global health’ was not popular. However, since then, global health gained much more popularity in Japan and other countries.

Rather than arguing about what global health is or should be, let me start by going back to 1986, or 33 years ago, when our association was established, and when global health used to be comparatively a modest topic. To understand the original spirit of Japanese pioneers of global health, I would first like to quote a message from a Japanese philosopher, Kiyoshi Miki (1897-1945), who is sometimes known as a "central figure in the Japanese humanistic movement."

100 years ago, in 1919, Miki wrote an essay article titled ‘Reticent philosophy.’ (Miki K. Notes on How to Live. Kadokawa Pub, 2017, pp173-266) He was a student of philosophy in Kyōto Imperial University and was only 23 years old when he wrote it. Below is a quote from the beginning part of his essay. I intentionally replaced the key word ‘philosophy’ with ‘global health’.

“Pedantic global health is well taught and discussed in the classroom, emphasizing its clear logic and precise thought. Reticent global health, on the other hand, puts emphasis on confession, and tries not to lose a pure mind and humble spirit. Pedantic global health is appreciated by being read by many people and applauded. Reticent global health, on the other hand, seeks to be deeply understood by a small number of compassionate people. It is different from pedantic global health as it does not like behaviors such as showing off the findings and selling their names in public. This is because the essence of reticent global health lies in its deepness rather than in sharpness, and in purity rather than in smartness.”

Miki went on and later classified philosophers into three types. Philosophers with a smart brain. Philosophers with a high spirit. Great philosophers who have both.

Let me show you what he wrote about these three types. This time, I’ll leave the word ‘philosophy’ as he wrote.
“Pedantic philosophers have a smart brain but lacks in spirit…They are eloquent and pile up many publications…but unfortunately, they lack in spirit to deepen what they have written. They are good at surprising audiences, but not good at inspiring them. …in contrast, those philosophers who have a high spirit have deep passion for something eternal…they raise people’s spirit up as well as their own…but their philosophy may lack in rigor, in logic and details between factors. Still, their philosophy cannot help but inspire people... Finally, great philosophers are those who have both conditions, and highly harmonize them in a beautiful manner. What I really want is not knowing more about what philosophy is, but living in philosophy.

You may now replace ‘philosophy’ with ‘global health,’ and ‘philosopher’ with ‘global health professionals’ in his essay.

In 1986, this association was created by the Japanese global health professionals with high spirits, the second type. Now in 2019, 33 years after its birth, global health is a very popular field and many young people passionately knock on its door, carrying high spirits. How can we work well with them and grow together? What kind of pathway is waiting for us and how can we grow better by taking an appropriate pathway?

For this, it is worth reading and rereading the message above from Kiyoshi Miki. Even after 100 years, his message is still holding true for us. Why don’t we receive his words sincerely and let’s hope to live in global health as he did so in philosophy.

 
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