Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine

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Minoru Irahara, Chairperson of the Executive Board

On Being Reelected to the Post of Chair

June 2016

I have been reappointed as Chair at the general meeting of members and new Executive Board held in June 2016. As such, I will be serving as the Chair of these meetings for two more years. I would like to express my appreciation for this great honor and will do my utmost to ensure that I can meet your expectations and fulfill this great responsibility.

In looking back on the past two years, it was a time when I felt expectations toward reproductive medicine growing. This, because of the societal needs of an age with a dwindling birthrate and the higher ages of mothers giving birth.

At the same time, I cannot help feeling great surprise at the unexpectedly fast speed and spread of medical technologies, and the progressing borderlessness of medicine. Constant advancements are truly being made in the development of reproductive medicine and medical care.

It is estimated that instances of the implementation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) exceeded 400,000 cases in Japan in 2015. The clinical application of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is now becoming a real possibility. We have entered an age in which the future adoption of genome editing is starting to come into sight.

On the other hand, I feel that the current environment in which reproductive medicine and medical care are placed is far from being favorable. The progression of declining birthrates leads to a decrease in the number of patients of an age capable of procreation. Because of this, there is a possibility that the current system for reproductive medicine will be scaled back. Of additional concern is the dwindling number of young leaders in the field of reproductive medicine, which, in the past, was an interdisciplinary science based on endocrinology. What is more, there is concern of chaos in the medical environment, including issues related to bioethics and commercialism.

As covered in my words on first assuming my post two years ago, my basic way of thinking as Chairperson is to nurture human resources and to promote the development of research in reproductive medicine in Japan. Six specific issues were identified at the time for use in the operation of the Society. Although efforts have been made, we are still only half done in regards to many of the issues. While reflecting on this point, I would like to work with the board members serving as Society leadership and put even more effort into this.

First, in terms of the sound management of the Society, I believe that the establishment of a financial footing is important. As the tasks of the secretariat diversified in order to enrich member services, we were forced to make the difficult decision of raising our membership dues for the first time in 42 years. The last time was in 1974. We will, of course, continue to promote the streamlining of our overall operations so that healthy financial operations can continue into the future.

Next, nurturing human resources who will engage in research on reproductive medicine is something linked to reform of the specialist doctors' system.

We would like to establish high requirement standards in relation to training facilities for future specialist doctors, the quality of residents and accreditation criteria. Preparations will be carried out while carefully considering the balance between research and medical treatment. Additionally, I believe that boosting the English journal in which the results of research are published is a critical issue that must be dealt with.

In regards to medical care, I believe that legislation related to assisted reproductive medicine—which requires the involvement of a third party—will move forward in the near future after the delays that have been caused due to various circumstances. We will work as one to ensure that such legislation will take root firmly in Japan and become something with significance. At the same time, we would like to review the reproductive medicine delivery system, inclusive of ART.

In terms of global aspects, we hosted the International Federation of Fertility Societies' IFFS/JSRM International Meeting 2015 at Pacifico, Yokohama in April last year. It ended in success thanks to the wonderful support of our members, for which I would like to thank you once again. We would like to make our collaboration with other societies even closer so that Japan may fulfill its role as a leading country in Asia. We will work toward even greater mobilization and make Japan's presence in the field of reproductive medicine unshakable.

Contributing to society is also an important issue for the Society going forward. We will communicate realities related to reproductive medicine by enriching our PR activities and open lectures for the public. We will carry out proactive dissemination of information that will provide an even better understanding of the future of better medical care.

As you can see, there are still many unresolved issues that must be tackled. With this reappointment, I will leverage my experience up to now and work to fulfill my mission as Chairperson over the next two years to re-facilitate our efforts toward solutions.

Last year, the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine reached a major milestone of 60 years since its establishment. With the efforts of our predecessors during that time, we became a core medical society in Japan in reproductive medicine.

More than 30 years have passed since assisted reproductive medicine achieved success for the first time in Japan. We have since become one of the world's advanced countries in assisted reproductive technologies. However, reproductive medicine and medical care are at a major turning point in Japan. We will not be able to continue existing without reform.

I would like to promote reform without becoming complacent of our past success so that we can continue meeting, for the next 30 years as well, the expectations of the Japanese people as a core medical facility in reproductive medicine and medical care.

I would like to ask our JSRM members for their continued warm support and cooperation with our efforts.

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