The Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan, Inc

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History of the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan, Inc.

From the Society's Establishment through World War II

1) Launch of oto-rhino-laryngology as an independent discipline, and of the Tokyo Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society

Hidegoro Kanasugi returned from Germany in April 1892 and began practicing otology and rhino-laryngology from May of that year at Tokyo Hospital, which was then being managed by the naval surgeon Kanehiro Takagi. Kanasugi began lecturing on otology and rhino-laryngology at the Tokyo Jikei Hospital Medical School that September. The next year, Kanasugi formed the Tokyo Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society together with seven other medical professionals on February 19, 1893, and this Tokyo society was the beginning of today's Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan, Inc.

The first general meeting of the Tokyo society took place on October 28, 1893 at Fujimiken in Kojimachi, Tokyo, with Kanasugi serving as the president. Then in November 1984 Kanasugi founded the Oto-Rhino-Laryngology Research Institute and began publishing Oto-Rhino-Laryngology Journal, which formed the basis for our Society's present journal.

During the regular and special general meeting of the Tokyo society held at the Tokyo Kenbikyoin Foundation located in Ogawamachi, Kanda, on January 17, 1897, a decision was made to change the group's name to the Dainippon Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society in anticipation of the organization's future growth. That May, various revisions were made to the Society's regulations, including changing the Society's leadership structure from a presidential to a board system, and efforts were launched to develop a nationwide membership. The Society retained this name - the Dainippon Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society -for the next 47 years up through its 47th general meeting, which was held in 1943.

2) Establishment of oto-rhino-laryngology courses and systematization of oto-rhino-laryngology as an academic discipline

On November 10, 1899 the government issued an Imperial Ordinance that an oto-rhino-laryngology course of study be established following the forensic medicine course in the Imperial University Medical College. Accordingly, on January 19, 1900, Associate Professor Waichiro Okada, who had just returned from his oto-rhino-laryngology research studies in Germany in December, established an oto-rhino-laryngology course at Tokyo Imperial University. Okada was appointed as the first full professor of the University on March 31, 1902, oto-rhino-laryngology became a required subject for the graduation exam, and the field of oto-rhino-laryngology thus finally began to thrive as an independent discipline in Japan, in both name and deed.

3) Growth of oto-rhino-laryngology during the Taisho (1912-1926) and early Showa (1926-1989) eras

During this period, the Society advanced along with the growing momentum of the field as oto-rhino-laryngology courses were established at various medical universities, specialized publications were launched, and the announcement of academic findings became very active. By 1912, the Society had grown into a huge academic body with 826 members. On April 1, 1918 the Society celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Seiyoken restaurant in Ueno, Tokyo.

4) Hiatus during World War II

Once World War II broke out in 1941, many members went into active service and the number of faculty rapidly declined at every university. As the war situation worsened, medical diagnosis, care and research activities inevitably stagnated.

Regardless, the Society did hold its 47th annual general meeting in Kanazawa in 1943, and the annual general meetings were resumed after just a three-year gap with a 1947 meeting in Osaka. Most regrettably, the Society lost many of its members in the course of the war (the membership declined from 2,327 in 1944 to 1,906 in 1948).

2. The Post-War Development of Japanese Oto-rhino-laryngology

1) Shift from German to American medicine

Following the end of World War II in 1945 Japanese medical circles came to be greatly influenced by American medicine, and entered a period of change. Japanese medical practitioners were exposed to advanced U.S. practices through the medical literature brought by the U.S. military stationed in Japan, and were left with no choice but to convert from German to American medicine.

Social conditions remained chaotic for some time after the war ended. Despite the dearth of research facilities and the shortage of personnel, the Society held its 48th annual meeting in Osaka in April 1947 under the initiative of Chairman Kowashiro Yamakawa using its new name, the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan. This post-war resumption of the Society's activities was brilliant news for the organization, and greatly welcomed by all its members.

The Society soon regained its vigor and solidified preparations for dramatic future advances in terms of both organizational structure and academic content. In November 1949, the Japan Broncho-Esophagological Society was established as the first of our Society's "related academic and research societies," and in April 1953 the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan was formally established as an incorporated association.

2) Overseas study and international exchange

During the post-war period, many Japanese researchers - including frontline researchers from our Society - were invited to the United States and blessed with opportunities to pursue their research at leading facilities, often for extended periods of time, and to enhance their medical education. The members of our Society who studied abroad and then returned to work in Japan at various facilities made major contributions to the scientific advancement of Japanese oto-rhino-laryngology through the knowledge they gained in the U.S. and other countries.

The 8th International Congress of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology was held in Japan in 1965. Not only was this meeting a great success, but the participants also approved a Japanese proposal to establish the International Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (IFOS), something that foreign countries had tried but failed to accomplish for many years. This was all a result of the scientific advancement of Japanese oto-rhino-laryngology through our Society and the unified efforts of its members. The initial IFOS Secretariat was located in Tokyo (with Dr. Jo Ono as the General Secretary), and IFOS has subsequently played a leading role in oto-rhino-laryngology international exchange activities. The IFOS Secretariat remained in Tokyo for three terms (12 years) and was relocated to Mexico in 1975. The history of this seminal period of the IFOS was compiled by Dr. Jo Ono, published as "Record of the First Twelve Years of IFOS" in April 1981, and distributed overseas.

3) Specialization and integration of oto-rhino-laryngology

Japanese oto-rhino-laryngology continued to advance. Starting with the above-mentioned founding of the Japan Broncho-Esophagological Society in 1949, our Society came to have a total of nine different "related academic and research societies" by 1963. The vibrant activities of the Society's members in each field was evidenced, for example, by the development or domestic production of diverse medical devices during this period.

Numerous devices were developed including nebulizers and hearing aids in 1948; audiometers in 1949; surgical microscopes in 1957 (adopted ahead of other medical disciplines); electronystagmographs in 1959; and microscopic laryngeal surgery implements (Nagashima Medical Instruments Co., Ltd.), fiberscopes (Machida Endoscope Co., Ltd. and Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.) and computers, all in 1966. These and subsequent developments, such as the use of laser equipment, remarkably boosted the quality of diagnosis technologies and treatment contents, and led to countless research findings in each field.

Japan had a total of 80 university departments of oto-rhino-laryngology nationwide in 1970, with the founding of the 34 so-called "new medical universities" in that year. As detailed in their individual histories, these departments have served as the foundation for the subsequent development of our field and for the prosperity of our Society.

3. Recent Developments in Oto-Rhino-Laryngology and Outlook for the Society

In the decade since the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan., Inc. celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993, medicine has witnessed remarkable developments along with advances in cutting-edge technologies. The treatment techniques and science of oto-rhino-laryngology have also made outstanding progress. The advance of our discipline has inevitably been accompanied by finer specialization into smaller fields. This is evidenced by the approximately 25 groups that have spun off from our Society since 1949. Sixteen of these are still recognized by our Society as "related academic and research societies," and are actively engaged in the holding of lecture meetings, the publication of journals, and other academic activities.

The Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan., Inc. instituted a system for the certification of specialists in 1984. Our members work to improve the quality of their practice through a continuing education program, the accomplishments of which are gradually becoming certain in responding to social needs. Our membership is also steadily growing, and has risen from 7,147 in March 1983 to 9,432 in March 1993 and 10,604 in March 2003.