International Science Festival in Hakodate Celebrates 15th Year;
A Trailblazer of Women in Science
HUMAN DISCOVERY, July 24, 2023
Shaping the Future through Learning #1
Future University Hakodate: Professor Noyuri Mima
By Kyoko Kimura
—By 2030, Japan could face a deficit of as many as 800,000 professionals in the digital field. Professor Noyuri Mima (62) of Future University Hakodate is taking on the challenge of nurturing IT (information technology) talent for the future in a distinctive setting.
Lately, I have been contemplating how to encapsulate my specialty in a single word. I have been part of the university since its inception and assumed my professorship at its establishment in 2000. Our uniqueness lies in providing project-based learning in a studio-like environment, where students collaborate to solve problems while studying system information science.
In this regard, I see my role as “designing a learning environment.” However, my role extends beyond being an educator and researcher. From 2003, during my tenure as deputy director of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Koto, Tokyo), I was also engaged in public diplomacy, liaising with global dignitaries who visited Japan to observe our technology.
Drawing from this experience, I have carried on the Hakodate International Science Festival for 15 years, aiming to bring science and technology closer to the people in Hakodate, a city devoid of a “science center”. I also serve as the event producer. I strive to shape the future through these activities, echoing the words of Alan Kay, known as the “father of the computer”: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
—In the 1970s, as a high school student, her eyes were opened to the idea of working in the computer industry. She chose to major in computer science at university, thereby becoming a pioneering woman in science in Japan.
Some individuals have acknowledged me as such. Eleven years ago, I published “A Guide to Living as a Science Girl”, which may have been somewhat ahead of its time. My recent book “Living in the Age of AI”, written two years ago, was referenced in several 2023 entrance exams and was reprinted recently. It feels like an increasing number of people are understanding the importance of technology, irrespective of their chosen field of study.
I served on the NHK Governor of Executive Board from 2013 to 2016. Previously, I had been a commentator on NHK Educational TV’s (now E-Tele) science education program “Science ZERO”, hence my connection with NHK. However, I’m uncertain as to who put my name forward.
The appointment notice came as a surprise. I even traveled from Hakodate to Tokyo for confirmation. The board is the apex body that deliberates on the fundamental policies for NHK’s management. I prepared myself by diligently studying broadcasting laws and financial documents.
—Her interactions with President Katsuto Momii were in the headlines, sparking a buzz.
President Momii often stirred up controversy with comments like “(Military comfort women) existed in every country” at his inaugural press conference. He was summoned as a witness to the House of Representatives Budget Committee, where he retracted and apologized for his statement on the comfort women issue. However, when I questioned him at the Executive Board meeting about measures to restore trust after reading the full transcript of the press conference where he made the controversial remarks, Momii responded, “Even after reading (the full text), did I really make a terrible gaffe?” The atmosphere tensed.
The media caught onto this comment, documented in the minutes, and portrayed it as “defiant” and “unrepentant.”
I have always been one to voice out against unfairness. In my elementary school report card, my teacher had noted “competitive and proactive” and “responsible.” It seems I haven’t changed much since then.
However, due to this kind of approach and behavior, there have been instances when I felt frustrated because I couldn’t find understanding. There was a disappointing incident at the university last year.
(Editorial Board: Kyoko Kimura)