August 2020 Inaugural Address of IFAC President Hajime Asama

Delivered as part of the V-IFAC 2020 Closing Ceremony on 17 July 2020

Dear IFAC Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honor and a privilege to deliver this speech as the 23rd President of IFAC.

I must start by expressing my deepest appreciation to the German team led by now the past President Frank Allgöwer for their unimaginable amount of work they have put together to realize this virtual World Congress. Their preparations took a totally different course towards the end due to the worldwide COVID-19 came pandemic.

Since 1957, IFAC has contributed greatly to promoting outstanding scientific activities and technological developments in the field of automatic control and various related areas, and has also provided excellent services for research and education, thanks to the great contribution of IFAC's successive presidents, officers, and council members.

Overall, IFAC is currently in very good health. From technical activities including journals and conferences, to federation management and services for members and affiliates, we heavily rely on the efforts of about 2,000 volunteers who are highly competent. All the administrative tasks are handled perfectly and timely thanks to Kurt Schlacher, the IFAC Secretary, and the IFAC Secretariat, Katharina Willixhofer, Elske Haberl, and Harald Albrecht working at the IFAC office in Laxenburg, Austria. In particular, Kurt has fulfilled this position since 2005. I am extremely grateful to all of them.

I’d like to express my thanks to the NMOs of many countries for their strong support of IFAC as members, as well as the Austrian government through the BMK (Austrian Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology), for their longtime association support subsidy.

IFAC has introduced a number of important changes to improve our activities and services. IFAC works with Elsevier to publish many journals. In particular, IFAC-PapersOnLine, is an open access journal in which the papers presented at IFAC technical meetings are indexed and archived. Juan de la Puente, the EiC of POL, made tremendous efforts for this. POL has even changed to Diamond Open Access. We can all benefit from submission and download of papers without any fees.

Moreover, IFAC is currently making major change of executive structure to cope with changes in social needs, technological advancement, and environmental situations. The current Executive Board is replaced with the Executive Officers, and the Publications Board and the Conference Board are newly created. In addition, new committees such as the Activity Funds Committee, Distinguished Lecturer Program Committee, Diversity and Inclusion Committee are established. These changes have been planned under the leadership of Frank Allgöwer, the 22nd president of IFAC, and by the hard work of IFAC officers, council members, and Frank’s assistant Anne Koch. During my term, I would like to continue with these policies and implement the changes with newly elected IFAC officials. Moreover, I would like to carry out the reform through digital transformation to further expand the possibility for diverse people to participate in IFAC activities and events.

The next IFAC World Congress in 2023 will be held in Yokohama, Japan. This is the second World Congress held in Japan since 1981. It was a long-cherished dream of the Japanese control community to host the IFAC World Congress again. I am very excited about this great occasion. I would like to express my gratitude to my Japanese colleagues, such as Shinji Hara, Junichi Imura, Hideaki Ishii, Tetsuo Sawaragi, and Keiko Takahashi, who worked on the proposal for the bid, and acknowledge the support by Japan National Tourism Organization, Yokohama Convention & Visitors Bureau, Pacifico Yokohama (venue of IFAC 2023), as well as the many academic societies represented by Society of Instrument and Control Engineers of Japan, companies, and national ministries.

Even though technologies have solved many problems in our life, as revealed in the COVID-19 pandemic this time, many issues still remain for scientists and engineers to contribute. Cooperation is especially important and essential to tackle societal problems for sustainable developments in the future. I would like to make efforts to construct an arena for cooperation, because automatic control is the key technology for it.

Based on this idea, for the IFAC 2023, we have proposed the concept of "Wa (Harmony)". From the Japanese perspective, it means harmony of traditional culture and innovative technology, but in a broader sense, it represents the design of the large harmonious control loop to solve societal problems and to create societal values. IFAC 2023 will provide many opportunities for us to discuss the cooperation of various stakeholders in the world related to automatic control to achieve the goal for addressing societal problems, creation of new values, and sustainable developments.

I very much look forward to working with you in the next triennium.

Thank you very much.

Hajime Asama (JP), IFAC President 2020-2023