Department of Surgery, Keio University School of Medicine
Last year, the Japanese Society of Gastroenterological Surgery marked the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1968 as an organization dedicated to advancing and expanding gastroenterological surgical science. The fifty years of tremendous achievements made by our predecessors were beautifully celebrated with a commemorative retrospective led by our fourth president, Dr. Yasuyuki Seto. And now, the JSGS has embarked upon the first step of the next fifty years toward its centennial. It is an immense honor for me to be appointed president of this society steeped in history and tradition at such a key milestone in its annals, and I am humbled by the weighty responsibility that now rests on my shoulders.
Comprising about 20,000 members, the JSGS is the largest scientific society among all surgical subspecialities. Gastroenterological surgeons play a vital role across Japan’s entire surgical community, supporting care for the broadest range of illnesses as they work at the front lines of medicine—from treatment of emergency conditions such as acute abdomen and abdominal trauma to multi-modality therapy for GI cancer, as well as function preservation and minimally invasive therapy for benign GI disorders. The mission of the JSGS is not only to advance the growth of science in surgery and more specifically gastroenterological surgery, but also to build up a system enabling young surgeons to engage in lifelong learning with pride and a sense of purpose, and to put those contributions to work for society. One example is our Japanese skill education for young gastroenterological surgeons (JESUS) program, which was established in 2015. This initiative provides excellent opportunities for experts at the forefront of gastroenterological surgery to share with budding surgeons the fundamental techniques of this field, and the appeal and joy of being professionals who use their own hands to protect the lives of patients. Moreover, at a time when the tendency to shy away from risky areas of medicine has become rampant among young physicians, this program has been steadily tackling that challenge by instilling greater courage and hope in residents seeking to become gastroenterological surgeons. Also, female residents have been actively taking part in JESUS, raising expectations for the further advancement of gender equality among the next generation of gastroenterological surgeons.
Our Japanese Journal of Gastroenterological Surgery has maintained high standards of quality as a scientific journal and has helped to cultivate the foundations of science in young gastroenterological surgeons. Annals of Gastroenterological Surgery, our official English journal launched in 2017, is expected to continue dramatically growing as a driving force that elevates the international presence of the JSGS by communicating to the world the outstanding gastroenterological surgical insights amassed by Japan. At the same time, Annals of Gastroenterological Surgery plays a critical role in our constant efforts to develop the JSGS into a more internationally oriented society.
Now that Japan has set in motion a new system for training and certifying medical specialists, we will witness in 2021 the debut of the first surgical specialists accredited under that system, but the outlook for subspecialities on the road ahead remains murky. The JSGS will launch in 2020 a new program that will provide the right training to surgical specialists wishing to become gastroenterological surgeons so that they can acquire that certification without fail. As part of this effort, we are now compiling the program’s official textbook. We will further refine this program so that everything that needs to be learned is clearly defined and so that the specialist certification that each surgeon works so hard to obtain firmly makes a meaningful contribution to his or her career path.
The National Clinical Database, established by the JSGS, the Japan Surgical Society, and the other Japanese surgery-related societies, supports the foundation of the medical specialist system, which is currently operated as an independent institution that coordinates all fields of surgery. In addition, it greatly contributes to scientific research and to the enhancement of the quality of healthcare. Going forward, it will be necessary to use NCD data to identify the health economics outcomes that result when gastroenterological surgery specialists safely perform advanced procedures, and provide tomorrow’s gastroenterological surgeons with a certain set of incentives.
All the initiatives I have mentioned here have, needless to say, been rolled out and brought to fruition through the hard work of our presidents, directors, auditors, and members.
I am firmly committed to doing my best to collaborate with all of you in ushering in a bright future for the gastroenterological surgeons of the next fifty years, if not the next 100 years, and in contributing to the health and welfare of the people of Japan. I thus ask that you please lend me your support and guidance in these endeavors.