Asia-Pacific astronomers to hold meeting in Koriyama in 2023

Members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) will hold a regional Asia-Pacific meeting in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Koriyama in the summer of 2023, a local nonprofit organization instrumental in the event's bidding process announced on May 26. The meeting, the first of its kind in the prefecture, will be held at the Big Palette Fukushima hall and chaired by Junichi Watanabe, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), who hails from Aizuwakamatsu, another city in the prefecture. ■ NAOJ deputy chief Watanabe, native of Aizuwakamatsu, named chair The Koriyama Convention Bureau played a major role in the bid in cooperation with the NAOJ and other parties concerned. It will be the IAU's third Asia-Pacific session in Japan following the ones hosted by Kyoto in 1984 and Tokyo in 2002. The regional IAU meeting is held triennially, with some 500 to 1,000 astronomers from about 30 Asia-Pacific countries discussing topics ranging from specific observation plans to ways to inspire interest in astronomy among the general public. The meeting in Koriyama is expected to run for about a week. Watanabe, 60, who also serves as chairman of the IAU panel of the Science Council of Japan's physics committee, was responsible for bidding activities. Fukushima Prefecture was picked as Japan's representative location for the bidding out of consideration that holding the 2023 meeting would help it recover further from the damage of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Two local schools -- Aizu University and Nihon University's College of Engineering -- were among key collaborators in the successful bid. "I can only say I'm happy to have been able to bring it to Japan, to my hometown -- Fukushima (Prefecture)," Watanabe said. "I would like many astronomers to enjoy the beautiful nature of Fukushima and the pure-hearted personality of people in the prefecture -- in addition to exchanging views on developing state-of-the-art astronomy." According to the Koriyama Convention Bureau, the 2023 event will be the first major international conference to take place in the city since December 2012, when the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety was held under the sponsorship of the Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). (Translated by Kyodo News)