16 Oct 2012

Minister Shinji Tarutoko Visits OIST

On October 15th the Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, Mr. Shinji Tarutoko, paid a visit to the OIST campus in Onna Village to receive an update on the university’s progress. His short sojourn started with a meeting with six graduate students, all of whom introduced themselves in Japanese and assured the minister of their positive experiences in Okinawa so far.

Minister Tarutoko was then taken on a tour of Lab 2, which included a stopover in Professor Mukhles Ibrahim Sowwan’s Nanoparticles by Design Unit. There, the minister was briefed on how the researchers are using state-of-the-art equipment to manipulate individual atoms and molecules for a wide range of applications in medicine, environmental protection and energy production. 

While crossing the Skywalk from Lab 2 to the Center Building, President Dorfan showed Minister Tarutoko the future sites for Lab 3 and the Child Development Center―two buildings imperative to the university’s growth and the budget request for their construction has already been submitted. After traversing the Center Court, the minister was led through Lab 1 and to Professor Noriyuki Satoh’s Marine Genomics Unit. Though Prof. Satoh was out of town attending a conference, Provost Robert Baughman explained how Satoh and his team were the first to decode an entire coral genome, a feat that will contribute to the understanding of the coral bleaching process.

In keeping with tradition, the minister was asked to sign OIST’s Golden Book before departing. He wrote four kanji characters that translate directly to “red blossoms and green willows,” a Zen phrase that means things in this world are different from each other, and they each have their own way of being.

By Vanessa Schipani


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