• About JPS
  • History


Language : 日本語

History of JPS

Doors open in 1877 The Physical Society of Japan (JPS) was founded in 1877 as the Tokyo Mathematics Society. It has been said that the society was founded on mathematics because of the Japanese tradition of mathematics, known as wasan. JPS celebrated the centennial of the founding of the Tokyo Mathematics Society in 1977. Its history is as long as those of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft and the American Physical Society, which celebrated their 150th and 100th anniversaries in 1995 and 1999, respectively.
Historical background The year 1877 marked the establishment of The University of Tokyo, as well as the end of the Seinan War, or Satsuma Rebellion. This may also be seen as the year when the direction was set for the modernization of Japan. In the same year, Dairoku Kikuchi returned to Japan after nine years of study in England as Japan's first mathematician. It was around this time that Yukichi Fukuzawa offered high praise to the significance of Newtonian mechanics and physical laws in "An Outline of a Theory of Civilization" (1875). In the field of physics, it was also around this time that Maxwell wrote his textbook on electromagnetism (1874) and that entropy was first formulated in statistical mechanics (around 1876).
Pre-war Mathematico-Physical Society The Tokyo Mathematics Society was reorganized and expanded into the Tokyo Mathematico-Physical Society in 1884 to allow members to study physics and work together. In 1918, it was renamed the Physico-Mathematical Society of Japan at the suggestion of Hantaro Nagaoka, a Japanese physicist. The society continued in this way until the end of World War II. Teiji Takagi's studies in Germany in 1898, Nagaoka's atomic model in 1903, Klein-Nishina's formula in 1928 and other developments during this period paved the historical path to discoveries by Yukawa and Tomonaga.
Dawn of the Physical Society of Japan The final issue of the Journal of the Physico-Mathematical Society of Japan was published as a combined issue in 1944-1945. In that issue, there are reports on all meetings except a regular meeting in August 1945 ("regular meetings" were the equivalent of today's Annual Meetings, which were held monthly at that time). According to the report, a proposal was presented at a meeting of the Board of Directors on November 9, 1945 to dissolve the Physico-Mathematical Society of Japan and separate it into two new societies, the Mathematical Society of Japan and the Physical Society of Japan. The members arrived at a decision on the proposal at an extraordinary general meeting held on December 15, 1945. Reports indicated that at that time, there were a total of 2,582 members, including 1,812 with a background in physics, 592 in mathematics, and 178 from other fields.
JPS today The first meeting marking the founding of JPS was held on April 28, 1946. In the years since, JPS has undergone various changes but remains true to its basic direction. The number of members over this period can be seen in "50 Years of the Physical Society of Japan: A history of the Physical Society of Japan (since 1946)" (Japanese only).
Marking 50 years in 1995 In 1996, there were a total of 18,513 members in JPS (at the time of the general meeting). This figure is an indicator of the organization's relatively large scale among the 1,200 or so academic societies registered with the Science Council of Japan (about 700,000 members in total) in all academic fields. In 1995, JPS marked the 50th anniversary since its establishment.
Foundation of the Institute for Pure and Applied Physics (IPAP) The Institute for Pure and Applied Physics (IPAP) (IPAP) (Japanese only) was established in April 2000 in cooperation with the Japan Society of Applied Physics (JSAP) to centralize and streamline the process of publishing and distributing English-language journals. The publication of the English-language journal, the Journal of the Physical Society of Japan (JPSJ), as well as two other journals from JSAP, the Japanese Journal of Applied Physics and Optical Review, were outsourced to IPAP. Since its founding, IPAP's activities have seen great success, including the introduction of electronic journals. In April 2008, the two societies launched the Publication Center for Pure and Applied Physics as a collaborative internal organization, replacing IPAP as a voluntary organization, in order to further develop the journals in the face of the ongoing monopoly of the market.
World Year of Physics The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) declared 2005 as the World Year of Physics (now the International Year of Physics), 100 years after 1905, the year when Einstein laid the foundation for great developments in modern physics. JPS has also planned and executed countless events since 2004. Find an overview of these events here (Japanese only).
70th (2016) and 140th (2017) anniversary

With its origins in the inception of the Tokyo Mathematics Society in 1877, 2016 marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of JPS in 1946 as a separate entity from the Mathematical Society of Japan, and 2017 the 140th year since the society was first founded. To celebrate this milestone, JPS published a series of journal articles between 2016 and 2017: "70 Wonders of Physics" (Japanese only) and "Changing Phases of Research in Physics". JPS also set up a history corner (Japanese only) at the 71st Annual Meeting (Tohoku Gakuin University, March 19-22, 2016) to introduce the history of the society to members.

  1. History of the Physical Society of Japan (to 1945) (Japanese only)
  2. 50 Years of the Physical Society of Japan: History of the Physical Society of Japan (since 1946) (Japanese only)
  3. Chronological History of the Physical Society of Japan (1877-1995), edited by the Executive Committee for the 50th Anniversary of the Physical Society of Japan (1996) (Japanese only)
  4. The History of Physics in Japan (Vol.1: History and Recollections, Vol.2: Reference Materials), edited by the Physical Society of Japan (Tokai University Press, 1978)