Thirty years of the Japan Audiological Society
In 1949, Japan’s first audiometer using a commercial power supply was launched. At that time, the JIS standard was not yet established, and the standard of 0 dB had not been determined. However, ever since the “Made in Japan” audiometer was manufactured, audiometric measurement rather than the conventional hearing test using a tuning fork has been widely used. As a result, the diagnosis of hearing loss became more accurate, and active research on hearing disorders was begun. Young researchers started discussions on hearing disorders in local meetings around 1950, and the Study Group on Hearing Loss was established in 1951. This was the origin of the Japan Audiological Society.
The first meeting of the Study Group on Hearing Loss was held at the University of Tokyo in December 8, 1951. The caretakers were Drs. Kotoji Satta, Toshikazu Nishihata, Toshizo Daito, Ichiro Kirikae, Shinsaku Horiguchi, and Yutaka Onchi, and the secretaries were Drs. Shinsaku Horiguchi, Yutaka Onchi, Kenjiro Owada, and Michinari Okamoto. There were 14 presentations, chaired by Professors Masanori Morimoto and Shigeo Takahara, with approximately 40 attendees. The main purpose of the meeting was to promote discussions on ongoing research and promote completion of researches. This continued during the early days of the audiological society. The presenters used a mimeograph, and the materials were printed on rough paper and distributed at the venue. In addition, a blackboard was sometimes used. The second to the fifth meetings were held in the month of November. However, there were still no set standards for an audiometer or audiometric measurements, so that it was difficult to compare audiometric data from various institutes. Therefore, in 1953, at the third meeting, a committee was established to develop standards for hearing measurements. The committee applied successfully to obtain Grants-in-aid for Scientific Research in 1954. This issue was pursued by the committee independently. The theme of the research was “Standards of Hearing Measurement Methods,” and the representative was Dr. Kotoji Satta, Professor at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (formerly Professor at the University of Tokyo).
The first meeting of this research group was held at Shinshu University in the autumn of 1954. The organizer was Dr. Atsuro Suzuki, Professor of Shinshu University, and there were 39 attendees.
This research group continued its research for three years, from 1954 to 1956, and a total of eight meetings were held. In order to determine the standards for hearing measurements, numerous investigators from different institutes collaborated and achieved remarkable results – thus, audiological research in Japan significantly improved. The researchers became acquainted with each other, which facilitated the change in name from the Study Group on Hearing Loss to the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai).
In 1956, the research group on “Standard of Hearing Measurement” published the “Standard of Hearing Measurement,” based on the results of two years of research in 1954 and 1955,
This standard contains the method of air-conduction pure-tone audiometry, method for describing an audiogram, and the method of performing speech audiometry, all of which are simple and precise. These standards had not been made any changes as basic standards of hearing measurement, which is specially mentioned.
In the third year of the project, 1956, the research team tried to establish standards for bone conduction audiometry and threshold audiometry, but were unable to finalize them by the deadline.
When the standards for hearing measurements were almost established by this research group, the number of young people who wanted to conduct research related to hearing increased all over the country. Moreover, the number of presentations began to increase steadily, and there were more than 200 participants at the 5th meeting. Therefore, it was decided at the 5th Study Group on Hearing Loss (November 27, 1955) to reorganize and rename the Study Group on Hearing Loss to the Audiologie Society from the next meeting, and the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) was thus born.
There was a lot of discussion about the most suitable name for the Society, and there was no Japanese word corresponding to audiology. Finally, it was decided to take the European word as it was and call it the Japan “Audiologie” Society. Since many leaders at that time used Germany, the German reading of “audiologie” was used as the official name at first, but it was unified to “audiology” at the 3rd meeting. The journal has been called “Audiology” since the first issue.
The first meeting of the Japan “Audiologie” Society was held at Keio University in the form of a discussion meeting on October 26, 1956.
In this way, the Japan Audiology Society was inaugurated with about 300 members, and the annual membership fee was 200 yen; however, no constitutions, no new presidents or organizations for managing the Society were established; a few secretaries and clerks organized the society at that time. As in the case of the Study Group on Hearing Loss, the lecture meetings were also managed with an emphasis on free discussion, with a basic agreement not to hold special lectures, panel discussions, symposia, or other special presentations, and with an attitude of respect for general presentations. This concept has been consistently maintained for 30 years.
The second meeting of the Japan “Audiologie” Society was held in Kyoto. At this time, the 37 presentations submitted by the members were divided into five groups according to the topics. Thirteen were on audiometry, eight on occupational hearing loss, four on electrophysiology of the cochlea, six on the vestibular labyrinth, and five on other subjects. The meeting on the vestibular labyrinth later led to the formation of the Vestibular Research Society and further developed into the Society of Equilibrium Neuroscience (formerly knowns as the Japan Society for Equilibrium Research). At this time, the Japan “Audiologie” Society announced that they had made LP records of single syllable lists for standard speech audiometry, and distributed them for 1200 yen apiece. This word list (50 single syllables with no meaning) was called the 57-word list.
Since it became an academic society, it was necessary to keep an official record of the conference presentations. Publication of a journal was planned, and the official Journal of the Japan Audiological Society (old) was launched in 1958. The name of the journal was “Audiology,” and only one issue was published in 1958; from 1959 onwards, it was published twice a year. One abstract book and one journal including reports of the meeting and various topics were published. At that time, Drs. Shinsaku Horiguchi, Kenjiro Owada, Tomoya Okamoto, and Shozo Kawamura were in charge of editing the journal. The Choyokai Printing Bureau was requested to print the journal, because Dr. Kenjiro Owada had worked at the Printing Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. Since this printing bureau had no experience in printing academic journals, at first, Dr. Ohwada prepared the layout and calibration.
The journal became a quarterly publication (four issues per year) from the fourth volume. However, since it did not yet solicit original research papers, it mainly published requested manuscripts and abstracts from foreign literature. An editorial committee was established to work on this publication. However, the number of submissions was initially small, and manuscripts were collected mostly in the form of requests. Since the editorial committee had established a policy to properly review submitted papers from the beginning, there were some problems, such as with respect to adding notes to the requested manuscripts. However, there were no major problems, and the journal has continued to publish high-quality content until the present.
The official name of the journal was changed to “Audiology Japan” from the 11th volume in 1968. At the same time, the design of the cover was changed from the 11th volume. The design of the cover was also changed in the 21st volume, and it was agreed that it would be changed every tenth volume thereafter.
In the early days of the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai), the number of members was not as large as it is now, so that the Society could allocate sufficient time for discussion as in the Study Group on Hearing Loss. Therefore, each presentation was discussed in detail, including the purpose and method of the research, about how to arrive at a conclusion, and the method of citation of the literature, and many members pointed out unclear points. In some cases, the conclusions were carried over to the next year. There was criticism that this policy was too strict, but it contributed to the polite development of audiological research in Japan.
The Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) and the Acoustical Society of Japan (ASJ) have had a relationship in the field of audiology since their inception, and researchers have exchanged notes with each other, so the way the society is organized has been influenced by the ASJ. The ASJ has had a lot of positive influence on the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai). A good example was the establishment of committees within the society to promote research. The committee activities were the forces that supported the activities of the society in the early days.
The president of the Study Group on Hearing Loss was Dr. Kotoji Satta, a professor at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (former professor of the University of Tokyo); he was also the head of the research group for the standard of audiometry of the Ministry of Education. A few secretaries designated by the president organized the society. However, as the number of members increased and the membership fee also increased, it became difficult to manage the society with just a few secretaries as before. In 1966, a major revision to the constitution was made, and a system of directors and councilors was established. This was the first step toward the Society becoming an open society, both in name and reality. Dr. Shinsaku Horiguchi, a professor at Tokyo Medical and Dental University was appointed as the first president.
The Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) has focused on medical audiology as its main research area since its inception, and this has not changed. Therefore, the most relevant academic society is the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan, with which we have been deeply involved since its inception. Currently, the Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Japan comprises more than ten related societies and research groups, and the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) is one of the oldest. Since hearing loss is a major symptom of ear diseases, it is natural that many diseases of the ear have been included in the research area of the Study Group on Hearing Loss and the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai). For this reason, more than just a few societies with themes related to the ear emerged with the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) as the origin. The Japan Society of Vestibular Research mentioned above is one such example. The same can be said for the Society of Otomicrosurgery – Japan Society of Clinical Otology, and the Society of Inner Ear Biochemistry – Japan Society of Basic Otology.
The above is a summary of the progress of the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai) over the past 30 years, with particular emphasis on the early years.
For a long time, our Society has maintained its original character as a research society, but recently we have been forced to change it little by little with the changing times. The number of abstracts has increased, and it has become unavoidable to limit the discussion time. The content of the Society has also changed as many societies related to otology have developed independently, as mentioned earlier. In addition, many of the researchers who were up-and-coming in the early days of this society have grown old and lost the spirit of their youth, and the society has matured accordingly. It is undeniable that we are at a turning point in every way, but now that we are a substantial society with more than 2,000 members, it is the changeless mission of our society to accurately determine our future direction, correctly respond to changes in the society, and contribute to academic development. This is a time when the wisdom and efforts of our members are especially needed.
(Adapted from the History of the Japan Audiological Society (Nihon-Audiology-Gakkai), 1985)