The Max Planck Society is following the tragic events in Japan with great concern

March 25, 2011

Japan is currently experiencing a catastrophe of apocalyptic dimensions. The entire world is deeply distressed by the unfolding human tragedy in Japan - the devastating earthquake, subsequent tsunami, and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, whose long-term consequences cannot yet be predicted.

The Max Planck Society is not unaffected by these events, on the contrary:

  • More than 170 Japanese visiting scientists are working at Max Planck Institutes;
  • last year, 26 staff members of Max Planck Institutes spent time in Japan on long-term research projects,
  • the Max Planck Society is currently involved in 100 projects together with Japanese research partners.

Our organisation has had close ties with Japanese research institutions for decades, in particular, with the Riken Institute, but also with the University of Tokyo.

"On behalf of the Max Planck Society and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the Japanese people, and especially to those affected by this terrible tragedy and their families and loved ones. The extent of suffering and devastation is beyond our comprehension", wrote Max Planck President Peter Gruss to the Presidents of Japanese research institutions, emphasizing: "Japanese research organisations are invaluable and essential partners to us, and our commitment to such collaboration remains as strong and solid as ever. Japanese visiting researchers make significant contributions to the successful activities at our Institutes."

According to the information we have received from RIKEN, the direct damage caused by the earthquake to the institute is slight. Thankfully, no scientists or staff members of RIKEN were killed or injured. Nevertheless, RIKEN is experiencing disruptions in the electricity and water supply, as so many others in Japan. Also, noticeably increased levels of radioactivity have been measured in the region.

In the light of the travel warning issued by the German Foreign Office, the Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society recommends that the Institutes carefully examine if any forthcoming business trips to Japan or any scientific sojourns of Institute staff members in Japan are essential.  Japanese visiting scientists and researchers can also extend or shorten the period of their time spent on research if they so wish.

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