The Japan Society of Hepatology was initially established as the Japanese branch of the International Research Society on Hepatology on April 8, 1959. It held its first general meeting on September 20, during which Prof. Sadataka Tazaka of the University of Tokyo, Faculty of Medicine, was elected as chairman. Three directors, 33 committee members, and 2 auditors were also selected.
During the general meeting held in 1965, it was approved to reorganize the branch and upgrade it to the Japan Society of Hepatology. The society then went on to hold its first general meeting. In September the following year, two local chapters, the East Branch and West Branch, were established.
In July 1968, its admission into the Japanese Association of Medical Sciences was approved. Publication of its bimonthly magazine “Kanzo” (Liver) started in November the same year, and it grew to become a monthly magazine in January 1970.
In October 1971, the Society’s office was relocated from the University of Tokyo Hospital to Toyo Bunko (Oriental Library) in Komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. It then moved again to Kikka Building (4-1-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku) in August 1981. As its membership grew and its activities diversified, it became necessary to relocate to Kashiwaya Building 2 (3-28-10 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku) in December 1988.
The Society’s status was upgraded to that of a corporation on August 1, 1986. Subsequently, it was transformed to a general incorporated association from April 1, 2013.
A research scholarship program was launched in 1987 to promote the development of young researchers, under which a scholarship is awarded to ten people each year, and this system continues to this day. In 1996, the Oda Award (The Japan Society of Hepatology Award) was created to honor the achievements of the Society’s Honorary Chairman, Toshitsugu Oda. The award is given to selected researchers and research groups for their contributions to hepatology, and recipients give acceptance speeches at the general meeting.
The doctor designation system (current specialist system) was started in 1989. Today, 880 supervisory doctors and 5,321 specialists are active at 386 designated facilities nationwide under the system. An English journal “International Hepatology Communication” was launched in June 1992. It was renamed “Hepatology Research” in 1997 as it began to include initial papers and clinical test reports, in addition to usual short reports. This change has led to an increase in the number of foreign contributions and subscribers.
In 1995, the Society decided to make an official entry into DDW-Japan, with general meetings to be held annually and branch meetings biennially (to be held alternately in the east and the west). These meetings promote the reporting of research results and active discussions.
The Society began participating in “Liver Week” held by the Viral Hepatitis Research Foundation of Japan in 1996 and in the World Hepatitis Day in 2012. Lectures open to the public organized by the Society are held each year in five locations, and apart from the above, awareness-raising activities for the spread of the treatment of hepatitis and liver cancer and the eradication of liver cancer are conducted in 50 locations in various prefectures.
In 1998, the Society held its first international seminar on liver cirrhosis and cancer with the aim of improving the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases in Asia through an active exchange of opinions with liver disease specialists from Asia, including Southeast Asia. The above seminar has developed into a single topic conference, which has continuously been held to date.
As these activities show, the Japan Society of Hepatology, with over 50 years of history, continues to expand with its membership growing from fewer than 1,000 in its early days to about 10,000 today.