Monday, June 30, 2014

60th Anniversary of Fukuoka Toastmasters Part 2: Dr. Masuda

Our paths finally crossed on the 60th anniversary of Fukuoka Toastmasters, after a number of prior missed opportunities. Right after group photograph for the event, we finally had a chance to talk. We found we had both lived in New York in the 1960s. He was a Fulbright Scholar at Sloan Kettering Institute from 1966 to 1969 researching carcinogens. I was a liaison expatriate working in Manhattan for a Japanese electronic manufacturer during most of the sixties. I mentioned the name of the Rockefeller University in the Upper East Side and he said Sloan Kettering is in the neighborhood.

His name is Yoshito Masuda, Doctor of Pharmacy, now retired from the Daiichi Yakka Daigaku, a private College of Pharmaceutical Science, and a member of the Fukuoka Toastmasters between 1970 and 1980 and then re-enrolled since 2000 to date. I asked about Fukuoka Founder Usui and 2nd President Tadokoro. Dr. Masuda met both Fukuoka founders. Usui and Masuda lived in the same eastern Fukuoka neighborhood. I thought Usui relocated with his family from Fukuoka to Kitakyushu but I was wrong. On weekends Usui returned home and occasionally attended Fukuoka Toastmasters meetings. Per Masuda, Tadokoro served as president intermittently, for an overall period of approximately 5 years. Tadokoro, as a phonetic specialist, was strict in pronunciation. Masuda, himself, also served as president in 1980 before he went on furlough with Toastmasters as his work got busier.

In 1986, Dr. Masuda received a call to organize a convention, which would demonstrate his numerous abilities and experience - his dioxin expertise, a grant offer from his University, and Toastmastering and logistical skills. The Advisory Board to the International Symposium on Chlorinated Dioxins and Related Compounds chose Fukuoka Japan as the 6th convention venue and touted him as the Chairman of the Symposium. The venues prior to Fukuoka included Rome, Washington, DC, Salzburg, Ottawa and Bayreuth (Germany), all prominent international cities.

Fukuoka was chosen first in Japan, well ahead of Tokyo (2007) and Kyoto (1994), for two special discussions: 1) Japan presented the Fukuoka "Kanemi" rice oil poisoning paper in Rome (the 1st Symposium) and the name Fukuoka was remembered by the Advisory Board; and 2) scores of papers were presented on the Agent Orange aftermath from the Vietnam War, which attracted many participants.

Dr. Masuda presided over the symposium for four days at the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel where 280 participants assembled and presented papers. Two hundred were foreign participants and 80 were Japanese. He recalled the heavier proportion of foreign participants impressed the then Nishitetsu Grand Hotel Manager, as the opposite was generally observed, i.e. overwhelming Japanese attendees in most international conferences in Fukuoka during the ‘80s. The alerted local TV stations highlighted the conference and Dr. Masuda gave an in-depth interview.

In 2004, Dr. Masuda received an out of the blue invitation to Kiev, Ukraine, together with German and American doctors. Facing election, Viktor Yushchenko, 3rd President of Ukraine, was entertained by Russian officials at a Sushi bar. After dinner the face of Yushchenko showed severe chloracne, although no symptoms appeared on the Russians. Apparently Kiev worried for the President and a committee was formed, inviting dioxin specialists, to understand what care and caution might be needed in the future. (Currently relations between Russia and Ukraine are delicate.) He could not share more details. I'm proud that Fukuoka Toastmasters has a world-class scholar on dioxin, depended upon worldwide.

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