News FY 2022

The 35th AAOU Annual Conference in Jeju, Korea

Being hosted by Korea National Open University, the 35th Annual Conference of Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) was held at International Convention Center in Jeju, Korea from November 2nd to 4th, 2022. About 240 university officials and educational experts in the field of open and distance learning from 24 countries participated in the conference.

From OUJ, President Masaya Iwanaga and Vice President Masahiro Kumabe attended the AAOU Executive Committee Meeting. Prof. Takako Nakatani, Prof. Noriko Sekine, and Prof. Tsuneo Yamada attended as paper presenters.

The main theme of this year was "Opening a New Path to Open Universities: Responding to Global Issues" and the topics of some presentations included how open universities should reposition in the post-COVID-19 era.

Prof. Nakatani had a presentation of "The IBT Trials for 200,000 Examinations" as the report of a case study of the Internet-Based Testing (IBT) introduced at OUJ in 2022. Especially, she focused on various innovative efforts to reduce the server load and showed the results with quantitative data. She was awarded a Gold Medal of the AAOU Best Practice Award.

Prof. Nakatani at her Presentation and Awarding Ceremony

Prof. Sekine had a presentation of "Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning awareness among students enrolled at the Open University of Japan". She presented the results of a student survey conducted in the summer of 2021 and winter of 2022 as part of the research project of OUJ Research Institute for Learning and Education Strategies, regarding changes in students' motivation for learning and satisfaction with the OUJ.

Prof. Sekine at her Presentation
Prof. Yamada at his Presentation

Prof. Yamada had a presentation of "Implementation of a Digital Credential Ecosystem for Informal Education at the Open University of Japan". They developed a POC (Proof of Concept) model of e-transcript in which privacy data can be protected with Comprehensive Learner Record (CLR) technical standard of the 1EdTech Consortium. By using a CLR platform, they examined the effectiveness of learning pathway function in the personal CLR wallet. Prof. Yamada also contributed as a section chair.

At the General Body Meeting, elections were held to elect the next AAOU President and members of the AAOU Executive Committee CY 2023-2025. The President of OUJ was re-elected as the AAOU Executive Committee member.

The 36th AAOU Annual Conference will be hosted by the Anadolu University of Turkey from September 28th to 30th, 2023 in Istanbul.
Through its participation in AAOU, OUJ will work on cooperation with overseas distance education institutions and promote international exchange.

President Masaya Iwanaga and Professor Tsuneo Yamada’s paper was published on the AAOU website.

“Open and Distance Education in Asia", a collection of papers on ODE in Asia, was published from the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) and is now available on the AAOU website.

From OUJ, President Masaya Iwanaga and Professor Tsuneo Yamada wrote a chapter titled "Distance Education for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning in Japan".

Book of ODE in Asia

In addition to OUJ, the following AAOU members contributed; the Korea National Open University, Open University Malaysia, Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (Thailand), the Open University of China, the Open University of Sri Lanka, University of the Philippines Open University, and Universitas Terbuka (Indonesia).

AAOU website新規タブで開く

Book of ODE in Asia(PDF)新規タブで開く

A Delegation from Korea National Open University

On November 11th and 15th, a delegation consisting of Ms. Hyunju Jang and five production technical staff from the Digital Media Center of Korea National Open University (KNOU) visited OUJ as an overseas training program.

On the morning of November 11th, they arrived at Makuhari Headquarters of OUJ. Vice President Masahiro Kumabe gave an overview of OUJ’s courses and program outlines according to the questions KNOU members had requested in advance.

The delegation toured studios related for online class subjects guided by Mr. Hajime Kudo, Director Head of the Online Education Division. They also toured the Master Control Room and the studio by Mr. Hiroki Ogawa, Deputy Director of Department Production, and Mr. Kazuhiro Kawahata, Deputy Head of the Broadcast Engineering and Operating Division. They observed each facility with great enthusiasm and the tour was followed by a lively question-and-answer session about equipment and program recording.

During the lunch meeting, President Masaya Iwanaga joined the group to exchange various information on the initiatives of the two universities, including the learning material delivery system.
In the afternoon, the delegation visited the Chiba Study Center, where they toured lecture rooms, laboratories, and other facilities under the guidance of the General Manager, Mr. Toshinori Shikakura.
On the same day, they headed for the Tokyo Bunkyo Study Center, where they toured the facilities and saw the session of a Face to Face Course under the guidance of the General Manager, Mr. Takashi Annse. They learned about the uses of facilities and equipment and the roles of Study Centers.

On the 15th, the delegation visited the Hokkaido Study Center guided by General Manager, Ms. Rie Sanbuichi.

We hope that their visit will further deepen the relationship between both universities and lead to substantive exchanges in the future.

OUJ Delegates Participated in the 80th Anniversary Conference of National University of Mongolia (NUM)

From October 4th to 6th, 2022, the OUJ delegation consisting of Prof. Tsuneo Yamada, Advisor to the OUJ President and Chair of the International Exchange Committee, Prof. Yumiko Nara, and Ms. Mai Tanaka, Deputy Head of General Affairs Division, participated in the 80th anniversary celebration conference of NUM.

Entrance to the Campus of NUM

NUM was established in 1942 as the first institution of higher education in Mongolia. It has made contributions to the foundation of the higher education system in Mongolia by establishing six colleges. In recent years, the university has also been promoting distance education.
OUJ and NUM signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in October 2019 on cooperation in joint research, exchange of faculty and staff, and collaborative development and sharing of teaching materials.

Ceremony at the Parliament House

The ceremony was held on October 5th at the Parliament House in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in the presence of the university's faculty, staff, alumni, and administrators and representatives of international institutions.
Cooperative and international partners participated in the anniversary conference and commemorative activities of NUM and took part in a wide-range program to understand the history, traditions, and cultural heritage of Mongolia.

We expect both universities will continue to cooperate and engage in further active exchanges and evolve with each other.

With President Dr. Bayanjargalyn Ochirkhuyag (fourth from left),
Prof. Tsuneo Yamada (third from left), Prof. Yumiko Nara (fourth from right), Ms. Mai Tanaka (third from right)


Source: Tokyo Institute of Technology, The Open University of Japan, Osaka Metropolitan University

November 18, 2022

Truly Chiral Phonons Observed in Three-Dimensional Materials for the First Time

Chirality can be true or false, depending on the symmetry of dynamic propagation. Crystal lattice vibrations, called phonons, can also display chirality as has been shown in some two-dimensional structures. However, truly chiral phonons have never been observed in three-dimensional systems—that is, until now. Researchers from Tokyo Tech have identified these for the first time, in bulk cinnabar. Utilizing pseudo-angular momentum, their method can be used to identify the chirality in crystalline structures.

Chirality is the breaking of reflection and inversion symmetries. Simply put, it is when an object’s mirror images cannot be superimposed over each other. A common example are your two hands—while mirror images of each other, they can never overlap. Chirality appears at all levels in nature and is ubiquitous. In addition to static chirality, chirality can also occur due to dynamic motion including rotation. With this in mind, we can distinguish true and false chirality. A system is truly chiral if, when translating, space inversion does not equate to time reversal combined with a proper spatial rotation.

Phonons are quanta (or small packets) of energy associated with the vibration of atoms in a crystal lattice. Recently, phonons with chiral properties have been theorized and experimentally discovered in two-dimensional (2D) materials such as tungsten diselenide. The discovered chiral phonons are rotating—yet not propagating—atomic motions. But, truly chiral phonons would be atomic motions that are both rotating and propagating, and these have never been observed in three-dimensional (3D) bulk systems.

Now, a team of researchers led by scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have identified truly chiral phonons, both theoretically and experimentally. The team, led by Professor Takuya Satoh of the Department of Physics at Tokyo Tech, observed the chiral phonons in cinnabar (α-HgS). This was achieved using a combination of first-principles calculations and an experimental technique called circularly polarized Raman scattering. “Chiral structures can be probed using chiral techniques. So, using circularly polarized light, which has its own handedness (i.e., right-handed or left-handedness), is critical. Dynamic chiral structures can be mapped using pseudo-angular momentum (PAM). Pseudo-momentum and PAM originate from the phase factors acquired by discrete translation and rotation symmetry operations, respectively,” explains Professor Satoh.

The researchers’ novel experimental approach also allowed them to probe the fundamental traits of PAM. They found that the law of the conservation of PAM—one of the key laws ofphysics—holds between circularly polarized photons and chiral phonons. “Our work also provides an optical method to identify the handedness of chiral materials using PAM. Namely, we can determine the handedness of materials with better resolution than x-ray diffraction (XRD) can achieve. Moreover, XRD requires a large-enough crystal, is invasive, and can be destructive. Circularly polarized Raman scattering, on the other hand, allowed us to determine the chirality of structures XRD could not, in a non-contact and non-destructive manner,” concludes Professor Satoh.

This study is the first to identify truly chiral phonons in 3D materials, which are clearly distinct from those seen previously in 2D hexagonal systems. The learnings gained here could drive new research into developing ways for transferring the PAM from photons to electron spins via propagating chiral phonons in future devices. Furthermore, this approach enables the determination of the true chirality of a crystal in an improved manner, providing a new critical tool for experimentalists’ and researchers.


Kyosuke Ishito1, Huiling Mao1, Yusuke Kousaka2,3, Yoshihiko Togawa2, Satoshi Iwasaki3, Tiantian Zhang1,4, Shuichi Murakami1,4, Jun-ichiro Kishine5,6 and Takuya Satoh1

Title of original paper:
Truly chiral phonons in α-HgS

Nature Physics



  1. Department of Physics, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan
  2. Department of Physics and Electronics, Osaka Metropolitan University, Osaka, Japan
  3. Research Institute for Interdisciplinary Science, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan
  4. Tokodai Institute for Element Strategy (TIES), Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan
  5. Division of Natural and Environmental Sciences, The Open University of Japan, Chiba, Japan
  6. Institute for Molecular Science, Okazaki, Japan

*Corresponding author’s email:


Kazuhide Hasegawa
Public Relations Division,
Tokyo Institute of Technology

Truly chiral phonons—i.e., rotating and propagating atomic motions seen in a crystal lattice—have never been observed in a bulk 3D material. However, now, Tokyo Tech researchers have identified these in cinnabar.