Centennial Memorial Issue: The Journal of Japanese Botany

Research Cooperative
10/03/17 10:33:31PM

Review of The Journal of Japanese Botany (Centennial Memorial Issue), Vol. 91 Supplement, December 2016.

I am very impressed that this journal has successfully reached the age of 100, and is still going strong.

Is it because the most of the authors, editors and reviewers have been sustained by a healthy diet of Japanese vegetables?!

Not entirely - the journal publishes on the botany of other regions, and also has numerous contributions from outside Japan.

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I do not know what the language policies of this journal were, 100 years ago, but today it is bilingual, publishing articles in English with English abstract, in English with Japanese abstract, in Japanese with English abstract, and also with the full text and abstract in both English and Japanese.

Perhaps other issues have texts that are written in Japanese only, but this centennial issue is English-friendly throughout. It is also large, well-structured, and well-edited - with 36 articles in seven sections covering:

  • History of The Journal of Japanese Botany

  • Floristic Studies

  • Seed plants

  • Ferns and mosses

  • Algae

  • Fungi

  • Medicinal plants and pharmacognosy

There is a nice coherence between the first and last sections. The journal was established by the revered Japanese botanist Tomitaro Makino in 1916 and has been published by Tsumura and Co. since then. The collaboration of Makino and his friend, the pharmaceutical company founder Jusha Tsumura, is nicely described by Hideaki Ohba in his article "The people who supported The Journal of Japanese Botany launched by Tomitaro Makino" J. Jpn. Bot. 91 Suppl.:24-41 (2016). One early role of the journal was to support the identification and authentication of plant-based medicines in Japan.

The issue concludes with an important article by Zhao et al: "Establishment of platforms to facilitate the inheritance and innovation of Chinese medicinal authentication" J. Jpn. Bot. 91, Suppl.: 412-417 (2016). The authors note that "Many issues related to authentication have remained unresolved since ancient times". Let's not blame botanists for inactivity! Rather, we should acknowledge that understanding and protecting plant resources of the world is a vast undertaking that requires continued support!

Many others also supported the Journal, and they are remembered here too, with numerous historical photos included. This centennial issue is in a sense an ethnobotanical account of academic (and popular) botany in 20th century Japan. I sincerely hope that this issue will inspire continued spport for the journal both inside and outside Japan, by scholars and readers who care about plants in Japan and beyond.

In 2016, the Journal launched an online, digital archive for all its papers. See: http://www.jjbotany.com

I do hope that the journal continues to produce the print edition, while also providing the digital archive, and online access. At present, the journal uses a subscription system, and does not charge author fees. The website provides open access for abstracts, and this will help to make the journal and contributions of authors more visible than they have been in the past.