obituaries\(\def\hfill{\hskip 5em}\def\hfil{\hskip 3em}\def\eqno#1{\hfil {#1}}\)

Journal logoJOURNAL OF
ISSN: 1600-5775

Hiromichi Kamitsubo (1933–2017)

aRIKEN SPring-8 Center, Sayo-cho, Sayo-gun 679-5148, Japan, and bMolecular Biophysics Group, Institute of Integrative Biology, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 7ZB, UK
*Correspondence e-mail:,

(Received 13 February 2018; accepted 13 February 2018)

Dr Hiromichi Kamitsubo passed away on 13 November 2017 at the age of 84. Immediately after completing his PhD from the University of Tokyo in 1961, he was appointed a Research Associate at the Institute of Solid State Physics at the University of Tokyo, remaining there until he moved to RIKEN in 1965. He joined the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission) as a visiting researcher from 1968 to 1970. After returning to Japan, he was appointed the Chief Scientist of RIKEN's Cyclo­tron Laboratory in 1971. From 1975 to 1981 he was a Professor at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Nuclear Study. Hiromichi resigned as Chief Scientist of the Cyclo­tron Laboratory in 1989 to dedicate himself to leading the SPring-8 Construction Project. He served as an Executive Director of RIKEN for six years starting in 1992. The SPring-8 Construction Project was approved in 1990 as a joint project of RIKEN and the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI, which later became the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, JAEA). RIKEN and JAERI collaborated to establish a joint project team for the SPring-8 construction project, in which Dr Kamitsubo served as Project Leader. The Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI) was established in 1991 for the management and operation of SPring-8, entrusted by RIKEN and JAERI. Hiromichi served as Executive Director of JASRI until 2003. He was Director of the RIKEN Central Institute in Wako from 2003 to 2004. During that time he was appointed the first Director of the Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center at Tosu where he served until 2015, well into his 80s.[link]

[Scheme 1]

Dr Kamitsubo was one of three founding Main Editors of the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, along with Samar Hasnain and John Helliwell, serving from 1993 to 2002. The 1994 editorial still makes interesting reading [Hasnain, S. S., Helliwell, J. R. & Kamitsubo, H. (1994). J. Synchrotron Rad. 1, 1–4]. A quarter of a century later, the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation is well established as an important publication of the IUCr, but we had a `fun journey' getting there. During the launch period and subsequent years, Dr Kamitsubo made a huge contribution to the journal, helping to secure its viability. He organized the 6th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI'1997) in Himeji, Japan, the proceedings of which were published in the May 1998 issue of the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation. He also ensured that the proceedings of the 11th International Conference on X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS XI) held in Ako, near SPring-8, in July 2000, were published in the March 2001 issue of the journal. These were pivotal contributions for wider acceptance by the synchrotron radiation community.

For the SPring-8 construction project, Hiromichi made many key appointments, including Dr Noritaka Kumagai as the Head of Accelerator Construction, Dr Hideo Kitamura as the Head of Undulator Development, and Dr Tetsuya Ishikawa as the Head of Beamline and Optics Development. These three scientists, together with Dr Tsumoru Shintake, later led the development project of the compact X-ray free-electron laser, now known as SACLA. Many current leaders in the Japanese Synchrotron Radiation Community have had the honour and good fortune of being trained and mentored by Dr Kamitsubo during a long and distinguished career.

Dr Kamitsubo received several prestigious awards: a Purple Ribbon Medal from the Japanese Emperor in 1999, the Officier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques from the French Government in 2003, The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon in 2006, and a special honourable researcher of JASRI in 2012, to name just a few.

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