The history of Asia Cancer Forum

We live in an age where globalization is rapidly advancing and information, people and cultures are instantly connected. However, cancer, which is rapidly increasing in Asia, is a disease that can be influenced by biological and cultural factors that have changed over a long period of time. As a result, cancer patients, and treatment and care are bound to the framework of national health systems.As a result, cancer patients, cancer treatment and nursing care are bound to the framework of national health care systems.

At a time when the mechanisms by which lifestyle changes are transmitted from one generation to the next are being elucidated, understanding and overcoming this reality requires more than just the medical problem of biologically tracing the changes in the structure of the disease. In order to understand and overcome this situation, it is desirable to carefully construct and elaborate academic wisdom and knowledge with a broad perspective that also tracks social and historical development and structures.

The Asian Cancer Forum aims to provide a forum for the fusion of humanities and sciences to transcend the “twists and turns of globalism and nationalism” by carefully analyzing and deciphering the relationship between cultural differences such as differences in dietary habits, lifestyles, and views of disease, and cancer, as the heavy shared challenge in Asia from a more practical standpoint.

The Asian Cancer Forum was established in 2004 as the Asian Cancer Information Network in collaboration with the Asian High-Tech Network Conference (Prof. Jun Miyake, Osaka University).

There was a policy proposal to the Japan-China Medical Initiative by the Abe/Wen Jiabao meeting in 2007. After holding the Asian Cancer Information Network Conference in Nanjing, China in 2007, the Forum changed its name to the Asian Cancer Forum in 2008, and has held a series of roundtable meetings with experts from Japan and abroad

In parallel, we conducted a survey on US cancer policy, a cancer prevention education project in primary and middle schools in rural China, an awareness survey, and a study on cosmetic support for cancer patients.

In 2009, at the Asia Pacific Cancer Conference (APCC), the 5th Asian Cancer Forum was held, and we began to communicate about building a network in Asia through interdisciplinary international collaboration on cancer and culture.

In April 2010, we launched a joint project with the Center for Contemporary Korean Studies at the University of Tokyo as a platform for interdisciplinary collaboration, based in the Hideyuki Akaza Laboratory of the Department of Comprehensive International Strategy for Cancer Research, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo. In addition, we held a workshop “Thinking in the Co-Creation of Public Knowledge: Who owns the information on my body?” in collaboration with JING Forum, a collaborative activity between students from the University of Tokyo and Peking University, and other activities.

Since April 2011, the Asian Cancer Forum has been a general incorporated association and its articles of association are as follows. To create a network of interdisciplinary international collaboration on the collection and use of cancer information, and to carry out activities related to the promotion of cancer on the global health agenda. Through this, it aims to contribute to the improvement of cancer care in Asia, and in order to contribute to this aim, the following projects are carried out.

(1) Holding of the Asian Cancer Forum (international conference) (2) Educational activities at universities and other research institutions (3) Cancer prevention education activities in school health (4) Multinational cancer awareness surveys and analysis (5) Development of a cancer information sharing system (awareness-raising activities) (6) Projects incidental or related to those listed in the preceding items

Based on the conceptual resources accumulated through the activities of the Asian Cancer Forum to date, since April 2011, the Forum has participated in the development of the course concept for the University of Tokyo’s cross-departmental educational program Japan-Asia Studies “Surviving Cancer in Asia” (responsible professor Hideyuki Akaza). This activity is still ongoing. Through this educational activity, we are advocating “Cross-boundary Cancer Studies” to establish an interdisciplinary international collaboration program.

The Asian Cancer Forum has been discussing cancer as part of the global health agenda since the early days of the international community, as highlighted in the electronic edition of “Science” in February 2009. Following the political declaration on non-communicable diseases by the UN General Assembly in 2011, we proposed a declaratory statement to the international community at the 8th Asian Cancer Forum .

Asia Cancer Forum

1st meeting

Date: June 6, 2008
Theme: “What is the meaning of collecting cancer information in Asia?

2nd meeting

Date: Date: 8 December 2008
Theme: “Where is the center of national interest in Asian cancer care collaboration?

3rd meeting

Date: Date: 7 February 2009
Theme: “What should be done now for Asia in a multipolar world? The role of international medical cooperation”.

4th meeting

Date: 21 April 2009
Theme: “Asian Challenges in Shifting the Disease Burdens”.

5th meeting

Date: 12 November 2009
Theme: “What Should We Do to Raise Awareness on the Issue of Cancer in the Global Health Agenda?”

6th meeting

Date: 21 August 2010
Theme: “What Should We do to Place Cancer on the Global Health Agenda?”

7th meeting

Date: 3 November 2010
Theme: “Surviving Cancer in Asia: Life, Culture and Cancer in Asia”

8th meeting

Date: October 29, 2011
Theme: Seeking to Advance the Outcomes of the UN Summit “Global health as the key to a new paradigm in cancer research”,

9th meeting

Date: September 19, 2012
Theme: Cross-boundary Cancer Studies.

Since 2013, Hideyuki Akaka, Director of the Forum, has been Director of the UICC-ARO. With this appointment, the Forum As a member of the UICC, we will develop our policy advocacy research as UICC-ARO activities. Based on the discussions at the Asian Cancer Forum, we have focused on the position of cancer in the global health agenda and have accumulated papers through round table discussions with the UICC, APCC and the Japanese Cancer Association.

Starting with the APCC in Tianjin, China in 2013, we have been discussing the issue of “Economic burden of cancer in Asian countries: how should we face the current situation? “. In collaboration with the UICC-ARO, we developed a proposal for an interdisciplinary synthesis of knowledge on social and economic factors and cancer in Asia.

In 2014, at the UICC World Congress in Melbourne, we proposed Universal Health Coverage to the UICC for the first time as an agenda item to start the discussion on UHC for cancer in Asia. The application and expansion of Universal Health Coverage in the context of limited health care resources requires strong leadership and policies in each country, but a social science framework is needed to share awareness of the issues in Asia. Therefore, we asked Dr. Shigeto Sonoda of the University of Tokyo to be involved in this project.

In 2015, at the United Nations General Assembly in September, amidst global efforts towards the SDGs, we held an event at the APCC in Indonesia, “What Can Sharing UHC Concepts do for Cancer in Asia? Making UHC a Common Goal for Cancer in Asia.” In the event we have discussed the issue with cancer researchers from Asian countries who are not familiar with UHC.

At the UICC Congress in Paris in 2016, we organized a session entitled “How can we mobilize action to realize UHC in Asia?”

In 2017, Norie Kawahara was invited to China in April for the First Meeting on the school of Oncology for Belt and Road Countries and gave a presentation on the cancer education activities in rural China supported by JICA.

As public-private partnerships have become a global trend, we began to prepare for an open call to WHO Kobe for UHC policy research, linking our classes at the University of Tokyo.The UICC-ARO session “What is the Role of the Cancer Research Community in Realizing UHC for Cancer in Asia?” was organized based on the ongoing discussion on the realization of UHC in cancer care in the Asian region at the APCC in Seoul in June 2017.

With the launch of the UICC’s City Cancer challenge, momentum for public-private partnerships has been building, and the 2018 UICC meeting in Kuala Lumpur will feature a session on “What does UHC mean for Cancer Treatment? Outlook Based on the WHO Cancer Resolution of 2017”, in collaboration with IFPMA, WHO and private pharmaceuticals. We came up with a framework for the session.

A public-private conference was started in 2018, hosted by the UICC-ARO, to stimulate internal and external debate on the WHO Cancer Resolution of 2017, reading from it and the measures taken in different countries, in conjunction with classes at the University of Tokyo.

The Asian Cancer Public-Private Dialogue Forum held discussions at the United Nations University in April 2018 (“Cancer and Chemotherapy”, Volume 45, Issue 9, September 2018) and at the House of Councilors in June 2018. On the basis of these, the content of the proposal on cancer was included in the “Basic Policy for the Asian Health Initiative” (revised), which was decided by the Headquarters for Health and Medical Care Strategy in July 2018. In response, stakeholders from the public and private sectors met in September to discuss public-private partnerships in cancer care initiatives to improve access to cancer care and achieve sustainable societies, keeping in mind global developments that are expected to unfold in the future. (Cancer and Chemotherapy, Vol. 46, No. 4, April 2019)

In addition, under the support the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), in 2014, Japan-Korea Seminar “Considering Japan-Korea Multidisciplinary Research on Cancer” was organized by students and faculty members of the University of Tokyo’s cross-campus educational program “Surviving Cancer in Asia”. Based on this, we formulated a proposal for the Asian Cancer Forum to play a role as a hub for university collaboration among the three countries (Japan, Korea, and China), and submitted a proposal to the regional secretariats of the three countries. However, due to the subsequent political situation, it has not been realized.

Since 2013, the Asian Cancer Forum has been a regional member of the Global Human Resources for Health Alliance (GHWA), which is a pillar in promoting measures to strengthen and enhance the capacity of human resources for health care. Although the WHO has ceased its activities as a GHWA, it is currently considering UHC policy advocacy activities for the next generation of cancer care human resource shortages through Mr. Shinjiro Nozaki and his colleagues at the WHO Western Pacific Office, who are also Directors of the Asian Cancer Forum, and will be involved in a Varian-commissioned study “Universal Health Coverage of Cancer Care in the Covid19 Era: Challenges and Prospects for Radiotherapy in Japan” from September 2020. We are working on this as UHC social implementation theme. Apart from these policy advocacy activities, the Asian Cancer Forum, as a research activity of the University of Tokyo, has planned and held a series of cafe seminars since 2013 from the viewpoint of understanding the disease of cancer from the perspective of “the activities of people’s lives” in the class series, and has been involved in the compilation of a book. We have also been involved in the JICA grassroots support scheme in rural areas of China where she has been working since 2004. We also have been involved in a medical education project in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province from 2014 to 2017.

The survey on the view of disease in the region was conducted as part of the Asian Cancer Forum’s “Survey and Research for Quality Improvement and Standardization of Cancer Control in East Asian Countries including Japan and China”, which was funded by the Third Comprehensive Strategic Research Project against Cancer, funded by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

In October 2017, 11 members, including five high school students, one young teacher and one doctor of traditional Chinese medicine from Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, China, were invited to participate in the Japan-Asia Science Exchange Program for Youth, Sakura Science, by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) to learn about the latest trends in Japanese science on cancer research.

We are now in an era where JICA’s knowledge of international cooperation is of great significance not only for international but also for local development. The Asian Cancer Forum began to consider collaboration with Tonami City Hospital in Toyama Prefecture, which has been interacting with Harbin City since 2018, and opened “Iliac house” in Tonami City in April 2019. It opens to the community as a base for exchange with Harbin City and learning about cancer.

The Rotary Club’s management seminar held at Lilac house on World Cancer Day on 4 February 2020 and it led to the lighting of the World Heritage Site of Ainokura Gassho Village on Light Up the World on 4 February 2021.

Learning about cancer in the local community has been a theme of the Asian Cancer Forum for many years, and we believe that the adoption of the international grant program theme: “Common Issues and Mutual Exchange in Asia – From Mutual Learning to Empathy” is a recognition of our past activities.

In order to consider what role Japan should play in Asia and what Japan’s policy response should be in the future, it is necessary to collect, analyze and share reliable data in Asia. The Forum hopes to expand its educational activities in Asia by utilizing the educational matrix of the universities in which its members are enrolled, and by drawing on its experience in educational activities through school health in China and lecture programs at universities.