A Report on the First Scientific Congress of Japanese Association for Infant Mental Health (Japanese Affiliate of WAIMH) in Koriyama in Commemoration of the Unification of JAIMH

JAIMH presenters: Nobuko Sakai, Wright Nisizaka, Satoshi Brojan, Masako Yamamoto, Kanae Narui, Dr. Hisako Watanabe, Kayoko Sekino, Miho Kawaharagi, Chiaki Yasaka, Norie Munakata, and Dr. Shintaro Kikuchi. Photo taken by Dr. Toru Matsubara.

The first scientific congress of the Japanese Association of Infant Mental Health (JAIMH) after its unification was held in Koriyama city on December 12th and 13th, 2021 with a theme, “Weaving the Future for Children: 10 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.”  This event marked the inauguration of JAIMH as the Japanese affiliation of WAIMH.  Nearly 200 people participated in the hybrid congress in consideration of COVID-19.

In the public lectures, the topics that form the foundation of JAIMH were presented such as the creation of sustainable environment for children by Prof. Ichiro Iwaki of Nihon University(1); issues surrounding children’s development after the disaster by a pediatrician, Dr. Shintaro Kikuchi(2); and infant-mother reciprocity by a picture book artist, Ms. Hideko Ise(3).

We had an honor to receive a message from Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino in the opening ceremony(4), followed by the words from Mayor Mari Shinagawa of Koriyama, and the Executive Director of WAIMH, Dr. Kaija Puura. Dr. Kaija reflected on the footprint of WAIMH with an acknowledgement of the contribution by its Japanese members including the JAIMH President, Dr. Hisako Watanabe. She also elaborated on the infant mental health program in Finland whose new efforts, she mentioned, were influenced by the post-disaster programs in Fukushima. Dr. Kaija’s words confirmed the close ties and mutual influence between JAIMH and WAIMH, which enable our experiences to be shared in the world.

The first symposium(5) focused on attachment issues after the disaster. After the presentation on the efforts by the nurseries and child care institutions, we listened to the real-life experiences of individuals who grew up in the group home for children. While we were touched by their resilience, we also reacknowledged the indispensable value of fostering attachment among children living in adversity.

Day two started with the poster sessions by JAIMH members(6). The invited lecture by Lawyer Kyoko Hasegawa on the shared custody after divorce set the tone of the day(7). The presentation by Dr. Erum Mariam on the Humanitarian Play Lab (HPL) in Rohingya Refugee Camp sparked the hybrid discussion on the importance of the provision of locally relevant, familiar play programs for refugee children in a safe place, which resonated with our experience in Fukushima(8).

In the second symposium, we stepped back a little and looked at a big picture of post-disaster intervention. A longtime supporter of JAIMH and non-fiction writer, Mr. Kunio Yanagida shared his views on how to support families regenerate their lost hometowns(9). Ms. Kaoru Suzuki of Iwaki Citizens’ Radiation Measurement Center, on her part, recounted the reality of mothers raising children with uncertainty of radioactive contamination in their own words. Finally, the chairperson of NPO Heartful Family Care Society, Mr. Takashi Tomimori, touched upon the expansion of the Infant-Parent Play and Parent Meeting in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic(10).

The congress was a great opportunity to discuss infant mental health in a very practical manner and to reconfirm our commitment as a member of the global team.  Last but not least, we would like to express our sincere gratitude towards the ceaseless encouragement and support received from Dr. Kaija Puura.

Here is a program of our scientific congress. Please look at this.

Japanese Association for Infant Mental Health (JAIMH): Japanese Affiliate of WAIMH

The 1st Scientific Congress in Koriyama in Commemoration of the Unification of the JAIMH

Theme: Weaving the Future for Children : 10 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET)

Date : 11th-12th December 2021

Live Online (and on-demand from February 2022)

Venue: 50th Anniversary Memorial Hall (Hat NE), College of Engineering, Nihon University

The Aim of the Congress

Japanese Association for Infant Mental Health (JAIMH) has been newly formed by unification of the national infant mental health forum, ‘FOUR WINDS’ (Forum Of Universal Research and Workings on Infant and Neonatal Developmental Support) and the Japanese Affiliate of WAIMH. This 1st Scientific Congress is organized in Koriyama in commemoration of this unification. (Counting from the first FOUR WINDS gathering in 1997, this will be the 23rd congress.) This year’s congress theme, ’Weaving the Future for Children’ conveys that if we compare the life of children to the warp, and that of us, child nurturers, to the weft, we aim to weave a fabric of happy and hopeful future for children living under whatever circumstances. We have supported babies, children and parents in Fukushima over the past 10 years in the aftermath of the GEJET and ensuing nuclear disasters. Children around the world face crises due to manifold factors, including COVID-19, trauma, child abuse, and neglect. To protect their healthy growth and development both mentally and physically, we have to keep improving our competency as infant mental health professionals. We present our ideas from Fukushima throughout Japan and to the world in the hope of developing a better Infant Mental Health community.

Local Presidential Lecture

  • Kanae Narui (Director of Heartful Family Care Society, Shirakawa/Koriyama, Fukushima) Children in the aftermath of the GEJET and beyond.

Invited Musician & Foreign Lecturers

  • Atsuko Tenma Dec 12th 13:30pm Violin Mini Concert (Renowned Violinist from Fukushima)
  • Kaija Puura Dec 11th 13:30pm Opening Message from WAIMH (Professor of Child Psychiatry, Tampere University, Executive Director of WAIMH Office, Tampere, Finland)
  • Erum Mariam Dec 12th 10:30am Humanitarian Play Lab (HPL) & Indigenous Culture (Director, BRAC Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, HPL Rohingya Camp, Bangladesh)


  1. -We aim to protect our children— social support for nurturing attachment

-Cultivating attachment in the field of IMH after the GEJET and the 2011 nuclear disasters.

  1. Reflecting on the past 10 years of support for parents and children in the community: surviving the GEJET and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and thinking about the future of the children.

Public Lectures, Dec 11th am

  • Hideko Ise (picture book artist)
  • Ichiro Iwaki Thinking about the Future of Children from the perspective of the LOHAS Engineering (Professor, College of Engineering, Nihon University, Director of the Center for LOHAS Engineering)
  • Shintaro Kikuchi The Current Situation of Children in Fukushima after the GEJET (Kikuchi Clinic, Pediatrician)

Concluding Congress Lecture, Dec 12th pm

  • Kunio Yanagida (Non-fiction writer)

Keynote Lecture Dec 11th 15:15pm

  • Hisako Watanabe Launching the JAIMH and underlying thoughts (President of JAIMH, Executive of WAIMH, Director, Life Development Center, Watanabe Clinic)


Organizer  Executive Committee for the 1st Scientific Congress in Koriyama in Commemoration of the Unification of the JAIMH (Local Organizing Chair : Kanae Narui)

Co-organizers College of Engineering, Nihon University, Certified NPO PEP Network of Child Care in Koriyama, NPO Association for Nurturing Future Heartful Heart, Certified NPO Mothers’ Radiation Lab & Clinic Fukush

Office c/o Kikuchi Clinic, 1-13-17 Honmachi, Koriyama City, Fukushima, 963-8871, Japan. Email: info@japan-aimh.com

The contents of the congress will be available on demand in January 2022. We welcome your joining our endeavor as well as your feedback on the contents.


(1)     https://youtu.be/WjaGDumNMUM

(2)     https://youtu.be/K9bLojJPI7o

(3)     https://youtu.be/hSFtHGUtP2M

(4)     https://youtu.be/a0EMdaBJk1s


(5)     https://youtu.be/Sb7Zxsj31aA


(6)     https://youtu.be/yzKpj8fLc3w

(7)     https://youtu.be/hRdIfabCivI

(8)     https://youtu.be/7UBWgGOAQME

(9)     https://youtu.be/o1GGBSsf5l8

(10)   https://youtu.be/Tnpq9qWvgWg



Narui, Kanae,
Congress Chair,
JAIMH Executive Committee of the first Scientific Congress in Koriyama