Akira Tsuchiyama

     On October 1, 2016, the Japan Association of Mineralogical Sciences (JAMS) transformed from a private association into a general incorporated association. JAMS was established in 2007 as the result of a merger between The Mineralogical Society of Japan, which was itself established as an independent mineralogy working group of The Geological Society of Japan in 1955, and The Japanese Association of Mineralogists, Petrologists and Economic Geologists, which was originally established in 1928. Thus JAMS, with its eighty-eight-year history, has just started a new phase as an incorporated association. This means that it will have legal compliance through (1) improved reliability in both its academic and societal functions, (2) legal stability through clarification of responsibilities, and (3) holding of properties. As the first president of this incorporated association, I am happy to make a contribution to JAMS and the Earth and planetary science community.

    As an outreach activity to mark its transformation to an incorporated association, JAMS selected jadeite (“hisui” in Japanese) as the national stone of Japan. An American mineralogist, G. K. Kunz, proposed “rock crystal” as the national stone of Japan in his book in 1913. We decided to replace the national stone, based on new knowledge and understanding of the importance of the rocks that form Japan, not only in terms of natural science but also of social science, culture and art. For more details, refer to the following specific article.

   As a topic in my own research field, the Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 was launched in 2014, and should arrive at the asteroid Ryugyu in mid-2018. Samples of this C-type asteroid (carbonaceous chondrite or related material) will return to Earth around the end of 2020. A call for nomination of sub-team leaders for the Initial Analysis Team for samples returned by Hayabusa2 was recently announced. The sub-teams cover chemistry, petrology and mineralogy, volatiles, and organics. We expect that some JAMS members will be selected as the sub-team leaders, and a number of the members will contribute to the initial analysis.

    Our annual meeting for 2017 will be held at Ehime University in September 2017. Some members of JAMS will be conveners of the international sessions of the Japan Geoscience Union Meeting 2017, held at Makuhari, Chiba, in May. It is a great honor to meet fellow researchers from all over the world at such academic conferences.



   The Japan Association of Mineralogical Sciences (JAMS) selected jadeite as the national stone of Japan in 2016. In making this decision, we did not distinguish between minerals and rocks, and we decided to select a stone that is a basic and familiar geological constituent of Japan. We set up the following criteria for the national stone:
(1) Being a beautiful stone that is found in Japan and is known to the Japanese.
(2) Having global significance, not only in mineral sciences and Earth sciences, but also in other fields. We also set up additional recommended criteria as follows:
(3) Being used over a long period of time and in a wide variety of ways in Japanese life.
(4) Continuing to occur at the present time, and being observable in the field.

(5) Occurring in sustainable environments for the observation that are protected by law.
    We made the selection through a ballot of the society members at the JMPS Annual Meeting on September 24, 2016. Five candidates for the national stone were chosen according to public comments and the recommendations of the JMPS Working Group, namely, granite (granitic rocks and their pegmatites), stibnite, native gold, rock crystal (including Japanese twin, agate, chalcedony and jasper), and jadeite (including jadeitite).

    “Jadeite” (“hisui” in Japanese) is a comprehensive term that includes the mineral jadeite and the rock jadeitite. Fine grained and slightly transparent forms are known as the jewel “jadeite jade” (also “hisui” in Japanese). It is accepted that jadeite forms only in divergent plate boundaries like the Japanese islands, which have cold thermal gradients [1]. The occurrence of jadeitite is restricted to the distribution areas of serpentinites, which are younger than 550 million years. Thus, jadeitite is one of the rocks that indicate a cooling of the Earth. Jadeite (hisui) was used for stoneware in the early phase of the Early Jomon period, and as “magatama” (comma-shaped beads) until the 8th century in Japan. The occurrence of jadeite in Japan faded into obscurity after that time, but it was rediscovered in 1938 in Itoigawa [2]. At present, we can observe jadeite in the field at sites all over Japan, and some of these localities are protected by law.

 [1] Harlow G.E., Tsujimori T., Sorensen S.S. (2015)Jadeitites and Plate Tectonics. Ann. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 43, 105-138.

[2] Kawano Y. (1939) J. Jap. Assoc. Min. Petrol. Econ. Geol., 22, 219-225 (in Japanese).

 Updated Dec. 02, 2016

Akira Tsuchiyama

A photograph of a part of typical green-white
jadeite from Itoigawa, Japan (©JAMS) displayed in the National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo.

Journal of Mineralogical and Petrological Sciences