Keynote Speakers

April 10-12, 2019/Osaka, Japan

Prof. Masa Higo, Kyushu University, Japan

Dr. Higo is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, specializing in aging and social policy from a cross-national comparative perspective. He holds a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Central Missouri and a doctoral degree in sociology from Boston College. His research focuses on recent reforms to retirement and old-age public pension program and their impacts on older workers’ socio-economic wellbeing with special focus on Asia, including Japan. His peer-reviewed articles are published in, among others, the Journal of Population Ageing, Global Social Policy, and Journal of Aging & Social Policy. Representative academic volumes include Retirement in Japan and South Korea: The Past, the Present, and the Future of Mandatory Retirement (2015, Routledge) and Ageing in Asia-Pacific: Interdisciplinary and Comparative Perspectives (2018, Routledge). Dr. Higo is a member of The Gerontological Society of America, American Sociological Association, and International Sociological Association.

Speech Topic: Retirement Reforms in a ‘Hyper-Aged’ Japan: Enduring and New Policy Challenges

Abstract: Population aging is a global trend, and today most developed countries are tasked with delaying the timing of workers’ retirement due in part to projected insolvencies of old-age public pension schemes. In this global context, a ‘hyper-aged’ Japan has over the past decades faced the world’s sheerest pressure to delay retirement. Despite this demographic pressure, contractual mandatory retirement – a set of employer practices calling for employees’ retirement upon reaching a certain age – is widely in effect across the country’s workforce. Today, the vast majority of employers call for mandatory retirement at age 60, whereas full public pension benefits are only available from age 65. This presentation focuses on the policy efforts that the national government has made over the past three decades in order to increase the minimum age of mandatory retirement, particularly through a series of revisions made to the Law for the Stabilization of Employment of Older Persons (LSEOP) of 1986. The main data for this presentation include those drawn from the latest, publicly available administrative surveys and those from a series of recent expert interviews conducted in Tokyo. This presentation details the interplay between the policy efforts and employer resistance surrounding the national objective of delaying retirement and highlights both enduring and new challenges that the policymakers in Japan have been facing in their efforts to delay retirement.


Prof. Rong Zhang, Nishinippon institute of Technology, Japan

Rong Zhang is currently a professor at Faculty of Design, Nishinippon Institute of Technology, Japan. She holds a master degree in education from University of Teacher Education Fukuoka, and a doctor degree in educational engineering from Waseda University, Japan. Rong Zhang has been teaching both English and Chinese for more than twenty years in about ten universities. Her research field includes intercultural communication, foreign language acquisition and e-learning. She has been focusing on the various social issues in Japan and made suggestions from the perspective of globalization and development.

Speech Topic: Migration of Foreign Workers in Japan – Progress and Challenges

Abstract: Japan has become one of the most aged society in the world due to its low birthrate. It is estimated that the population of Japan will dip below 100 million shortly after the middle of this century and by the end of the century, Japan will lose 34% of its population compared to 2015. The ratio of people aged 65 and older is expected to rise to 31.6% by 2030. Unable to staff positions from the domestic labor force, many companies have turned to the foreign labor market to fill the gap of labor shortage. However, Japan is a country which places high priority on its cultural identity and does not accept low-skilled temporary workers. Its Immigration Control Law does not issue working visas to those who are involved in low-skilled work. The intension of this is to discourage long-term settlement of foreign workers. As a result, Japanese firms have to rely on the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP). Under this program, foreigners are granted a maximum of five-year visa to undertake training and internships. The program has been criticized as simply as way to exploit foreigners, nevertheless, many Japanese companies continue to take advantage of this system to import cheap labor from abroad. Migrant workers encounter problems while adapting to the social and working environment. They have to endure long working hours, poor working conditions, pressures of deficiency in their Japanese language, different cultural backgrounds and uncertainty in their future. The migrant worker issue is one of the more challenging problems facing Japan today. It has opened its door to foreign workers and began to appear more attractive to new immigrants. More efforts are needed to embrace diversity if Japan wants to accept more migrant workers to find solutions to the social problems fostered by the lack of laborers and boost its economy.


Prof. José Javier López, Minnesota State University in Mankato, USA

José Javier López is Professor of Geography at Minnesota State University in Mankato. He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and received a doctorate degree in geography from Indiana State University. Following graduation, he moved to Minnesota and began a career in geographic education. Since becoming a faculty member of MSU’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the late 1990s, Lopez has researched different issues pertinent to the social geography of the United States and Latin America. Over the years he has taught many systematic courses, including Spatial Statistics, Spatial Analysis, Cultural Geography, Economic Geography, Social Geography, and Rural Development.

Speech Title: The Use of Spatial Statistics to Fight Human Trafficking
Human trafficking is an issue that has received considerable attention during the past fifteen years.  An understanding of the geographic distribution of these criminal practices will provide social services agencies a better understanding of which areas have the potential to become more vulnerable to the problem due to the presence of facilitators and enablers of this exploitative practice.  In order to develop a thorough understanding of this crime’s geographic patterns, social scientists and government analysts need a basic knowledge of spatial statistics.  This type of statistical analysis is a product of the quantitative revolutions of the 1950s and 1960s.  With the advent of user-friendly information systems technologies, numerous government agencies and non-governmental social services groups have initiated the incorporation of this area of knowledge in their fight against human trafficking.  This talk will present examples of the use of spatial statistics as an analytical and crime-solving resource for the detection of the presence human trafficking in some regions of the United States.  Particular attention is given to the role geographic information systems (GIS) and records from the courts and police play in the development of inferential spatial statistical analyses.  The case studies of sex trafficking in the American states of Virginia and Minnesota are included in this presentation.


Prof. Boon Leing TAN

Student Services Centre, Singapore

Xian International University, China


Boon currently lectures at various universities, in the areas of Operations Management and Business Management, where he also supervises dissertation students at UG, PG and Doctoral levels. He is currently a guest professor with Xian International University and consults at Student Services Centre (Singapore) and previously at FY Institute of Technology (Singapore). He was also the Academic Director at PSB Academy with responsibility over a number of Schools and served as the Chair of the PSB Examination Board, and T&L Committee. Previously, Boon was Head of Business School at MDIS from 2011 to 2012 where he had oversight on strategic directions and operations of MBS and was also the Singapore programme director for GGSB's highly acclaimed MIB. From Aug 2007 to 2010, Boon served as the founding HoD and Professor of Management at the Department of BEM, Xian Jiaotong Liverpool University; and a senior lecturer at Sunderland Business School from 2005 to 2007 where he also led the e-Business and Knowledge Management research team; and as a contract lecturer at Aston Business School from 2001 to 2005. 

Boon publishes regularly in leading academics journals and international conference proceedings. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management and the Journal of Management and Training for Industries. He also serves as a reviewer for numerous journals including JMTM, IJBPM and EM. His research interests includes Industry 4.0, servitization, e-business management, technology management, supply-chain management, business process re-engineering, and quality management.  Boon is also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, Performance Measurement Association, British Academy of Management and also an associate member of the Higher Education Academy.

Speech Topic: Perceptions on the Factors Impacting the Quality of Life after Retirement: A Study on Stakeholders in Singapore

Abstract: Retirement is a pivot point in a person’s life where it is impacted by the aspects of social, emotional and nutritional life, both negative and positive. The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined old age as being 65 years old and older (WHO, 1984). However, this is not universal and that the quality of life, which is the general well-being of individuals and societies, including positive and negative aspects of life after retirement, is one of the major popular topics nowadays. This is due mainly to the growing implications of the silver tsunami to most developed economies. Singapore, although a newly developed economy, is also facing the predicament of facing the effects of the silver tsunami. A pilot study was thus undertaken further to understand the relationship between quality of retirement life and influencing factors. Firstly, the importance of quality of retirement life was introduced as well as the background information of the aging population in Singapore. Major factors affecting quality of retirement life are identified and discussed, including financial situation, healthy living, social engagement, family engagement and government pension system. Through a pilot study, the study attempted to establish the relationship between these factors and the satisfaction level on the quality of retirement life. The results indicated that among the factors, financial situation and family engagement seems to show the strongest positive correlation with the quality of retirement life in Singapore. As such, the recommendations to stakeholders based on these results are also deliberated. A short case is also presented to demonstrate one of the multi-faceted approach by the Singapore Government to help retirees navigate and manage their quality of life.

Dr. Houssain Kettani, Dakota State University, USA

Dr. Houssain Kettani received the Bachelor's degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus in 1998, and Master’s and Doctorate degrees both in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2000 and 2002, respectively. Dr. Kettani served as faculty member at the University of South Alabama (2002-2003), Jackson State University (2003-2007), Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (2007-2012), Fort Hays State University (2012-2016), Florida Polytechnic University (2016-2018) and Dakota State University since 2018. Dr. Kettani has served as Staff Research Assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory in summer of 2000, Visiting Research Professor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in summers of 2005 to 2011, Visiting Research Professor at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center at the University of Alaska in summer of 2008 and Visiting Professor at the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in summer of 2010. Dr. Kettani’s research interests include computational science and engineering, high performance computing algorithms, information retrieval, network traffic characterization, number theory, robust control and optimization, and Muslim population studies. He presented his research in over sixty refereed conference and journal publications and his work received over four hundred citations by researchers all over the world. He authored The World Muslim Population, History and Prospect, which was published in 2014 by Research Publishing Service, and The World Muslim Population, Spatial and Temporal Analyses, which is published in 2019 by Pam Stanford Publishing, and is the topic of his talk. He chaired over hundred international conferences throughout the world and successfully secured external funding in millions of dollars for research and education from US federal agencies such as NSF, DOE, DOD, and NRC.

Speech Topic: The World Muslim Population, Spatial & Temporal Analyses

Abstract: The birth of Islam over fourteen centuries ago was a monumental event in human history with an everlasting effect on humanity. For centuries researchers contemplated on the growth and distribution of Muslims throughout the world. The purpose of this manuscript is to present a reliable estimate of the world Muslim population since the inception of Islam at the start of the seventh century to the end of the twenty-first century. In this book, the world is divided into five continents, each is divided into non-overlapping regions, and these in turn are divided into current countries. A centennial data estimate for each region and current country from 600AD to 2100AD (approximately 1H to 1500H) of the total population, and corresponding Muslim population and its percentage is provided. Furthermore, the same data in decennial order from 1790 to 2100 (or 1210H to 1520H) is provided for each region and country. These data are summarized to be a reference for other studies and discussions related to the Muslim population. The presented data show that the percentage of world Muslim population with respect to the total world population has increased steadily from 3% in 700AD or 100H to 7% in 800AD or 200H, to 11% in 900AD or 300H, to 13% in 1000AD or 400H, reaching 16% in 1700AD or 1100H. But it dropped to 13% in 1800AD or 1200H, to increase to 14% in 1900AD or 1300H. This percentage has been increasing by one percentage point per decade since 1950AD or 1370H, reaching 25% in 2020AD or 1440H. The rate of increase of the world Muslim population is expected to slow down, increasing their percentage to 30% by 2050AD or 1470H and 35% by 2100AD or 1520H.


Invited Speaker

Assoc. Prof. Mitsuharu Matsumoto, University of electro-communications, Japan

Mitsuharu Matsumoto is currently an associate professor in the University of Electro-Communications. He received a B.E. in Applied Physics, and M.E. and Dr. Eng. in Pure and Applied Physics from Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan, in 2001, 2003, and 2006, respectively. His research interests include acoustical signal processing, image processing, pattern recognition, self-assembly, human-robot interaction and robotics. He received Ericsson Young Scientist Award from Nippon Ericsson K.K, Japan and FOST Kumada Award, in 2009 and 2011, respectively. He published around a hundred of journal and international conference papers. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Institute of Electronic, Information and Communication Engineers (IEICE) and the Society of Instrument and Control Engineers (SICE).

Speech Topic: Robot Design to Create Users Tasks: On Positive Effect of Negative Robot Behavior

Abstract: In this speech, I introduce robot design to create users tasks and the positive effect of negative robot behavior. Many robots to help people's daily life have been developed. Although many researchers and system designers aim to develop perfect robots to help people in daily life, such robots make users live a reactive life. On the other hand, some researchers developed robots that depend on users. The robots require users' assists to do their tasks and users become active due to its dependence like children. Children not only require people's assists to do their tasks but also make some mistakes. They are sometimes rebellious and live not for other persons but for themselves. In spite of their mistakes and rebellious attitude, people come to like children. Based on the idea from these types of interaction, we expect that users may have positive impression on such negative robot behaviors. Through some experiments, we confirmed that users accepted such mistakes and rebellious attitudes and felt some positive impression on them.