Nagano: Chemical product inspector rewarded for detailed work

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Haruhiko Kuwabara in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture

NAGANO — The government has bestowed upon Haruhiko Kuwabara, 65, the title of contemporary master craftsman for his outstanding skills as a chemical product inspector.

The title is given to craftsmen with notable skills.

Kuwabara, who lives in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture, has been conducting chemical analyses on air, water, soil and other substances for nearly 40 years. With his vast experience and knowledge in the field, Kuwabara has always aimed to improve the accuracy of his work.

“Analysis is required in every aspect of a product, from the raw materials to its disposal in a landfill,” Kuwabara said. “I’m glad the government was able to shed some light on the techniques and skills that people don’t normally see.”

Kuwabara, who was born in Ise, Mie Prefecture, recalled the smog he saw in Yokkaichi in the prefecture during a bus excursion to Nagoya when he was a sixth-year elementary school student. He could barely see outside the bus because of poor visibility and his throat burned whenever he opened the window. That experience made him think about the people who lived in the area and sparked his interest in the environment and chemistry.

Kuwabara has acquired more than 50 licenses and qualifications to conduct chemical analysis and environmental research on a wide variety of samples. He also improved a burette, a device used for titration analysis assessing chemical reactions, which led to a reduction of costs and labor. He is also committed to not only using samples that have been brought to him but also collecting his own samples for his research.

“It is sometimes impossible to interpret or explain the results without seeing where the samples were collected,” Kuwabara said. “Analysis starts with sample collection.”

Kuwabara serves as the managing director of Kankyo Kagaku Co. in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Having established a prefectural association of chemical analysis technicians and serving as its chairman, Kuwabara has devoted himself to having more people take chemical analysis skills tests. He also works to encourage future generations, such as junior high and high school students, to become interested in the field by teaching them practical skills.

“I want to pass on my skills and techniques to young people,” he said. “Because I, too, have to keep up to date with the newest chemical analysis [techniques], I see it as a lifelong study.”