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Collaboration with intermational epidemiologic projects

Japan-China Research Collaboration Project

Collaborative Research between Japan and China
Research aimed for collaboration on cancer prevention and control between Japan and China

Japan-China Research Collaboration Project

Project overview

On November 2, 2008, the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China concluded a memorandum of cooperation in regard to health and medical sciences calling for the two countries to place a high priority on cancer-related research. Accordingly, the Japan-China Research Collaboration Project has been put together to promote coordination and cooperation between researchers in Japan and China who are involved in studies that set out to find means of cancer prevention. To that end, specific project objectives call for joint efforts between Japan and China to facilitate cross-comparison and analysis of fundamental statistics and other forms of data needed to come up with means of combating cancer, and also call for the development of research platforms that enable exploration into the causes of cancer. Project initiatives to that end involve forming a bilateral working group, promoting bilateral data gathering efforts, establishing concrete action plans for research alliances between the two countries, fostering exchanges among Japanese and Chinese cancer specialists, establishing symposiums in the two countries pertaining to cancer prevention research, and other such initiatives.
Specific project implementation has involved the signing of a memorandum of understanding pertaining to cancer research between cancer research centers in Japan and China - namely, the National Cancer Center in Japan, and the Cancer Institute & Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in China. Accordingly, the two institutions are driving efforts to promote and coordinate possibilities for actual joint research and research exchange. Counterparts in Japan have formed a working group involved mainly with the field of cancer prevention. Members of that group have been working to gather cancer-related information from publications and websites, as well as through searches of scientific journals and through exchanges with Japanese and Chinese cancer specialists. Such sources are yielding statistics on cancer, findings of epidemiological research and preventative studies, and information about tobacco control efforts, cancer-related infectious disease and environmental carcinogens.
The people of China and Japan have similar diets, lifestyles and health issues. Accordingly, since the end of World War II lifestyles of Japanese people have come to more closely resemble those found in Western countries; likewise, lifestyles in China as well are rapidly coming to more closely resemble western countries. Moreover, Japan and China both have populations that are growing increasingly older. Therefore, health issues faced by people in China and Japan will most likely converge even more in the future, making it crucial that the two countries share knowledge pertaining to cancer prevention and other such issues. As of yet, however, Japan and China have failed to adequately engage in collaborative research efforts in this regard. Which is why, to build a platform that enables cooperative efforts between Japan and China, participants engaged in the Japan-China Research Collaboration Project have been working to determine specific issues that bilateral information exchange and cross-country alliances can effectively address, and have initiated actual opportunities for collaboration in that regard.

Project initiatives

1. Collaborative research in the field of preventative epidemiology

In the field of preventative epidemiology, collaborative research between Japan and China in recent years has involved methodologies intended to predict the efficacy of cancer prevention strategies in the respective countries in an attempt to better estimate the proportion of attributable risk of cancer among their respective populations. Research work is currently being carried out in Japan and China independently, with the intention that results will be compared in the future.

2. Collaborative research involving cancer-related statistics

In the area of cancer-related statistics, collaborative research between Japan and China has involved attempts to compare and contrast characteristics on causes of cancer mortality in Japan and China. To that end, researchers from both countries have been exchanging and analyzing age- and sex-specific data on cancer incidence and mortality.
Japanese and Chinese counterparts have been sharing and analyzing data that, from the Chinese side, involves age- and sex-specific data on cancer incidence in 11 regions of China between the years 1988 and 2005 (data provided by the Cancer Institute & Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, and by the Chinese National Center for Cancer Registries), and from the Japanese side, involves age- and sex-specific data on cancer incidence in 13 regions of Japan between 1993 and 2004.

3. Collaborative research in the field of tobacco control

In comparison with the rest of the world, Japan and China both have high rates of tobacco cigarette use, particularly among male smokers whose proportion of tobacco use is markedly higher than that of male smokers in Europe and North America.
Collaborative research in this area has involved investigating the realities of smoking in Japan and China. Such project-related research is being conducted with reference to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), and has involved looking into smoking-related issues such as legal frameworks pertaining to smoking, active and passive smoking, smoking in public places, health impacts of smoking, tobacco pricing and taxation, cigarette sales volumes, smoking cessation programs, cigarette warning labels and tobacco advertising restrictions.

4. Collaborative research in the field of cancer-related infectious disease

In comparison with the rest of the world, Japan and China both have high incidences of hepatitis and liver cancer; and moreover, share similar ethnic and lifestyle practices. However, Japanese researchers know relatively little in terms of incidences of hepatitis and liver cancer in China, and remain similarly unaware of measures in place in China to deal with these issues. In that regard, the Japan-China Research Collaboration Project facilitates studies drawing on information provided by the Chinese counterparts looking into hepatitis virus infection and other cancer-related infectious disease in China.

5. Collaborative research in the field of environmental carcinogens

Collaborative research in the field of environmental carcinogens has involved efforts to evaluate levels of environmental carcinogen exposure of citizens of both countries, and to perform investigative research into how such exposure contributes to human carcinogenesis.

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2 Inoue M, Sawada N, Matsuda T, Iwasaki M, Sasazuki S, Shimazu T, Shibuya K, Tsugane S. Attributable causes of cancer in Japan in 2005--systematic assessment to estimate current burden of cancer attributable to known preventable risk factors in Japan. Ann Oncol. 2012; 23(5): 1362-1369.
1 Tanaka M, Katayama F, Kato H, Tanaka H, Wang J, Qiao YL, Inoue M. Hepatitis B and C virus infection and hepatocellular carcinoma in China: a review of epidemiology and control measures. J Epidemiol. 2011; 21(6): 401-416.
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