The 120 Annual Congress of Japan Surgical Society (JSS 120) successfully concluded as a completely online conference from 13 to 15 August for the first time in its long history. The Congress gained an impressive record number of over 19,000 registrations from all over Japan and overseas.
What Prof. Kitagawa desired for the Congress was to keep the lively feeling and emotional impact of an in-person conference, so he and his team persisted on live streaming all seventeen breakout rooms over the three days, which added up to over 250 sessions in total. The operation of this size was an unprecedented challenge for a local online conference ever since the COVID pandemic. With the behind- the-scenes staff's efforts, the Congress ended successfully, and the Society received various feedback from many presenters and participants.
Prof. Yuko Kitagawa, Chair of JSS 120 and professor at the Keio University School of Medicine / Director General of Keio University Hospital, reflected on the Congress as a historical challenge for JSS. He commented: “Back in February when we first started considering holding JSS 120 as an online conference, we had no references for online meetings of this size. From the initial challenges of selecting the most suitable online platform and training every speaker/panelist to present online, the time and effort spent in the preparation days were enormous but necessary for the conference's success.
Some of the sessions, including the Opening Ceremony, Plenary, and the Special Lectures, were streamed live from Kioi Conference in Tokyo and other sessions from PACIFICO Yokohama in the neighboring city of Yokohama, where the Congress originally planned to take place. Still, many other sessions, including debates and panel discussions, were done online, where all the panelists and speakers attended from their rooms at their universities or home.
The Congress theme for the 120th memorial Congress was “To live as a surgeon: Looking life in the eye” and became a great platform to motivate young surgeons. The Commemoration Ceremony on Day 2 included an online orchestra and chorus performances by surgeons around Japan, messages from six selected young surgeons presenting their future ambitions, and a “Yokohama Declaration 2020” by the Japan Surgical Society promising a bright future for all surgeons.
Although every conference organizer and participants crave the return of in-person events, they also realize the benefits of meeting online. Many local associations are turning their meetings virtual until we could all travel freely to attend a conference. Business Events Tokyo will keep supporting conference organizers to find the necessary solutions and suitable venues for hosting online and hybrid events.