Prof. Tsutomu Sakuta (1943-2020)

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Published by WASP

February 12, 2021

The World Association of Social Psychiatry (WASP) expresses its heartfelt condolences at the sudden and untimely demise of Professor Tsutomu Sakuta. He was President of the WASP from 2003 to 2007, and presided over the 19th World Congress of Social Psychiatry in Prague, Czech Republic, October 2007. His successor was Professor Julio Arboleda Florez, who presided over the WASP from 2007 till 2010.

Professor T. Sakuta was born in Tokyo, Japan on the 25th of June 1943. In 1968, he graduated from Keio University Faculty of Medicine in Tokyo, Department of Neuropsychiatry with an M.D. then a Ph.D. Keio University was established in 1858 and has been since a most prestigious one in Japan.

The main interest of Professor Sakuta was in forensic psychiatry (social aspects of delinquency among adolescents, infanticide, prison psychiatry in Japan, personality and fostering). He received in 1994 the International Council Prison Medical Services Special award. In the 2003 Current Opinion in Psychiatry journal, he published a major article on “Constitutional and organizational elements of forensic psychiatry in Japan

In the early 2000s, Professor Sakuta was also co-opted as member of the Board (executive committee) of the International Federation for Psychotherapy, as well as member of the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health

Another aspect of the contributions of Professor Sakuta was to promote international collaboration between countries for peace. He was the president of Japan International Cultural Exchange Foundation of which purpose was “to improve human culture and promote world peace through various international cultural exchange activities”. This was particularly visible when Professor Sakuta sponsored financially young psychiatrists in order for them to attend world congresses of Social Psychiatry with a sum of 10,000 US$ for each congress. This occurred in Marrakech (2010), Lisbon (2013), New Delhi (2016) and Bucharest (2019). The fellowships, 20 each time, were particularly appreciated by young psychiatrists. He also served as a mentor to the early career psychiatrists.

Professor Sakuta was directly involved in the organisation of the world congresses of Social Psychiatry in 2001, 2004 and 2007. The 2001 WCSP was held in Agra, India and was almost cancelled after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York; it was finally maintained and was successful under the leadership of Professor Shridhar Sharma.

During the Bucharest World Congress of Social Psychiatry, he insisted to have the 2022 WCSP in Nara, Japan, under the leadership of Professor Masafumi Mizuno. He repeated many times the importance of holding this congress in the oldest capital of Japan. Professor Sakuta was always creative when it comes to education. He created the Japan University of Health Sciences from scratch which necessitated a huge effort.

On a more personal note, Professor Sakuta was a distinguished sportsman: Judo (Kuroobi, 5th dan), Ski (1st grade certificate of ski teaching), Shorinji Kenpo (2nd dan). Further, he understood and spoke English, German, Spanish, and Japanese.

The WASP shares the grief of his family. May his soul rest in peace.


Driss Moussaoui
Masafumi Mizuno
Roy Abraham Kallivayalil

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