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December 2003

Japan's Youngest Ever Weather Forecaster

Demoto Satoru
Demoto Satoru, Japan's youngest weather forecaster. (Asahi Chugakusei Weekly)

On October 3, 14-year-old Demoto Satoru, a middle school student in Yokohama, did something that is very difficult even for adults: He passed the exam to become a certified weather forecaster, becoming the youngest person in Japan ever to achieve this feat.

The weather forecasting exam is held twice a year. Satoru first took the exam in August 2002, but didn't pass. He then failed the exam a second time, before passing it at the third attempt. He learned of his success when he came home from school one day and found that the certificate had been delivered via express mail. Satoru says, "It was my third time taking the test, so I was relaxed during the exam. But when I learned I passed, I was so excited." The news really sunk in when his mother told him that some journalists had called to ask about his story.

A certified weather forecaster is someone who is publicly recognized as being able to make an accurate weather forecast using data provided by the Meteorological Agency. The national exam to become certified as a weather forecaster has no age limit, and large numbers of people show up to take the test every time it is offered. This time some 4,800 people took the test, but only 357 of them passed, including Satoru. The success rate was just 7.4%. The oldest person who passed this time was 71, and the average age of those who passed was 35.2.

The day after Satoru earned his certification, he received congratulations from many of his friends at school. Satoru explains, "On the door to the principal's office, there was a poster that said, 'Congratulations to Satoru Demoto, the youngest weather forecaster in history!' and the principal told me that I had done a great job. I was really happy."

Satoru first became interested in the weather when he was in the sixth grade of elementary school. During his independent research project over summer vacation, he studied the shapes and movements of clouds and used that information to actually forecast the weather. He was fascinated with being able to predict tomorrow's weather by looking at the sky, and he decided to take the exam to become a weather forecaster when he entered middle school.

After entering middle school, Satoru learned as much as he could about weather from reading books and looking at information on the Internet. Because he needed to learn physics, integral calculus, and differential calculus - all subjects that are not taught in middle school - Satoru got his father to teach him.

So how did he learn how to read weather maps, the most important skill for a meteorologist? Satoru explains, "I got weather maps off the Internet, and I read them in my own way and compared them with the actual weather. In addition to my regular schoolwork, I spent an hour or two each day doing this."

Satoru, who is good at English and math, is also proficient with computers, as might be expected from being the head of the computer club at his school. He is currently working on programming 3-D games. While he has not yet decided what kind of job he wants to do in the future, Satoru explains a dream of his: "When I get into high school, I'd like to create a program for making easy-to-understand and highly accurate weather forecasts using 3-D simulations and enter that program in the high school and vocational school programming contest held by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry."

NOTICE: Since October 9, 2003, Japanese names in Kids Web Japan have been written in their original order: surname first.

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