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Nikkei Woman Announces the Winners of its Woman of the Year 2018 Award:
Grand Prize Goes to the Researcher of Japan’s First “Wrinkle-Improving” Best-Selling Quasi-Drug

Tokyo – December 1, 2017 – Nikkei Woman, a women’s career and lifestyle magazine published by Nikkei Business Publications (President & CEO: Suguru Niinomi; Tokyo) announced the eight winners of its Woman of the Year 2018. The Award is to honor accomplishments of women who showed outstanding performance in various quarters.

The Grand Prize went to Ms. Noriko Suenobu, the 51-year-old Corporate officer, R&D Planning, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, INC. Ms. Suenobu led her to team to develop “Wrinkle Shot Medical Serum” by Pola.

“Wrinkle Shot Medical Serum (a quasi-drug)” (20g, ¥15,000 – POLA) is the first cosmetic product in Japan to be approved by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan as a quasi-drug effective against wrinkles. The product launched on sale in January 1, 2017, with its catchphrase “The only medicated cosmetic product that improves wrinkles in Japan!” The product sold 800,000 units with 11.2 billion in sales after only 9 months. It soon became the best-selling product of the year 2017 in the cosmetic industry.

Ms. Suenobu led the research team for this product. In 2002, she launched the development of a quasi-drug beauty product for wrinkle-fighting which had no precedent. Her idea came to life in 2017, after 15 years of struggling.

Ms. Suenobu discovered the cause of wrinkles for the first time in the world. Furthermore, she investigated 5,400 substances and identified an ingredient named “NEI-L1.” However, it took 7 years of research for the ingredient to be applied as a quasi drug.

The application was submitted in 2009 for quasi-drug approval. The product seemed likely to be approved, however, the “quasi-drug” skin-whitening product by a different cosmetic company caused a scandal in 2013, causing white blotches on people’s faces, called “depigmentation.” The drug approval process in Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare was temporarily suspended. Although it resumed, the process for approval became even stricter. During this time period, Under the idea that “if the process was resumed, this product’s safety will be of utmost importance,” Ms. Suenobu conducted a large-scale, long-term evaluation test to prove its safety. In July 2016, "Wrinkle Shot Serum" was approved as a quasi-drug, the first product in Japan to be approved as a quasi-drug for improving wrinkles.

Usually, it takes 3 years, 5 years at the longest for cosmetic product development. It took 7 years for the development of “Wrinkle Shot Medical Serum,” and there were opinions within the company that it was time to call it quit. When the skin-blotch scandal came out, the sense of stagnation spread within the whole industry. For 15 years, Ms. Suenobu kept encouraging her team every time they faced the challenge, and looked for the new solutions, continuing her research and development. Her excellence as a researcher and her strong leadership that led to Japan’s first “wrinkle-improving” quasi-drug was evaluated to become this year’s grand prize.

The Grand Prize winner of the Woman of the Year 2018, Ms. Noriko Suenobu

This Year’s Award winners were;

Grand Prize
Ms. Noriko Suenobu, Ph.D., Corporate Officer, R&D Planning, POLA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, INC.
Ms. Suenobu continuously worked on developing Japan’s first medicated cosmetic product for improving wrinkles despite hitting “rock bottom” for 15 years. She is also a great team leader, resulting in the best-selling cosmetic product in 2017.

Role Model for Current Times When Life Expectancy Is 100 Years
Ms. Masako Wakamiya
Ms. Wakamiya began learning on her own (self-taught) how to use PC skills at the age of 60. At the age of 81, she launched her first app for iPhones, called “hinadan.” Apple CEO Tim Cook of United States highly acclaims of her achievement.

Supporter of Work Style Innovation
Ms. Sachiko Wada, CEO & Founder, TASKAJI Inc.
Ms. Wada operates online matching service for “people seeking household assistance” and “those who wish to provide it.” She also contributed to promoting the role of housekeepers.

Rising Hope in Super-Aging Society
Ms. Akiko Yata, CEO, Community Nurse Company
At the age of 26, being a mother of 3 children, Ms. Yada entered university to become a certified nurse. She established a new job role “community nurse” inevitable for the future of Japan.

Sympathy-Provoking Advertisement
Ms. Yoko Wake, Manager, Corporate Communication Division, Marketing & Communication Division, Brand Management, Yahoo Japan Corporation
Ms. Waki produced a billboard in the center of Ginza, Tokyo, showing what the height of the tsunami wave was (16.7 meters) in the Tohoku earthquake disaster and indicated to people how much damage it would have caused had it hit the city. She produced an ad that made people want to go “see the actual ad.”.

Pioneer for the Road to Astrowoman
Ms. Miki Ito, President, ASTROSCALE JAPAN Inc.
Ms. Ito was appointed as the president of Astroscale Japan Inc, a space venture company. There is only few space venture companies in Japan, and Astroscale is the first private company in the world to embark on cleaning up space junk.

Special Award
Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Office for Disarmament Affairs, United Nations
The first woman to be appointed as the chief of disarmament division in United Nations.

Ms. Kimiko Date, Former Professional Tennis Player
After retiring once, Ms. Date made comeback as a professional player at the age of 38. Her life full of brave challenges is inspiration to many people.

The Woman of the Year aims to contribute to;

  1. Present a role model for working women
  2. Highlight an individual’s achievements that are often buried within an organization
  3. Capture the edge of changes of the times through accomplishments of outstanding women

It is an annual award presented since 1999 and now is in its 19th year. Nikkei Woman has been supporting working women since it was first published in 1988. Through its Women of the Year Award honoring the accomplishments of outstanding women in society, the magazine will continue to support and motivate working women for the next generation.

The profiles of winners and details on the screening process and results are posted on the January issue of Nikkei WOMAN on sale from December 7, 2017.

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