Technology and Innovation in Japan: Policy and Management for the Twenty-First Century

By Martin Hemmert; Christian Oberländer | Go to book overview

5

INTERNATIONALIZING JAPANESE SCIENCE

Brendan Barker

Introduction

A major objective of recent Japanese science policy has been to increase the country’s efforts in basic research. As part of this effort, a further priority has been to promote cooperation with the international research community (Arima 1996). Support for basic science is primarily justified on the grounds that it will underpin development of the next generation of technologies needed to sustain economic competitiveness and quality of life. This view is encouraged by international demands that Japan should contribute more to international research activity. These two aims—the promotion of basic science and the promotion of increased internationalization—are mutually reinforcing. Internationalization demands that good science be done in Japan, while good science thrives best as part of an open international research system.

These priorities have been reflected in recent large increases in public-sector science funding and in the aims of the recent Basic Plan for Science and Technology (Samejima 1995). However, improving both the quality of science undertaken in Japan and its attractiveness to researchers in other countries will depend on more than simply increased funding. A number of structural problems have to be addressed if the Japanese research system is to reach its full potential.

A number of Japanese policy-makers have long recognized this and in recent years they have been joined by an increasing number of politicians. From the early 1980s, new ways of supporting and managing research have been investigated. While these have so far been on a small scale, they are significant in the lessons they provide for a more full-scale restructuring of the Japanese research system—for which pressure is mounting.

A particular feature of these initiatives has been an emphasis on increased collaboration at both the national and international level. Increasing collaboration is a world-wide trend reflecting the increasing breadth of

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