Promoting international scientific cooperation in Japan

scientific cooperation

Here, Open Access Government learns all about the initiatives of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to promote scientific excellence on both a national and global scale

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), is Japan’s leading funding agency and is largely funded through annual subsidies from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to promote the advancement of academic research in all disciplines from social sciences and humanities to natural sciences and engineering. Furthermore, JSPS administers a number of bilateral and multilateral programmes for scientific cooperation and international exchange under memorandums of understanding concluded with its various counterpart foreign academic institutions around the world. These Bilateral Programs are regularly and openly recruited for.

To promote international scientific cooperation, JSPS encourages highly qualified researchers from all over the world to come to and conduct joint research activities with colleagues at Japanese universities and research institutes. This is done through their invitational fellowships for research, which are programs that provide overseas researchers who have an excellent record of research achievements with an opportunity to conduct collaborative research, discussions, and opinion exchanges with researchers in Japan. This advances overseas research activities while also promoting science and internationalisation in Japan.

Furthermore, JSPS integrated the Postdoctoral Fellowship for Overseas Researchers and the Invitation Fellowship for Research in Japan in 2015. It has been implemented as the “JSPS International Fellowships for Research in Japan” which provides the varied programs that enables applicants to select the program that suits their career stage and desired invitation tenure. This freedom given to the researchers themselves is extremely important to JSPS, as seen in a previous Open Access Government piece mapping their support in fostering independently innovative researchers.

The four main missions of JSPS are to:

  • Create diverse global level knowledge.
  • Foster the next generation of scientists while enhancing the education and research functions of universities.
  • Build evidence-based science-promotion systems and strengthening linkage with communities and all of society.
  • Build robust international cooperative networks.

The latter of these is particularly of note when discussing JSPS London, which opened its office in 1994 and since then has been promoting and supporting the development of international research collaboration with UK and Japan at the centre. Carrying out a wide range of activities, JSPS London works with partner organisations to promote long term linkages between UK based researchers and Japan.

Professor Nobuo Ueno, Director of JSPS London states on their website that “we are open to supporting all research fields from basic to applied fields across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences and we support bottom-up research driven by researchers’ curiosity. We also help to create and develop new successful relationships between academic researchers of Japan and the UK primarily and also Ireland and a few other countries through a wide range of activities, and contribute to enhance the free-flow of cutting edge research.”

For example, JSPS London organises scientific symposia, holds JSPS programme information events at universities throughout the UK and Ireland, and awards early-career UK researchers JSPS Fellowships to allow them to carry out further collaborative work in Japan. Moreover, there is huge support the alumni association for former UK and Irish JSPS Fellows and the association of Japanese researchers based in the UK (JBUK).

“We make it our principle aim to foster a relationship of confidence and trust in the international scientific community. I believe that knowledge and technological breakthroughs, which have been attained through sustaining these strong linkages, will overcome global problems,” added Professor Ueno.

There is immense benefit to gain from enhancing the understanding of research activities in universities and other research institutions in Japan, and worldwide, and looking ahead, JSPS is continuing to do this, with funding for the 2021 JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship and the 2021 JSPS London Symposium and Seminar Scheme, among many others.


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