Open Access Government probes what is taking place to support academic research and further scientific cooperation in Japan and beyond

In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) aim to further academic research in university and inter-university settings, to create a varied landscape of knowledge that emanates from creative thoughts. Securing funds for this endeavour is essential, for example, by expanding the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI), making institutional reforms happen to permit “multiple-year use of research funds”.

Supporting basic & academic research

MEXT believes that basic and academic research is the essential groundwork to enable new frontiers in knowledge and is crucial to stimulate innovation and contribute to humanity’s intellectual assets being broadened. Research with those beyond the borders of Japan is stressed, a point that MEXT makes very well in their own words.

“MEXT promotes major international research projects for the development of necessary infrastructures for research activities through the creation of international research hubs under the Large-scale Academic Frontiers Project.”

We also read that basic research is crucial to Japan’s economic and social development because it encourages innovation. For example, grants like the Strategic Basic Research Programs support what MEXT terms “innovation-oriented basic research”. In addition, we discover that MEXT supports the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI), which seeks to make a research environment of a suitable high level, to demonstrate a presence for the world’s scientific community to witness. It is hoped that this will incentivise researchers on the frontline to come to Japan and work at research places there.

To summarise the above endeavours, MEXT underlines the importance of always giving “diverse support” for Japan’s academic and basic research, plus enhancing associated measures to ensure that research is achieved sustainably. (1) Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, NAGAOKA Keiko, currently heads up the Ministerial Team at MEXT. (2)

The above is just one aspect of the many policy areas that fall under MEXT. (3)

Supporting scientific cooperation in academic research

It is interesting to note that supporting “scientific cooperation between the academic community and industry” is just one aim of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The organisation is independent yet vital in administering academic and scientific programs in the country. (4)

SUGINO Tsuyoshi, JSPS President, in his mission to “advance science and enrich society”, believes that his organisation “will use the power of knowledge to propel Japan’s contributions to the global community” to meet the public’s expectations, which incorporates all researchers and “young researchers who aspire to academic careers.” (5)

JSPS undertakes several programs to give constant and firm help to the activities of researchers. In its quest to foster advancement in scientific research, cooperation is hugely encouraged between universities and places of research in Japan and beyond. “By supporting international joint research projects and seminars, researcher exchanges, and fostering young researchers, JSPS forms sustainable networks driven by bilateral research teams formed via exchanges among individual researchers,” the JSPS brochure 2021-2022 details. (6)

Funding & furthering scientific research

At the beginning of this editorial, we briefly mentioned funding, which is essential not only in the eyes of MEXT but also for JSPS. (5) Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research give financial support “for creative and pioneering research projects that will become the foundation of social development”, we are told. This ambition offers competitive funds for research that seek to massively further all scientific research areas. Finally, research must always be based “on the free ideas of the researcher,” ranging from basic to applied, spanning fields like the natural sciences plus humanities and the social sciences. (7)


  6. (pages 4 & 15)

Further reading


Open Access Government


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