Advancing science and technology in Japan

technology in japan
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Scientific research acts as a pioneer on the frontiers of human knowledge. Open Access Government outline Japan’s efforts to advance technology and scientific research

Towards the end of 2021, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Minister HAGIUDA Koichi participated in the G20 Research Ministers’ Meeting chaired by Italy. The topics discussed were the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on accelerating digital transformation for higher education and research. The “Declaration of G20 Ministers: Leveraging Digitalisation for a Resilient, Strong, Sustainable and Inclusive Recovery” was adopted as an outcome of the meeting and is a prime example of how many countries can come together to advance their individual and collective goals.

During the meeting, MEXT Minister HAGIUDA Koichi introduced and shared information on:

  • Recent advances in remote and smart systems implemented at Japanese research facilities.
  • Advances in next-generation information infra- structures including the supercomputer Fugaku, which was completed in March 2021.
  • Advances in research digitisation, upgrading environments for remote education at universities.
  • Promoting hybrid education that effectively combines schooling and online education.
  • The establishment of a university fund of about a trillion yen, which aims to realise world-class university research.

Furthermore, in 2021, sub-group of MEXT and funding agency the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) entered the fourth year of its fourth Mid-term Plan and Objectives, set into motion in April 2018. JSPS’s operation is supported in large part by annual subsidies from the Japanese Government. Its main functions are:

  • To foster young researchers.
  • To promote international scientific cooperation.
  • To award Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research.
  • To support scientific cooperation between the academic community and industry.
  • To collect and distribute information on scientific research activities.

JSPS budget for the 2021 fiscal year totalled ¥267.8 billion. This includes ¥27.2 billion in operating expense subsidies from the National Treasury, ¥139.7 billion in subsidies for Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research, and ¥1.1 billion for the “Leading Initiative for Excellent Young Researchers” Programme. Also included is ¥99.0 billion Multi-year Fund for Grants-in-Aid financed by the government.

Within the Mid-term Plan framework, JSPS continues to implement its programmes in ways that accord to the needs of researchers while striving in pursuit of its mandate to support the activities of researchers who boldly challenge the pioneering of new knowledge. Towards this end, JSPS continues to innovate and reform its KAKENHI programme, to support excellent young researchers, and to promote international research collaboration. These KAKENHI grants cover a full range of creative and pioneering research from basic to applied fields across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Research activities take many forms, including those in which the researchers carry out their work with curiosity, projects in which the area of concentration and goals are defined in advance, and those intended to lead to specific product development. The starting point for all these activities is scientific research based on the researcher’s own creative ideas. By broadly supporting this scientific research, which is the foundation of all research activities, the KAKENHI Programme plays a major role in the fostering and the development of scientific advances.

JSPS President, SATOMI Susumu MD PhD, stated that “as COVID-19 continues to plague societies throughout the world, it is exerting a profound impact on the international implementation of scientific research activities. JSPS is taking special measures to alleviate difficulties imposed by this situation on researchers who conduct research activities under its various programs. Taking a flexible stance that considers their position, we have, for example, extended the period for researchers to submit fellowship and grant applications while simplifying the procedures for filing them.”


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