Japan Aims to Reverse Decline in Research Capabilities

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A supercomputer at Tohoku University in Sendai

The government’s University for International Research Excellence program is aimed at reversing the serious decline in Japan’s research and development capabilities.

Japan fell to a record-low 13th place in the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy’s latest global ranking based on the most cited scientific papers, coming behind Iran.

Last year, Japan was overtaken by South Korea and Spain.

The decline has been attributed to a decrease in the number of students enrolling in doctoral programs and the lack of time researchers have to conduct research because they are overwhelmed by administrative work.

Tohoku University wants to double the financial aid for doctoral students to ¥3.6 million per year and hire research support personnel to help increase research hours.

“Universities have become inflexible and unable to fully demonstrate their research capabilities,” said Tateo Arimoto, an adjunct professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.

“Institutions picked for the University for International Research Excellence program must break down barriers and serve as models for reform.”

However, there is also an opinion that it would be more efficient to provide shallow but broad support to more universities to efficiently achieve results.