President’s Message: Dedicated to creating the future

The postwar development of Japan was initiated by proactively adopting Western science and technology with the aim of creating new industrial products. In the 1960s, which saw rapid growth in the economy, Japan shifted this approach towards achieving original results. For the nation with limited resources, its creative R&D has significantly attributed to its economic prosperity and contributions to the world. This fact evokes deep respect for the efforts of our predecessors.

However, the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2013, and the subsequent accidents at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station seriously damaged the image of safety and security in Japanese products as well as public trust in the field of science and technology. Recently, it has also become obvious that the rank of Japan in said field has fallen on the whole. Now we need to proceed with the belief that Japan has no future as long as we adhere to conventional methods and start fresh as a nation based on the creativity of science and technology.

Enforcement of the functions of the Japanese general headquarters

Structural reforms to Japanese R&D have been studied in various ways. For instance, as part of the enforcement of the functions of the general headquarters for Japanese R&D, the establishment of a new organization has been considered which is tentatively called “The Institute of Japan Medical Research and Development.” Bringing in new programs has also been considered, including a program dedicated to achieving strategic innovation and another for the promotion of novel R&D devoted to encouraging collaboration between government agencies and innovative R&D. As regards the roles of R&D institutes, these have been reviewed with the view to maximizing research outcomes. I hope that these reform approaches will lead to creating a new future.

R&D in health and medicine is inextricably linked with R&D in other areas such as new materials and information & communication technology. The reverse is also true. In this context, I think the collaboration between “The Institute of Japan Medical Research and Development” and JST is essential. We will also strive to strengthen ties with the Council for Science and Technology Policy as well as other government agencies in a variety of areas, including energy & environment, disaster prevention and social system, and will link these ties with Japan’s strategies for the growth and rebuilding of a safe and secure nation.

JST’s Challenges

In parallel with these reforms to R&D institutes and structure, we need to foster a new culture of R&D.

In solution-oriented innovation that Japan is aspiring for, the development of a Quantum-Jump Technology and rapid commercialization is an essential proposition. Based on its strategic program packages, JST will concentrate on continuous and cyclical R&D from basic research to future vision design as well as interdisciplinary approaches for the purpose of fostering a new culture of R&D. In this process, we would also like to develop next-generation, international human resources who will enthusiastically tackle R&D in new areas.

As a nation characterized by the art of design and manufacturing (monozukuri), Japan should pursue the avenue of emphasizing highly reliable products and systems that other countries cannot replicate. To this end, it is indispensable for us to “deepen base technology and hand it on to the next generation.” Weakened base technology can trigger serious accidents, but it is said that efforts towards base technology supporting monozukuri have been reduced in the current trend of emphasis on scholarly papers. I think we should deepen the technology for monozukuri reverting back to the fundamentals of science and shed a light on the development of system safety engineering.

JST’s Management

Focusing on managing “virtual research institutes,” JST will contribute towards creating the future as a promotion agency for science and technology based on collaboration with government agencies. For this purpose, with the participation of the strongest domestic and international leaders, we will continue to manage these institutes, which are capable of yield maximum results at optimal places, utilizing the judgment and project management capabilities we have nurtured.

Furthermore, we will develop operations concerning the formation of base technology devoted to innovating science and technology, including the collection, maintenance and provision of scientific and technological information, the development of next-generation human resources and the improvement of science communication based on deep collaboration with advanced R&D. The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) is going to host the 2017 World Science Museums Forum as well as play an important role in “showing Japanese hospitality through science” at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have considered utilizing these opportunities for scientists’ outreach activities and civic participation in order to make science and technology develop along with social progress.

Based on the above mentioned policies, JST will move forward with society and make every effort towards creating the future. We would appreciate your continued understanding and cooperation.