The government makes policies using scientific knowledge in a broad range of fields. Science can provide an important basis for ensuring the validity and reliability of decision making. In the 21st century, as the relationships of science and technology to society and economics are greatly increasing their complexity and uncertainty, the role to be played by science in the process of policy making will continue to grow.
Recently, efforts to ensure the validity and reliability of science-based policy making have been made overseas. In the United States, while rules concerning the process of scientific advice have long existed, the Obama administration is accelerating the effort to ensure scientific integrity in the government. In Great Britain, various principles regarding science in policy making have been established since the BSE crisis in the 1990s. In many other advanced nations as well as international organizations such as the European Union (EU) and Inter Academy Council (IAC), similar efforts have been made.
In Japan, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident in March 2011 have prompted the examination on the roles and responsibilities of science and government in policy making. The 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan, adopted by the cabinet in August 2011, specifically mentioned the need to examine the relationships between science and technology and policy and to establish basic principles on this issue This proposal presents draft principles on the roles and responsibilities of science and government in policy making. This draft is intended as a starting point for discussion among a wide range of stakeholders to raise awareness of the importance of this issue and refine the rules on science-based policy making. Through such discussion, the government should establish the principles, and relevant organizations should then consider drafting their own guidelines. The draft principles in this proposal consist of the following items.
(1) The role of scientific advice in policy making
(2) Seeking scientific advice in a timely and pertinent manner
(3) Ensuring the independence of scientific advisors
(4) Awareness of responsibility as scientific advisors
(5) Achieving broad perspectives and balance
(6) Ensuring the quality of advice and integrating opinions
(7) Proper handling of uncertainty and diversity
(8) Free disclosure of scientific knowledge
(9) Even-handed treatment of scientific advice by the government
(10) Ensuring transparency of the scientific advice process
This proposal also presents measures necessary for laying foundations for science-based policy making. For example, efforts to create mechanisms for scientific advice in emergencies, ensure the enforcement of the principles and guidelines, and foster education concerning the relationships of science and technology to policy and society are necessary. Through such efforts, along with organizational reforms now being considered by the government, the effectiveness and integrity of science-based policy making in Japan should be secured.