Towards solving important social issues by system-building through systems science and technology/CRDS-FY2010-SP-04
Executive Summary

Enjoying the benefits of science and technology through a variety of systems is a characteristic of the present “age of systems”. The system is a complex which connects appropriate elements to realize purposefull functions. The recent systems tend to be more complex and larger scale than ever. Thus, the science and technology related to the system, in other words, “systems science and technology” plays an important role as the academic science necessary to analyze, design and implement the system. However, systems science and technology has never been the subject of a full-scale government promotion measure in Japan, but almost a “neglected science and technology”. How and why it became so is analyzed in detail in the interim report, “The Role of Systems Science and Its Issues in Japan” (CRDS-FY2010-XR-07), which we made in the process of preparing this recommendation.
Systems science and technology basically has a different character from science and technology in conventional fields in several aspects, thus its promotion measure is inevitably different from other sciences and technology. The first feature is that systems science and technology seeks the logic universality of the artifacts by eliminating the individuality of the fields. Therefore, its results are expressed as abstract theories or theoretic approaches, different from the results of conventional science and technology where one would be able to see or touch something in the case of the discovery of a new substance or completion of a device. As a matter of fact, the system itself cannot be seen or touched, making its results even more the same. The second feature is that since systems science and technology originally seeks to integrate the elements with various functions into one general function, it is often placed in a phase which connects basic and applied research, where its ability can be fully extended. The third feature is that systems science and technology research is constantly connected to building the actual project. It is important that it is tempered by producing effective results in such circumstances. In such cases, one must recognize that, from the universal characteristic of systems science and technology, there may well be a synergetic or ripple effect. Thus it is important to build a research organization which could adequately soak up such results.
This recommendation proposes the promotion measures for systems science and technology in order to solve the present issues that it faces, taking its features previously mentioned into consideration. Most important of all is to extract the necessity to build a system required to solve socially anticipated high-priority issues and specify it. Of course not all priority issues need to build a system, but in many cases, building appropriate systems become the final solution. For such issues and projects, to keep a right perspective from the view point of building systems, to extract and structure the necessary element researches from that perspective, and to guarantee the purposiveness of the element researches, are desired. This cannot be achieved by trendy planning abilities or management by objectives. We need cutting edge research. For this purpose, we propose a new research category called “Strategic Research for Building Systems” in this recommendation. “Strategic Research for Building Systems” would specify the measures to integrate the related individual themes as a system, and take the leadership in the entire research which would streamline the necessary decision making. “Strategic Research for Building Systems” would not only take the leadership in the planning stages, but also in the actual implementation process of the research in order to adjust and advance the purpose according to environmental changes. Up till now, in the top-down government projects, it has been impossible to make drastic changes in a plan once it is started. The lack of flexibility in the project implementation has often been pointed out. However, “Strategic Research for Building Systems” would be able to compensate for such drawbacks and secure the timely evolution of the project.
Proposing “Strategic Research for Building Systems” would be a promotion measure taking into account its academic character of systems science and technology, in other words, it is a science and technology combined with both basic and applied research, intrinsically aiming at the solution of issues. At the same time, “Strategic Research for Building Systems” would not only temper systems science and technology as an issue-solving type of science and technology, but also advance the fundamental research of systems science.
To be more concrete, we intend to implement “Strategic Research for Building Systems” immediately to those whose missions are to build systems among the projects which are scheduled to be conducted under the new growth strategy, and validate its effectiveness. Along the same line, we will pick up issues which we face where the system construction is a key factor, and fully implement the “Strategic Research for Building Systems”. As examples of such issues, we propose three projects. As we have already mentioned, the abstraction and universality of systems science and technology will bring synergetic or ripple effects to the results. In order to soak up such synergetic or ripple effects, it is necessary to have a central organization to conduct and integrate systems science and technology in the process of promotion of systems science and technology.
By making systems science and technology have a strong presence in the science and researcher communities in Japan, the rapid transition of science and technology policy from field specific to problem-solving types is anticipated. Also, by formulating the issues which specify the intentions of building systems, we could structure element researches and streamline funding. In order to implement science and technology in today’s complicated society, it is necessary to build a system open to society, not one that is closed in its own local technical world. Thus we need to stand on a solid research base of human mentality and behavior. Therefore, “Strategic Research for Building Systems” requires cooperation from the fields of social science and humanities. Systems science and technology also holds research areas adjacent to social sciences such as business administration, economics, modeling, and social simulation, which implies that it will play the role of catalyst by further increasing the present integration of humanities and sciences.
“The Limits to Growth” commissioned by the Club of Rome in 1972 gave a revitalizing role to systems science and technology. There are many large organizations for the research of systems science and technology in the world. Among them, China is active in the research of systems science and technology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has a large research organization for the field. In Japan, there are presently no research organizations which focus on systems science and technology, let alone the existence of such research organizations in any university or government institution. With this recommendation, we plan to improve the level of systems science and technology, and hope to become a model country for solving problems as referred to in the new growth strategy.