News & Topics

Let’s work on what each of us can do to revive Japan’s research capabilities
JST holds the Urgent Symposium

Department of Strategic Planning and Management

On March 11, 2024, the Japan Science Technology Agency (JST) held a symposium entitled “Urgent Symposium: Why is attraction of the Japanese research publications declining, and what should we do?" at the JST Tokyo Headquarters as well as online. The event gathered 84 participants on the site and 2,002 page views* online. (*total number of accesses during the symposium)

The symposium featured lively discussions on what researchers and stakeholders in the science and technology fields should do about this issue from their respective standpoints.

JST believes that each stakeholder working in their respective capacities is crucial, and we will take the lead in implementing the initiatives that incorporate what we discussed this time. Furthermore, we will consider what JST can do and implement it immediately. Moreover, JST will make necessary requests to relevant ministries and agencies; simultaneously, we will actively deliver our requests to universities, other research institutions, the research community, and individual researchers.


Opening speech (5 minutes)

  • ・HASHIMOTO Kazuhito (President, JST)

Lectures (150 minutes)

  • ・AIDA Takuzo (Deputy Center Director, RIKEN CEMS; Distinguished Professor, the University of Tokyo Institutes for Advanced Studies Tokyo College)
  • ・UCHIDA Kenichi (Distinguished Group Leader, Research Center for Magnetic and Spintronic Materials, National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS))
  • ・OTA Kaoru (Professor, The Center for Computer Science, Muroran Institute of Technology)
  • ・GOTO Yukiko (Professor, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
  • ・GONOKAMI Makoto (President, RIKEN)
  • ・SOGA Kenichi (Professor, University of California, Berkeley)
  • * Affiliations and positions above are at the time of the symposium.

Panel discussion (120 minutes)

Discussions and opinions in the panel discussion (Excerpt, Abstract)

In addition to exchanging opinions about the decline in Japan’s research capabilities and its causes, the panel discussion focused on several other topics, such as the need for financial incentives for researchers and ways to establish them, the issue of excessive uniformity in the treatment of researchers, the demerits of “selection and concentration,” what can be done other than working on increasing budgets for science and technology, how to overcome inward-looking characteristics to strengthen international collaboration, approaches for regional universities and mid-sized private universities, and differences in research applications between Japan and other countries.

The primary opinions expressed in the lectures and panel discussions are as follows.
The opinions presented in “Discussions and opinions in the panel discussion (Excerpt, Abstract)” and “Questions and opinions from participants (Excerpt, Abstract)” are the opinions of the individual speakers and contributors and do not represent the organizations to which they belong and also do not represent the conclusions of this symposium.

  • Securing time for research and reducing burden on researchers
    • ・Streamlining and simplifying office procedures within universities and institutions
    • ・Reducing and exempting on-campus work according to the researcher’s contribution to the university (including indirect expenses by acquiring research funds)
    • ・Strengthening research support staff
    • ・Streamlining and simplifying funding applications and reports
    • ・Improving efficiency and reducing the burden of research funding applications and reviews
  • Improving researchers’ working conditions
    • ・Flexible evaluation-based treatment
    • ・Secured salary allowing for a stable lifestyle
    • ・An evaluation system for researchers reflecting the vision of the research institution
  • Securing research expenses (including promotion of public understanding)
    • ・Refining methods to develop understanding of the importance of science and technology
    • ・Considering the impact and value that can be returned to society
    • ・Reorganizing and rationalizing science and technology-related systems
    • ・Reforming the support system to leverage the originality of young researchers and graduate students
    • ・Supporting unrestricted and challenging research in competitive research funding
    • ・Increasing grants for operating expenses and KAKENHI by revising science and technology-related budgets
  • Promoting internationalization of research activities
    • ・Breaking away from the “inward-looking orientation” and actively engaging in international exchanges
    • ・Producing high-quality research results to join cutting-edge networks
    • ・Ensuring opportunities for students and young researchers to engage in international exchange
    • ・Collaborating with the world’s top academic institutions and global companies
    • ・Supporting international exchanges and designing systems that are easy to implement
    • ・Promoting diversity in the domestic research environment
    • ・Providing systematic and comprehensive support for hosting international workshops
  • Designing and sharing of research visions
    • ・Ensuring time and environment for discussing the vision among researchers
    • ・Sharing and developing research themes through discussions on proposal preparation
    • ・Presenting an institutional vision that can attract researchers and the general public (including diversity, sense of belonging, and efforts to address global environmental issues)
    • ・Designing a flexible system according to the organization’s vision
    • ・Strengthening collaborations between university staff and researchers in the management and formulation of the university’s vision
    • ・Ensuring the expertise of examiners (e.g., PM), and developing and presenting visions in each area of expertise
    • ・Expanding the scope of strategic basic research promotion
  • Improving the quality of research and papers and reforming systems
    • ・Selecting journals with global visibility in mind
    • ・Setting research themes with strategies, strengthening research planning ability, raising awareness for logic and story structure, and mentoring young researchers
    • ・Fostering a culture of active discussion among researchers
    • ・Abolishing the “lecture system” (Lecturers and assistant professors should be authorized to supervise the granting of degrees.)
    • ・Reevaluating paper achievements, considering incentives, and supporting paper publication fees
    • ・Dividing roles between researchers and teachers at universities
    • ・Integrating master’s courses and doctoral programs at universities (free tuition) and establishing a non-thesis master’s degree (tuition required as a source of income)
    • ・Ensuring a degree of freedom in research funding programs
  • Development of next-generation human resources
    • ・Communicating the advantages and attractions of research and providing guidance to encourage the next generation of researchers
    • ・Reserving time for discussion
    • ・Providing opportunities to gain experience abroad
    • ・Improving the working conditions of young researchers and stabilizing employment
    • ・Cooperating with industries to employ doctoral students and postdoctoral graduates and diversify career paths
    • ・Improving research funding for young researchers (to use their originality with a high degree of freedom)
    • ・Fostering motivation for independence and ambition by expanding support for start-ups

Questions and opinions from participants (Excerpt, Abstract)

The symposium invited questions and opinions from participants through an online Q&A tool. Here is a summary of some of the comments we received, including those that we did not have time to cover in the symposium. We would like to thank you for your many valuable comments.

  • ・To raise issues including the shortage of scientific research grants to the political and administrative authorities, it is necessary to review past efforts and approach them in the future
  • ・Rejuvenating academia without monopolizing opportunities with “big-name” researchers
  • ・The need to show young researchers the attitude and results that will encourage them to continue researching for the rest of their lives and mentor them in an inspiring manner
  • ・Lack of research funding at local national universities
  • ・The need to expand the base and raise research levels in Japan as a whole, for example, by strengthening medium-sized universities
  • ・The need to revitalize Japanese academia such that young people can have hope
  • ・Decreasing the number of funds with a high degree of freedom and weakening research paper activities by science and technology policies emphasizing industrial rather than academic contributions.
  • ・Impact of the changes in composition (basic expenses and competitive research expenses) of public research expenditures
  • ・Securing financial resources to increase science and technology budgets
  • ・Limitations of national leadership in science and technology budgets in mature nations
  • ・Instability of research jobs, where researchers must constantly look for next jobs as their term ends