Major Results of R&D Focus Areas

R&D Focus Area: Protecting Children from Crime

R&D Focus Area: Science Technology and Humanity

R&D Focus Area "Brain-Science and Society"

Implementation-Support Program

R&D Focus Area: Protecting Children from Crime

Establishing an Empirical Basis to Measure and Prevent Crimes against Children

Project Director: Yutaka HARADA, Director, Department of Criminology and Behavioral Sciences, National Research Institute of Police Science (NRIPS)

The project developed two 'yardsticks' in order to understand crime risks: a) occurrence of crime affecting children and b) children's daily activities. When the two yardsticks are cross-referenced using GIS, the data makes clear the times and locations that need to be watched.

This project assessed crime affecting children, including close calls, and recorded children's daily activities in terms of both time and location, and developed methods for proposing / evaluating countermeasures adapted for the circumstances surrounding the crime and the characteristics of the community and residents. It collected crime data and built a portal site for sharing the information.
The project also held workshops in communities, reported on case studies that led to improved crime prevention, and featured in the fiscal year 2011 white paper on science and technology.

Training Program for Video Recorded Interview (Forensic interviews) with Children in Forensic Context

Project Director: Makiko NAKA, Professor of Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University

Right: A role play of an interview with a child participant
Left: Learning forensic interviewing techniques

Successfully acquiring a testimony from a child when he or she witnesses to or is affected by a crime is the key to securing the child's safety and preventing reoccurrences, but it had been believed extracting the facts without giving the child leading questions was very difficult.
Therefore, this project developed and gave training on forensic interviewing techniques for extracting high-quality information usable in court and other judicial situations by encouraging children's free narratives and by recording and videotaping interviews, while minimizing the burden on children as much as possible.

Development of Support Systems for Community Safety Planning

Project Director: Toshiya YAMAMOTO, Professor, Department of Science and Technology, Meiji University

Community safety inspection by children

A portal website was developed for this project in order to support community safety planning (planning of a community which is easy to live in for both children and adults and is safe and comfortable in terms of crime prevention). It includes an e-manual collecting know-how and examples of planning, implementing, evaluating and improving, and provides municipalities nationwide with information on community safety planning. Not only manuals but also Web examinations and an analysis tool of questionnaire results are available on the portal website.
In 2011, this project established the "Community Design Partners for Children's Safety" to promote support for the comprehensive activities for safe and comfortable community planning.

Development of Advanced Information and Simulation Technology for Intentional Injury Prevention

Project Director: Tatsuhiro YAMANAKA, Director, Injury Prevention Engineering Research Team (IPERT), Digital Human Research Center, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Left:Technology for biomechanical simulation of attacks and accidents
Right:Development of injury database: Frequency of injury in cases where abuse is suspected (left) and frequency of injury caused by accidents (right).

This project developed support tools for use at child welfare centers, hospitals and so on to determine whether an injury was intentional (the result of abuse, etc.) or accidental. We developed simulation technology that uses test dummies to reproduce situations in which injuries occur, injury data acquisition and storage systems using maps of the human body, and software tools to support the process of determining whether there has been abuse. These systems have been used to aid actual police investigations.z

R&D Focus Area: Science Technology and Humanity

Establishment of the "Science Media Centre of Japan" as an Information Hub for Science and Technology

Project Director: Shiro SEGAWA, Professor, Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University

Left: Science Alerts published on the SMC website
Right: SMC's international network reports the return to earth of JAXA's asteroid explorer, Hayabusa

Today, the news is full of information about science and technology. This project established the Science Media Centre of Japan (SMC Japan) to create an intermediary communication setup between science and the media. During the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, when there were still ongoing incidents such as the nuclear disaster, the SMC acted quickly to collect comments from a variety of experts and made them available to the media as scientific perspectives. It also introduced the media to these experts directly. SMC is working to provide a new system for facilitating debate in today's post-industrial society.

Construction of a Pragmatic Scientist Community Contributing to the Stakeholder-driven Management of the Local Environment

Project Director: Tetsu SATO, Professor, Center for Coordination, Promotion and Communication, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature

Left: Examples of local communities participating in LSNES. In 2012, it started to expand into an international network
Right: Field workshop on Ishigaki-jima

Even when a scientifically appropriate solutions to local environmental problems are proposed, it is sometimes not accepted by local communities. This could be due to discrepancies between scientific knowledge production and values, problem structures and decision-making systems inherent to particular local community.

Therefore, this project formed the Local Science Network for Environment and Sustainability (LSNES) as a platform for residential researchers who conduct research as stakeholders of local communities and for knowledge translators and stakeholders in the communities throughout the country. LSNES provides guidelines for collaboration between scientists/experts and various local stakeholders and is developing participatory evaluation systems of local science with stakeholders.

The Nagahama Rules for Genome Epidemiology Studies Open to the Community

Project Director: Keiko AKASHI, Section leader, Nagahama City Health and Welfare Division Health Promotion Section

Residents participating in the research established the NPO Zeroji (Pre-primary prevention) Health Promotion club, which plays an important role in improving citizens understanding for the research by such way as producing a regular project information magazine.

Genome data is said to be the ultimate personal information. Consequently, it is vital for the whole of society to give serious consideration to the ethics and to the issue of how to protect personal information in R&D projects that handle genome data. This project is associated with a genome epidemiology project conducted through collaboration between Nagahama City and Kyoto University ("Nagahama Zeroji Cohort Project for Community-based Prevention"). The RISTEX project attempted to emphasize the perspectives of the Nagahama citizens participating in the research, and for that purpose formulated the "Nagahama Rules" concerning the storage, management, and utilization of samples. The Cohort Project is a long-term project that aims to promote R&D using the genome, and to build a healthy community--it has only just begun.

Legal Decision-making under Scientific Uncertainty

Project Director: Tamiko NAKAMURA, Lawyer, Lybra Law Office

Left: Lawyers, scientists, students, and members of the public join in discussions at workshops and a Cafe for Law and Science Philosophy
Right: The Law and Science Handbook

This project was established to consider what sort of setup would lead to better judicial decisions based on a correct understanding of the fact that science and technology always involve uncertainty. Through this project, practicing lawyers and scientists collaborated to clarify fundamental issues such as what is a trial, what is science, and why do discrepancies occur between the law and science.

The project's findings have been summarized in a "Law and Science Handbook" designed for lawyers and scientists involved for the first time in a case involving science. The handbook helps lawyers and scientists to understand each other and provides hints for how to conduct discussion between them.

Other Major R&D Achievements funded by RISTEX

Long-Standing Tsunami Response and Education Activities Result in "Miracle of Kamaishi"

Project director: Toshitaka Katada, Professor, the Graduate School of Engineering, Gunma University/Director, Research Center for Disaster Prevention in the Extended Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Children heading to safety on the day of the disaster. Older children led younger children by the hand to keep them moving

It has long been seen as a major problem that many people do not sufficiently appreciate the risk of a tsunami and do not evacuate even when a tsunami warning is issued. Professor Toshitaka Katada of Gunma University, working in the RISTEX R&D Focus Area of Safety and Security, developed the Comprehensive Tsunami Disaster Scenario Simulator, which has proven useful for promoting resident evacuation and for consideration of disaster prevention measures by local governments. Since then, Professor Katada, under the Implementation-Support Program, had used the simulator to pursue disaster prevention education activities for residents of the town of Mugi in Tokushima Prefecture, Miyakojima in Okinawa Prefecture, and several other locations vulnerable to earthquake and tsunami damage.
At one place where Professor Katada had pursued this work, Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture, the tsunami that struck as a result of the Great East Japan Earthquake was much larger than planned for in disaster preparation. Despite that, however, 2,926 children, 99.8% of the city's whole elementary and junior high school students were successfully evacuated in what is now called the "Miracle of Kamaishi."

Community-based System for Early Identification and Intervention of Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, whose Item Incorporated in Maternal and Child Health Handbook

Project director: Yoko KAMIO, Director of Department of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry

Learning tool for professionals deployed using e-learning

Early identification of children with autism spectrum disorder, and early intervention to children and their families, promotes the child's social development, and improves social participation and quality of life of the child, his or her family, and for society as a whole.
Dr. Kamio's team has been involved in the Brain Science & Society R&D area, conducting a community-based cohort study over a five year period in conjunction with a local government. The researchers were able to develop and implement an early identification and support system for infants with a typical social development who need support.
Since fiscal year 2009, the results of this research have been deployed under the RISTEX Implementation Support Program, to aim to enhance the skills of primary health professionals such as health nurses and pediatricians, so that they can appropriately evaluate child's development, provide childcare advice, and refer to specialized centers. To enable early identification of children requiring support systematically, these professionals created support network to exchange systematic knowledge and practical clinical experiences using e-learning tools, which contributed to prevail the community-based early support system. In fiscal year 2012, when the Maternal and Child Health Handbook was revised for the first time in ten years, the important item related to early social development was incorporated as a checkpoints at checkup for one-year-old children .

Development of Predictive System to Prevent Trailer Truck Rollover

Project director: Yutaka WATANABE, Professor, Faculty of Marine Technology, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology

Gyroscope unit for system predicting trailer truck rollover limit speed

Trailer trucks transporting freight containers have special issues with the characteristics of the truck body due to the load in the container potentially being off-center or having a high center of gravity. As a result, even when traveling within legal speed limits, there is substantial risk that the vehicle may be unable to negotiate a curve safely without rolling over. Recent accidents resulting from such circumstances have involved ordinary people who happened to be at the scene of the accident.
Working in the Social Systems/Science and Technology for Society research area, Professor Watanabe and his team analyzed the causes of trailer truck rollover and developed a system that could prevent accidents by predicting the limit speed at which negotiating a curve result in a rollover, and warning the driver.
Since fiscal year 2008, the outcomes of this research have been actively deployed under the RISTEX Implementation Support Program, using test drive sessions and talks to raise awareness, and also exhibiting at trade shows and taking other measures expected to lead to wider adoption of the technology. The response, both domestic and international, has been large and positive.
This issue has attracted a great deal of attention from society at large, and has also led to new legislation being enacted and brought into force, requiring owners importing freight to inform truck companies and drivers of the container content, weight, and other information.

Development and Introduction of Systems for Providing Life Recovery Support Measures Rapidly and Fairly after a Major Disaster

Project director: Haruo HAYASHI, Professor, Research Center for Disaster Reduction Systems, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University

Left: Practice at issuing Disaster Victim Certificates at Tokyo Metropolitan Government's comprehensive disaster drill facility in September 2012
Right: Professor Haruo Hayashi describes the system to Naoki Inose, then vice governor of Tokyo Metropolitan Government

After a major earthquake or other disaster, local authorities provide Life recovery supports in the form of monetary support to the people affected, helping them to rebuild their lives. However, that process requires lists of eligible people to be compiled. Systems designed for use in normal circumstances are unable to cope smoothly after a disaster, and there is the issue that there has been no verification of effectiveness or of information security concerning privacy information and similar data.
Professor Hayashi and his team, working in the Information Technology & Society research area, have developed systems capable of issuing Disaster Victim Certificates much more rapidly than conventional approaches enabling people to receive Life recovery support measures smoothly immediately after the disaster, but still maintaining information security.
Since fiscal year 2010, this research has continued under the RISTEX Implementation Support Program, conducting demonstrations and customizations required in order to deploy the systems. In addition to being used in places such as Otsuchi-chou, Iwate prefecture, after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the researchers are collaborating with Tokyo to customize the systems to work with Metropolitan Tokyo's own systems with the aim of being able to distribute Life recovery support rapidly, fairly, and without omissions in the event of Tokyo Metropolitan near-field earthquake which exceeds M7, as is predicted. These systems are already being introduced in the Toshima ward and Chuo ward in Tokyo as well as Kyoto city.

Microbubbles Clean Seawater, Bringing Hope to Aquaculture Producers in the Tsunami Zone

Project director: Hirofumi ONARI, Professor, Tokuyama College of Technology

Microbubbles produce plump, juicy oysters

Ofunato Bay was famous for its oyster farms before the disaster, but since then there have been problems with shellfish toxin and red tides, and water quality has declined. Under the Implementation-Support Program for Urgent Implementation of Support in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, this project has used compact low-power microbubble generators to clean the water, thereby assisting the livelihood of local aquaculture producers. Beginning in early August 2011, 104 microbubble generators were installed in the Takonoura area of Ofunato Bay, running them 24-hours a day until February 2012. By providing a source of good quality oxygen and nitrogen, after three and a half months, oysters had grown to about twice their usual size.
A great deal of equipment had been lost in the tsunami, including aquaculture rafts, boats, and other facilities, and some of the producers had lost their own homes, too. The damage was so substantial that many producers were giving up oyster farming. However, this project gave them hope by demonstrating a potential way to recover the Akasaki oysters that had been a well-known premium before the disaster. In addition to installing similar devices at locations such as Kesennuma and Kamaishi, progress is being made with a new JST Revitalization Promotion Program.

Development and Deployment of Web System to Support Children and Their Parents Contributes to the Quality Improvement of Childcare Professionals

Project director: Tokie ANME, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tsukuba

Childcare professional tries out the support system using a tablet computer

At a time when birthrates have decreased and the population is aging, parents with young children are increasingly likely to feel lonely, anxious, and overburdened. There are also a growing number of children who need special care due to developmental disorders or other factors, and society's expectations for support from nursery staff and other professionals involved in childcare are increasing. At the same time, many professionals are unsure how to distinguish problem behavior in children, identify children requiring special consideration at an early stage, detect signs in parents, or provide quality support in collaboration with other organizations.
This project has deployed the five tools for childcare professionals based on scientific evidence from a 12-year nationwide cohort study. The tools are a general development assessment tool, a social skills scale, a child's home environment assessment tool, a childcare environment assessment tool, and a support tool for children that raise concerns. They have been developed as web applications delivered from a cloud-based platform, and are being deployed using table computers.

Electronic Critical Path System: (FY 2002-2005)

Project Director: Hiroshi NOGUCHI, Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kyushu University

  • indicates all or part of a patient's case record and care plan, developed and used by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals
  • for the team to follow its content and thus to manage their task forces while reducing medical accidents
  • in use at Kyushu University Hospital

Tailor-made Computer Simulations: (FY 2001-2005)

Project Director: Hiroshi NOGUCHI, Professor, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Kyushu University

  • examines the effectiveness of disaster prevention plans for tsunami by visualizing economic/human losses
  • factors in various elements (e.g., timing) of evacuation orders as well as the data for a particular local area (e.g., population, geography, history of tsunami damage)
  • is under development or already in use by a number of cities as a planning and educational tool

Self-evaluation Tool for Organizations: (FY 2001-2004)

Project Director: Tetsuro FUKUSHIMA, Adviser, Japan Audit and Certification Organization for Environment and Quality (JACO)

  • rates efforts in environmentally-aware management work
  • visualizes levels of [1], management, [2], environmental protection and [3], social responsibility in a tree diagram
  • utilized by Sustainable Management Forum of Japan as well as many private and public organizations

Learning/Therapy Curricula: (FY 2001-2004)

Project Director: Ryuta KAWASHIMA, Professor, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University

  • treats dementia and improves social communication skills of elderly patients
  • revitalizes prefrontal functions of patient brains through recitation and simple-arithmetic exercises
  • adopted by 712 facilities with approx. 9,000 users nationwide (as of March 2008)

Support Programs/Network Systems for Children with Learning Disabilities (CLD) using an E-learning System: (FY 2003-2006)

Project Director: Nobuo MASATAKA, Professor, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University

  • based on comprehensive evaluations of the level and specifics of individual learning disabilities of children (i.e., through systematic medical examinations)
  • helps CLD through consistent use of e-learning materials at multiple locations
  • fosters collaboration among the families, schools and communities of CLDs
  • currently being implemented in Nagoya and Kyoto cities.

Multiple Risk Communicator (MRC): (FY 2003-2007)

Project Director: Ryuta KAWASHIMA, Professor, Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer, Tohoku University

  • consists of an optimization engine (computing part) and a negotiation infrastructure (opinion exchange tool among stakeholders and specialists)
  • helps to build consensus among decision-makers by drawing the optimal combination of measures based on information regarding various risks and costs in information security as provided by stakeholders and specialists
  • officially adopted by 95 elementary and junior high schools in Setagaya-ku Tokyo

Social Experiment to cope with Nagoya City's Waste Problems: (FY 2002-2005)

Project Director: Masaharu YAGISHITA, Professor, Institute for Studies of the Global Environment, Sophia University

  • involved 3 parties: [1], stakeholders (i.e., local government, private sector), [2], experts, and [3], citizens, in a new framework for a decision-making method which was formally adopted by the city
  • the framework's policy recommendation (on the directions and ideas for the city as a recycling oriented society) was implemented as Nagoya's waste management policy