Science and Technology Research and Development Capacity in Japan

Observations from Leading U.S. Researchers and Scientists

by Anny Wong, Aruna Balakrishnan, James Garulski, Thor Hogan, Eric Landree, Maureen McArthur

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Abstract

This report summarizes the views of 52 leading U.S. scientists regarding Japan’s science and technology capacity in 25 fields of research in life science, environmental science, information and communication technology, and nanotechnology and materials science. Scientists’ responses cover a range of topics, including university-industry research relations in Japan, the caliber of Japanese research scientists, innovation in Japanese research, funding directions, the role of language and cultural issues in Japanese scientific enterprise, and the internationalization of Japanese research. RAND conducted two interview for each field, focusing on four topics: (1) important and interesting accomplishments of Japanese institutions observed by respondents in their field of expertise; (2) evaluations of the level of research conducted by Japanese institutions in the respondent’s field of expertise, with a particular emphasis on Japan’s performance compared to that of other countries considered the best in the field; (3) evaluation of the performance of Japanese institutions over time; and (4) examples that show Japan as an important research player in the respondent’s field of expertise. The criteria used to select respondents were the number and amount of federal research grants they had received, major scientific merit awards they had won, and the number of publications and citations to their publications. Japan was largely viewed as on par with the United States in most areas and leading the world in some others. Japanese researchers were viewed as committed and careful in their work and their research was regarded as solid and of high quality. Nonetheless, respondents observed a lack of depth in Japanese science and technology research and a shortage of original and high-risk research.

The research described in this report was supported by RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE) and the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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