Japanese Science in a Global World

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Science  04 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5983, pp. 1207
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192830

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The beginning of 2010 brought good economic news to Japan, which has seen only lackluster growth for the past two decades. Although the country's debt load and deflation remain serious problems, the world's second largest economy reportedly grew in the last quarter of 2009. But that does not mean that Japan is on a route to long-term recovery. Although the science budget for fiscal year 2011 was not severely cut, a worrisome sign was the government's attempts to freeze investment in Japan's science infrastructure (for example, supercomputing) and reduce spending on earth sciences, cosmology, and other fields. These were avoided through the protests of prominent Japanese scientists. The lack of political interest in bolstering investment in science and technology indicates misguided thinking. There is therefore a growing awareness in the Japanese research community that scientists need to become more involved in formulating the country's science policy and in guiding young scientists into international networks that will support a successful global economy for Japan.