Rekindling Japan's Spirit

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Science  10 Jun 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6035, pp. 1241
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209050

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At the end of this month, the international bio forum and bio expo Japan convenes in Tokyo, highlighting research, technologies, and biopharma trends from academic, industrial, and business sectors across Asia. For Japan, science is generally regarded as a means for boosting economic growth, and the nation has concentrated on supporting scientific discoveries for commercial applications. Basic science—which focuses on discoveries that explain how and why things work—has taken an unfortunate back seat. Yet, it is such curiosity-driven research that brings about conceptually novel discoveries and innovation. In the past decade, it has been difficult for young Japanese investigators in the life sciences to pursue this important type of science. Solutions to this critical problem may come by looking back in history, to a time when Japanese scientists knew how to appreciate nature and let that joy inspire their work.