Japan: Science And Technology: Going International To Drive Growth

British Embassy Tokyo

June 2013


For Japan, S&T is key to Abe’s new growth strategy. The government has already launched a science strategy aiming to boost international collaboration and double the number of foreign patent applications. Increasingly influential Council for Science and Technology Policy to provide greater strategic direction and drive growth.


Japan’s Comprehensive Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy was approved on 6 June. This outlines long term future priorities and a programme of activities aimed at strengthening Japan’s position as a world leader in science and innovation. It will be a key part of the Growth Strategy Abe announced on 14 June.

A new international approach

Targets for increasing international S&T collaboration include international researchers occupying 30% of staff positions at leading research organisations by 2030. The strategy aims to stimulate collaboration between academia and industry to drive innovation, with a target to double the numbers of foreign patent applications and collaborations lasting more than 3 years. The Government wants individual companies and universities to interact with overseas counterparts to make Japan more competitive in the global knowledge economy.

The strategy maintains the focus on using S&T to tackle the challenges outlined in the Japan’s Fourth Science and Technology Basic Plan published last summer. These include: developing clean, efficient energy systems; sustaining a healthier, longer living population; reconstruction and regeneration; and building resilience into the next generation infrastructures (including ICT).  For example, by 2030 the Government wants Japan to have the world’s highest healthcare standards and most competitive healthcare industry. Investment in development of technology for next generation infrastructure is planned, with the aim of Japanese innovations being adopted as the international standard.

Controlling and coordinating across government

State support for S&T research has traditionally been spread across a wide range of Ministries, with varying levels of strategic direction. Abe wants government to provide greater leadership, and use S&T to supports his broader efforts to boost the Japanese economy. He now chairs monthly meetings of the Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP), with relevant ministers and executive members attending. The CSTP is responsible for research and technology policy formulation and allocating the budget for implementing these policies. Under the new strategy, it should receive a ¥50 billion (c.£300M) budget ‘skimmed’ off other Ministries’ budgets to strengthen its role as the ‘control tower’ for science policy in Japan.


UK-Japan cooperation on S&T is already strong. UK expertise is respected here, and we are plugging into the discussions now underway on how to ensure Japan develops its international engagement on science and uses this to promote growth.


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