Since 2006, the Japanese government has steadily invested in neuroscience research. On an annual basis, the government provides ¥30 billion ($290 million) to brain science, or 7% of its budget for the life sciences. Efforts include the formation by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Council for Science of a Brain Science Committee in 2007 and the Council’s 2008 launch of the Strategic Research Program for Brain Sciences (SRPBS). Aims of the SRPBS include the understanding of brain development, brain structure and function, and the development of technologies to study the brain. With a budget of ¥1.7 billion in the first year, the SRPBS’s first priority was the development of a “Brain Machine Interface” (BMI). Led by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International, the BMI project is working to develop a device to measure brain activity. The SRPBS’s second priority is the development of genetically manipulated model animals. The National Institute for Physiological Sciences is leading the development of experimental animals to model brain functions, using apes and marmosets injected with targeted DNA. In fiscal 2009, the SRPBS’s budget increased 35.5% budget to ¥2.3 billion and three new priority areas were added: development of technology for measuring the brain’s role in social activities; research into the functions of the brain stem for a healthy life; and development of optical technology to manipulate the “brain function module.”

Source: The British Embassy, Tokyo

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