Japanese Academic Funding

The September 15 issue of IBO featured a survey of 110 academic and government scientists in Japan about their current funding situation. An additional question on the survey asked respondents to comment on the state of public and government research laboratory funding in Japan. There were a total of 73 comments.

Many of the comments indicated a level of frustration among scientists as they perceive biases as to which projects are awarded funding. The most often repeated comment regarding such perceptions was the observation that certain facilities or laboratories receive the most grant funding. Another type of bias cited by multiple respondents was the emphasis on clinical versus basic research. In addition, these respondents cited the focus on major projects at the expense of smaller projects and a lack of funding options for the latter. Several respondents commented on the need to sustain grant funding for such projects in order to maintain a research base.

Multiple respondents also highlighted recent changes that allow more funding to flow to regional national universities and private universities as opposed to mainly the National Seven Universities, also known as the “Former Imperial Universities.” According to The Japan Times, there are 86 national universities, 89 public universities and 604 private universities in the country.

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