TOKYO—Stung by foreign criticism of its scant contributions to basic research, Japan has taken steps to break down its traditionally rigid system of funding university research and to launch new ventures. Budget figures released this summer show that government support is strongest, in fact, for the least traditional of the new programs, some of which involve substantial foreign participation.

The Science and Technology Agency (STA) achieved a 23 percent increase in funds for its nontraditional research programs, the seven-year-old BRATO “creative science" project and the new Frontier Research Programs. For the same period, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (Monbusho) reported that its budget for traditional university grants rose just 3.6 percent. And the equally conventional Research and Development Project of Basic Technology for Future Industries, run by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), was trimmed 12 percent, leaving its future clouded.

The ERATO projects are intended...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!