TOKYO—Physicist Ron Scott returned to the United States in 1980 after working in Japan on a one-year grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation. But two years after going back to work for McDonnell-Douglas, he said with his easy Texas drawl, “I felt I hadn’t seen it all. So I returned to Sendai for six months to write a paper.”

Six years later Scott is still in Japan, working in the northeastern city of Sendai as a research physicist for the Inaba Biophoton Project of the Research Development Corporation of Japan (JRDC). He is one of a small but growing number of foreign scientists who have embraced the chance to work in a Japanese lab. “The idea that Japan is closed to foreign scientists is a myth,” said Scott. “Japan is easily pene- trable—if you are serious.”

Two U.S. universities are developing programs to prepare scientists for work in Japan....

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