Interviewed by Ryosuke Okada and Kazuma Kikuchi
Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Shinji Inoue made the following remarks about the mandatory disclosure of research funds from overseas during an interview with the Yomiuri Shimbun.
International cooperation and exchanges in research activities are indispensable for the promotion of science and technology. But we must prevent the outflow of technology overseas from undermining national interests.
We want researchers to meet their obligation to provide full explanations of their research activities so we can create an appropriate and fair research environment. By revising the guidelines [for public research funding], we will require researchers to declare the sources of their research funds and details of their research projects to bring transparency to research activities.
It would be unfortunate if well-meaning researchers unwittingly permitted the outflow of technology. It is important to have a good system in place so that we can rectify and point out such situations. Researchers who knowingly commit illicit acts may lie about it. But if research activities are made transparent, we can point out problems and discuss them.
We are currently discussing countermeasures with an expert panel. We will decide on the government’s basic policy for calling for transparency in research activities based on a report to be compiled by the end of this fiscal year. Then we will carefully listen to the opinions of academia to formulate solid guidelines with unanimous approval.
I have a strong sense of crisis over the decline in Japan’s scientific and technological capabilities. It would be regrettable if Japanese researchers were joining China’s Thousand Talents Plan because they were unable to obtain sufficient research funding in Japan. We have to secure sufficient research funding and create an environment that enables researchers to conduct bold research.
To achieve that goal, we have set the government’s goal of R&D investment for the five-year period starting with the next fiscal year to a record 30 trillion yen in total, four trillion yen more than in the previous plan, in the “Science, Technology, and Innovation Basic Plan” to be approved by the Cabinet within this fiscal year. We also want to utilize a 10-trillion-yen university fund and allocate the revenue to improving universities’ abilities to conduct research and researchers’ working conditions.