February 8, 2019
Both governments will survey areas of potential overlapping interests.
The Japanese and British governments plan to set up a working-level panel to jointly invest in science and technology research, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The two governments will exchange memorandums of agreement on the issue as early as this month and begin selecting research subjects.
According to sources, six organizations will participate in the panel: the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Japan Science and Technology Agency and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development — all of which provide research assistance — and the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, and Britain’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the U.K. Research and Innovation body.
It will be the first time Japan has joined with a foreign country to establish a bilateral framework for discussing research assistance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed at their bilateral meeting in January to promote joint research between the two countries.
The investments are expected to bear fruit in such areas as artificial intelligence and quantum science. With the rapid rise of China in the field of science and technology, Japan and Britain hope to strengthen their research through cooperation.
Japan has high hopes for the new initiative because world-class institutions, including the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, support basic research in Britain, sources said. Meanwhile, Britain is said to be interested in Japan’s AI and quantum research.
With its withdrawal from the European Union on the horizon, Britain is under pressure to rethink how it cooperates with other countries in the field of science and technology research. It apparently wants to move quickly to strengthen ties with Japan.
According to the science and technology ministry, the top 10 percent of scientific research papers from 2013 to 2015 in terms of how often they were cited included about 6,500 from Japan. China — a nation that throws the entire weight of the state behind science and technology research — had about 26,500 papers in the top 10 percent, of which about 40 percent were co-authored with foreign researchers.
Japan has not been fully able to meet requests from other countries to cooperate on research because international joint research is in reality conducted by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and other entities using their own private funds.
Japan aims to advance joint research by strengthening cooperation with Britain, including coordinating at the government level.