In a recent Japan Times opinion piece, Takamitsu Sawa, the president of Shiga University and frequent contributor to the Op-Ed of the newspaper, laments the overall decline in research and research at the universities, linking the decline with small government budgets and the 'corporatization' of the national university system.
1. The poor performance shown by Japanese universities [in recent global rankings] is a clear indication of the dwindling standards of the nation's science and technology. A dramatic decline has been noted in recent years in the number of academic papers written by researchers at national universities and inter-university research institutes and printed in science journals. Indeed, the number in fiscal 2008 was 10 percent less than in fiscal 2005.
2. What accounts for this rapid decline in Japan's share of scientific research?
First of all, I would like to point to an unusually small budget allocated to science and technology compared with other countries. In Japan, the amount of public money allocated to higher education is equivalent to a mere 0.5 percent of gross domestic product, which makes it 27th among the 28 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development....
The second factor is the 2004 policy of turning national universities into bodies called independent administrative corporations. Ever since then, university instructors have become so busy drafting documents stating medium-term targets, medium-term plans and annual plans, as well as preparing papers needed to secure funds to make their institutions more competitive, that they have had to drastically sacrifice time that otherwise could have been used for research.
The entire article can be read at Japan Times online at this link: