Koshiba's winning of Nobel Prize shows importance of basic science

Koshiba Masatoshi, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and Tanaka Koichi, engineer at Shimadzu Corp., won Nobel Prizes in physics and chemistry respectively.

Akahata on October 10 reported that Japanese people are proud and pleased that Japanese scientists have been awarded the most authoritative prize in natural science and that the young generation are inspired to be ambitious in future endeavors.

Koshiba said he wishes that from now on basic science research, which is now being taken lightly, will be promoted more vigorously. This is a common wish of all researchers in basic science.

In July 2001, major basic science research institute directors held an urgent press conference, expressing concern that the government led by Prime Minister Koizumi Jun'ichiro intends to cut the national budget allocation for basic science research on the grounds that scientific and technological research to help strengthen Japan's industrial competitiveness are more important.

They warned that such a government policy will only undermine Japan's fertile ground for "science and culture" and "science and technology."

The government policy on science and technology encourages research institutions and researchers to achieve results as soon as possible.

Four years ago, the government announced that it would cut budget allocations by 15 percent for the Super Kamiokande (the neutrino-detecting observatory where Koshiba conducted his pioneering work), the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, and other important research institutions.

Fortunately, this plan was withdrawn, but the government is still complaining that Japan's universities put too much value on basic research.

At the request of major companies, the government encourages universities to carry out joint study and research projects with companies.

Noyori Ryoji, the Nagoya University professor who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry last year, criticized this, saying that universities must not work as company's subcontractors.

Prime Minister Koizumi and his government ministers should respond to the requests of Koshiba and other basic science researchers. (end)