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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 October 12 - 18  > Nobel Prize winner Osumi warns against policy of seeking short-term results
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2016 October 12 - 18 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Nobel Prize winner Osumi warns against policy of seeking short-term results

October 17, 2016
Osumi Yoshinori is this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. At a press conference held on October 3 for his receiving the award, he criticized the government science policies for seeking short-term results. He said, “We don’t know at first where our research is going but it may become useful in 100 years or so.”

The other day, Osumi was invited to a sub-committee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. There he warned, “The research environment in Japan is deteriorating. If this situation remains unchanged, Japan will no longer produce Nobel laureates in 10 or 20 years.” He expressed his concern over the ever-decreasing government subsidies for state universities as well as over the current tendency to put emphasis only on applied research connected to industries. He called for the need to improve the nation’s basic research by saying, “I’d like you to work to help leave important buds in universities where research can keep going with intellectual curiosity.” His statement was a wake-up call for the status quo in which research from an unfettered and long-term perspective has been degenerated as a result of the government policy of budgeting only for “useful” studies through “selection and concentration”.

The Abe government is further accelerating this policy, forcing many universities into financial difficulty. Hokkaido University, for example, is considering cutting personnel expenses equivalent to 205 professors’ salaries by 2021. In Niigata University as well, it decided to stop recruiting new teachers for two years and caused a loss of several seminars. Tohoku University is planning to serially terminate contracts of more than 3,200 temporary lecturers out of the total 10,000 staff in the university.

Akahata on October 17 said that the government should listen to what the Nobel Prize winner calls for and should review the “selection and concentration” policy. It should also increase the government subsidies to universities so that they can overcome their financial crisis. Only by doing so can Japan contribute to protecting the intellectual foundation which will support the country in the future and help to develop human society.

Past related articles:
> Contingent workers at Tohoku Univ. fighting back against dismissal plan[June 8, 2016]
> JCP opposes plan to cut state subsidy to national universities[December 2, 2015]
> Nobel laureates oppose cuts in science budget[November 26 & 27, 2009]
> Nobel prize-winners are reminder of the importance of state’s role in supporting basic research [October 10, 2008]
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