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Japanese basic-research windfall?

Japanese basic-research windfall?

At the Economic Summit in Tokyo next month, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone intends proposing a 10-year, $5 billion Japanese program to fund basic research in other Economic Summit countries, according to a senior official at the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. The diplomat, who asked not to be named, told SCIENCE NEWS that although this program might be coordinated from a center in Japan, "the actual research would be carried out at appropriate institutions elsewhere" within the Economic Summit community, which includes the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, West Germany and additional European Economic Community member states.

The exact nature of the research has not been formally outlined, he says, other than to note that it would focus strongly on disciplines related to biotechnology. They might include not only physiology and biomedical studies, he adds, but also computer science -- such as the use of "artificial intelligence to simulate the function of natural organisms."

"Very often Japan has been criticized as a science eater," he says, referring to his nation's reputation for using primarily foreign science in developing its technology. "But here's a chance for Japan to take the initiative in a field that's still in its infancy." When asked why Japan chose not to spend its money domestically, he says, "Japan is not seeking a Japanese project; our intent is to establish an international project."

The official cautions that the proposal might not "make it to the table" at the upcoming summit because "this is, after all, an economic summit," and "Japan does not want to be looked upon as trying to divert attention from more pressing economic issues." But even if the proposal is aired, he says, it will probably take another year or so to develop a research agenda.

New U.S.-Soviet accord

On April 1 the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Academy of the USSR signed a new two-year agreement calling for scientific cooperation, workshops and exchanges of scientists to participate in research activities in "nonsensitive" fields. Exchanges of individual scientists have been sponsored by the academies since 1959, though at reduced levels in recent years. According to Glenn Schweitzer, whose office at NAS will run the U.S. program, the new agreement differs from previous ones in several respects. For the first time, much of the agenda for meetings of academy officers will be spelled out in advance. Each side will now be able to request the participation of particular scientists from the other nation, and either side can now end programs it deems unproductive.
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Title Annotation:Japanese program to fund basic research in other Economic Summit countries
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 19, 1986
Previous Article:Crisis in undergraduate education.
Next Article:New U.S.-Soviet accord.

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