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Japan Government Science

Japan Plans To Merge Major Science Bodies 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dept.
ananyo writes "In its battle against a sluggish economy, Japan's government is gearing up to make cost savings through a root-and-branch reform of the country's science system, merging some of its most prominent research organizations. Plans approved by the government's cabinet would consolidate the RIKEN network of basic-research laboratories with the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) — the national funding body. But with few details about the timing, potential cost savings or full implications of the change, many researchers are concerned that it could be a recipe for harsh funding cuts and even greater bureaucracy."
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Japan Plans To Merge Major Science Bodies

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  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @07:49PM (#38897785) Homepage Journal

    Merging science bodies. Sounds kinky.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Requires the use of CERN's Large Hardon Collider.

    • ... they really do science !

      Unlike the West, the Japanese do know how to focus on the things they do - including Science

    • Merge engage!

      Super RIKEN NIED Rape JAMSTEC JST Ultra Tentacle HD Science Alliance!!

      This is the time to rock!

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      It's a tectonic shift that will shake the Japanese science community to their foundations. There will be a tsunami of opposition for a short time, but proponents will weather their storm and melt down their opposition's arguments. At the end there will be a vast wasteland formerly occupied by science deniers bereft of ground to stand on, and a triumphant self-sustaining reaction of proponents to carry the flag of fission to Europe and beyond - even if they have to pass through the core of the Earth or the
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Kink may be the answer, then.
      We were discussing just yesterday, in some /. thread about merging disciplines and cooperative work between scientists/engineers/mathmaticians/artists.
      At least getting diverse scientists together is a start. Now to get them to reciprocate with each other on common goals is the real test.

  • Japan needs to stop with the Keynesian nonsense they've been involved with for the past 2 decades, destroying their currency in this currency war, which is won by those, who hurt their own economy the most.

    Trade is not about finding a foreign market for the sake of foreign market. Trade is about comparative advantage and about being able to buy something from people you trade with. NOT their worthless currency, but products that you don't make yourself.

    Japan needs a lot of raw materials and energy, so they

    • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:10PM (#38897955)

      Ladies and gents, roman_mir has solved Japan's economic problems in a single Slashdot post!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Trade is about comparative advantage and about being able to buy something from people you trade with.

      What, pray tell, is Japan's comparative advantage?

      Their "advantage" used to be that they were more efficient than everyone else making the same stuff. With similar labor costs they did it better. Then in the 90s, China and other Third World countries opened up their borders and economies depressing the labor prices - basically. Why be efficient when you can produce something in China for much cheaper than anywhere else? AND even then, the Chinese aren't stupid and are learning from the more developed econom

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        It's not what "Japan's comparative advantage is", which is obvious - their high tech, their cars, medicine, etc.

        It's what other countries can offer as competitive advantage to Japan, which is also obvious - raw materials, energy, probably food.

        If Japan can't compete in terms of reduced regulations, because they are not free enough from their government in their culture, then they should at least be competing with their money - rate of return on investments.

        China gained everything, the entire economy, becaus

    • by santax (1541065) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:30PM (#38898109)
      Japan has the 3th largest economy in the world. They are hard workers, have excellent education, are very smart and highly motivated. They will do fine. Just like they always have.
      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Sure, they will 'do fine', but they could do much better and have even higher standard of living if it weren't for their insane policy of destroying their own money.

        What is hard to understand that they need to buy a lot of commodities? They have a islands, they need a lot of energy and raw materials. Having strong money would let them to buy more.

        If their companies think they need to sell more abroad, they shouldn't be asking gov't to destroy their currency and get more devalued yen, gov't shouldn't be allo

        • Japan thinks its currency is too high, and is hurting their exports. They should create more money.

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Japanese have been listening to the US 'economists' on this, in fact they've taken Bernanke's plan to destroy their currency, which is self-serving for US interests. In reality of-course Japanese are hurting their own people by destroying their purchasing power. If you still don't get it - if companies want to sell more of their stuff in weak currency and thus get less purchasing power for what they sell, they can lower their prices, and the government is absolutely wrong to lower their prices for them by d

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They are hard workers

        Japanese work ethic hides inefficiencies [bbc.co.uk]

        have excellent education

        Japanese history textbook controversies [wikipedia.org]

        are very smart

        Japanese Higher Education as Myth [amazon.com]

        and highly motivated.

        List of countries by suicide rate [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by geekoid (135745)

      See, people like you shouldn't even be allowed to participate in the discussion. You're ignorance is vast.
      Setting aside the fact the Keynesian economist predicted the economic collapse 3 years before it started, and the includes detials on why and which policies woudl cause it.

      They also did it in the 80's economic situation; which was worse then the current one.
      SO it hard for me to dismiss it when it's shown repeated predictive power.

      "who really caused their economy to stagnate for 20 years. "
      WTF? Japans ec

      • by roman_mir (125474) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:59PM (#38898411) Homepage Journal

        Keynesians are not economists, and real economists predicted economic collapse DECADES in advance, at the moment when Nixon took US (and thus the world) off the gold standard.

        Keynesians have no predicting power at all, their 'predictions' are akin to their 'solutions' - start wars, even if with aliens. [youtube.com]

        Japanese economy stagnated awfully, with their productivity prices should have been falling hard and instead they either had stagnating prices or even some rising prices.

        Japan's population problem is not worse than of others, Japan needs strong money to buy commodities, which they lack naturally, and if Japanese companies feel they must sell more in nominal terms, they shouldn't be attacking the currency and devaluing it, they should be dropping prices.

        You probably are completely ignorant on the fact, that for companies to sell more in devalued dollars is worse than to sell more with reduced prices while money is appreciating - the earnings would buy more and competing would be easier.

        h. Another moron wh

        - Oh, just got to that part.

        Goodbye.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Only a profoundly deluded person could think that the vast amount of time separating the predicted crash and the actual crash was a sign that somehow the prediction was accurate. It's actually a sign of the exact opposite.

          According to you, your brand of economists predicted economic collapse in 1970 or so, and then the US economy went through a pretty great period for about 40 years over which period real GDP tripled and real per capita GDP more than doubled. Those are based on figures AFTER the recent rece

        • Japan has deflation, not inflation. Their currency is not being destroyed, they consider it too high.

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            Japan SHOULD have deflation, but they have inflation, because they are creating insane amount of money not to let their currency rise.

            Japanese are very productive and they should enjoy strong yen and falling prices, instead they 'enjoy' inflation created by government and high prices in exchange for all that productivity.

            I know they 'consider' it too high, they bought into Bernanke's plan from over a decade ago, and they are wrong and it's been hurting them for 20 years now.

        • by dkf (304284)

          Keynesians are not economists, and real economists predicted economic collapse DECADES in advance, at the moment when Nixon took US (and thus the world) off the gold standard.

          Quite apart from the No True Scotsman parts of that argument, the problem you've got is that economics is full of faddishness and a tendency to say that reality needs to conform to models rather than the other way round. This means you'll always be able to find some economist somewhere that will say something that you can use to "prove" your point, but actually getting a useful prediction out of them is hard to the point of pointless. Which they won't tell you.

          If I wanted the sort of predictions you're basi

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            There is no need to look for any 'true Scotsman', when the problem is obvious and is always the same:

            1. Government spending is a tax.
            2. Government destroying currency is a tax and causes destruction of economy.
            3. Government regulation is a tax.

            --
            Now, Japan has been suffering for 20 years, they can continue on their current course for another 20 years and another 200 years, or they can admit that they are wrong and stop this nonsense.

            They need to stop their government from destroying their currency.

            In fact t

    • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki.gmail@com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:21PM (#38898529) Homepage

      Your post makes no sense. First you say they need to stop with Keynesian economics, then you go on about stopping them and their ability to print money. Which is a central keynesian ideal. So which is it?

      Oddly Japan seems to be doing fine after learning from their housing bubble in the 90's, which the US didn't learn from. And you believe japanese unemployment is a problem? At 4.3%? Wait, let me guess, you're the same type of person who believes that when it was the same during Bush's term it was disastrous, but during Obama's 10% it was perfectly okay.

      Give your head a shake.

      • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday February 02, 2012 @02:54AM (#38900333) Homepage Journal
        That 4.3% is an absolute lie and the Japanese know it is. First off they consider anyone working even an hour a week as "employed", secondly the number masks the massive number of people(mostly middle aged older men who used to work in factories or were middle managers) they hire to do absolutely pointless shit. In a country with one of the lowest crime levels in the world, they have an awfully large number of security guards. And then there are the guys they hire to go around putting "tickets" on bikes, and the guys they hire to hold signs telling people not to use their cell phones while driving, and the guys they hire to man crosswalks with perfectly valid signals(the list can go on for days), not to mention the massive over-construction and not counting a large number of women as being "unemployed" because they "voluntarily" quit work to have kids. The real Japanese unemployment number is easily over 10%, probably closer to 15%. The US number isn't perfect, but it is a much more accurate reflection of the true unemployment rate than the Japanese number is.
        • by Mashiki (184564)

          The first rule of economics like crime stats that you learn is that rates are calculated differently from country to country. I'd hazard that 4.3% isn't true either, rather it's closer to around 8.5%. Which is still marginally better than the US. The US on the otherhand, is much closer to 16.8%. Canada on the other hand is around 7.8%, though if you figure everything out it's right around 8.3% in total numbers of unemployment.

          That you even say the US number is more accurate is laughable. It's off by nea

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by roman_mir (125474)

        Your post makes no sense. First you say they need to stop with Keynesian economics, then you go on about stopping them and their ability to print money. Which is a central keynesian ideal. So which is it?

        - can you re-read this and try to explain to yourself, how come 2 statements, both of which are true, are contradictory?

        Yes, Japan needs to stop Keynesian charlatanism, which means they need to stop government spending and for this they need to stop printing currency. They need market money, not political money, which means in almost every case that they need gold, not paper.

        Oddly Japan seems to be doing fine after learning from their housing bubble in the 90's, which the US didn't learn from.

        - so you don't know what Japanese zombie banks and zombie corporations are?

        And you believe japanese unemployment is a problem? At 4.3%?

        - that's nonsense. The real unemployment is over 3 time

    • by Guppy (12314) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @11:59PM (#38899551)

      Japan needs to rebuild their infrastructure in many places, so they need to allow their currency to appreciate, so that more investments would be put into it, so they could buy more, and they need to stop listening the insane Keynesian charlatans, who really caused their economy to stagnate for 20 years. Nobody should be bailed out and nobody should be protected from rising currency with government intervention. Having currency fall looks good on a quarterly statement due to more sales in devalued currency, but it's terrible for the actual citizens and consumers, who have rising prices because the government destroys the money.

      You'll be happy to hear that the Yen has been running record highs for many months. It's probably reduced the costs of their recent jump in fossil fuel use (following the post-Fukushima shutdown of nuclear power), but hasn't been all that good for their unemployment rate.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        1. Yen would have been 5 times as high if it weren't for the policies of the last 20 years.

        2. What do you mean: "you'll be happy to hear"? What do you think I post these comments without participating in markets? Really?

        3. Their unemployment is caused by their government destroying their currency, it's been their policy for 20 years and it will continue for another 20 years and 200 years, whatever it takes them to realise, that they need to let their currency go where the market takes it, and in fact they

    • I've wondered about societies that value harmony and falling into line and "the nail that stands up will be hammered down" attitudes, etc. What kind of leaders do they get? I'm guessing they get real sociopaths since leadership qualities go against the ruling social paradigms in those cultures.

      In the US, we certainly have narcissistic assbags who would sell out the country for a dollar as leaders, but leadership here is considered a good thing, and many parents encourage leadership traits in their kids. So

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Whenever a corporation comes to government to have government counterfeit more money and cause inflation in order to "promote more exports", the question everybody should ask themselves is this:

      Why are you trying to lower your prices by destroying currency? Just lower your fucking prices yourself and don't destroy the people's money.

      Of-course the Keynesian charlatans don't understand at all that inflation created by government counterfeiting of currency just lowers the price of things, so price of labour go

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Of-course the Keynesian charlatans don't understand at all that inflation created by government counterfeiting of currency just lowers the price of things, so price of labour goes down (and the Fed says - that's how we increase employment) so with lower price for labour more people MAY be hired.

        - typing too fast, correction, inflation raises price of things, but it destroys purchasing power.

        Inflation destroys purchasing power of individuals, and thus the cost of labour goes down when inflation hits, because employees can buy less with their pay-check.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is the second round of cuts.

    In the first round of hearings rast November, the major cuts recommended at facilities such as the SPring-8 synchrotron in Harima and a pranned supercomputer caused a storm of protest among researchers, but the budgets that incorporated the recommendations refrected only modest decreases.

    Such recommendations are not regarry binding, but they are submitted to the head of the GRU, Naoto Kan, who is also the government's finance minister. Fairure to compry would probably affect

  • Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SeaFox (739806) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @08:06PM (#38897931)

    Japan should merge the Nuclear Science department with the Zoology group.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • ... reading of their "plans to merge major science bodies" sounds like more kink than I ever want in my rope.

  • Yeah, we all know whale, eh what they mean with science.
  • All R&D agencies and funding consolidated in one government department. They said "No Way!". They like the current system because they can apply for grants to multiple sources with the hope at least one succeeds. A Dept of Science would all your eggs in one basket.

    With a single grant source, administrative costs would be greatly reduced at both ends. Current government agencies would hate this too because each one wants to be in control of its own R&D empire.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Centralizing funding mean centralizing control
      With the very large effort to kill science in this country, I would rather it was multiple agencies.

      Plus, each field should have it's own group of people that understand the field the grant is being applied for, and that becomes cumbersome.

      The grant system has some issues, but I feel most of those could be solved with small entities that package the grant application ot the appropriate people with the purse string. The goal being to minimize the scientists time

    • I worked for CSIRO(The Australian government run science organization) as a computer monkey and before the recent government meddling they produced a LOT for the size of the org. (we aren’t the US) The cross communication lead to a lot breakthroughs. Eg A medical researcher was talking to a friend working on hydraulics, noticed the way he has been joining the hydraulic lines and got the idea to do the same thing for major high pressure arteries. It was radical for its time and it worked, took off b
  • me! Cave Johnson.

    "Cave Johnson, we're done here."

  • by toQDuj (806112) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:17PM (#38898505) Homepage Journal

    I can honestly say this is not going to work. The working style at NIMS and RIKEN are completely different, and their administration is completely incompatible. This will likely cause headaches all over. Also, one organization does not improve communication between the scientists. I found at RIKEN that the one group was not allowed to talk to the other group at RIKEN in fear one would be copying or taking up time of the other.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I found at RIKEN that the one group was not allowed to talk to the other group at RIKEN in fear one would be copying or taking up time of the other.

      As a current RIKEN employee, I can only confirm this. My guess is that the government is slowly trying to wean RIKEN off the big money nipple in a 'death by a thousand cuts' sort of way; seriously downsizing RIKEN risks real political backlash (by Japanese standards, anyway), but nobody other than the affected employees and their friends is going to bat an eyeli

  • by HtR (240250)

    If I had a voice in this, I'd vote for Stephen Hawking and Bill Nye.

    Wait, do they have to be alive? If not, I'd vote for Einstein and Newton!

    • by treeves (963993)

      Well how about Emmy Noether and Marie Curie? They were alive at the same time, plus... both women. Make it a three-way, add in Lise Meitner.

  • In its battle against a sluggish economy

    Right... be sure to carefully avoid mentioning stupid huge budget deficits when discussing Japan and its science funding problems. They've only been running giant deficits [tradingeconomics.com] since the '90s, accumulating debt equal to 200% GDP, a ratio worse than any of the European deadbeat PIIGS and twice as bad as the US. Why? Let's see what the Japanese themselves concluded 10 years ago [cao.go.jp]:

    lowered individual income tax ... two special tax cuts in FY 1998 ... permanent cuts in individual and corporate taxes ... frequent economic stimulus packages ... payments to the social security ... disposing of failed financial institutions

    Sound familiar?

    Japan has become so unproductive it now has a trade deficit [japantimes.co.jp]. The first since 1981. Why? Just like us they're busy [wikipedia.org] o

    • by tsotha (720379) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @11:19PM (#38899293)

      I agree Japan is too far in debt, but the 200% number everyone likes to bandy around is exaggerated, as it includes inter-agency borrowing. The net debt/GDP figure is something like 130%.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the kind of reasoning that led Japan to prematurely try to cut budget deficits in the late 1990s, making the economy much worse. If anything, Japan needs to create more money. Money is artificially kept scarce by bankers who claim some sort of divine right to create it and automatically attach debt to it, because otherwise how would they get attention?

  • Japan could save a a small fortune by stopping the goverment subsidy to slaughter whales in the name of culinary 'science'. Especially since the only place they can find them now is ilegally in protected marine parks off Australia in the Southern Ocean.
  • ...they just want to fast track the production of giant mechs?
  • by Ryanrule (1657199)
    I'm starting think there will be no forced mating at all.
  • I work for one of the 5 bodies under Japan's National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), which in turn is under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). It doesn't look like any of the bodies being consolidated are under NINS, but topically, it seems like they'd fall under MEXT, so I'm curious how they're currently organized.

  • This should be done worldwide, not just in Japan.

    Science discoveries should be flagged as GNU stuff, free for all or every country who contribute to the common knowledge.

    But that won't happen anytime soon...

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