Thursday, January 14, 2010

Japan's 2010 Science Budget

Surprise surprise, the Japanese science budget is nowhere near as severely cut as several rather breathless articles had anticipated. According to Science:
"the overall total has probably not decreased," says Koichi Kitazawa, president of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, which administers government grants.
But there are of course winners and losers. We (JAMSTEC) seem set to lose 6%, but they were already planning for a 3% drop, so although this may be difficult for some, it's unlikely to be a devastating blow to the organisation. Note that this news relates to the direct Govt support, the 10% increase I mentioned before is for a much smaller (but still rather substantial) soft money project. (We just heard that another big soft money project is flat for the coming year.) What they take with one hand they will probably manage to give back with another anyway:
Increased support for emerging fields should compensate for areas being cut, says Kitazawa. Gaining ground, for example, are green technology programs; money for initiatives under the education ministry will nearly triple this year to $107 million.
Some of the other major science projects that had been in the news will also face some modest cuts (eg the supercomputer), but that probably just means they will have a little less spare money to waste on end-of-year nonsense.
It also seems that the style of the new Govt is still causing some problems...
With the new party bypassing the bureaucrats, Taira says scientists need to find new ways to influence policy. "Exactly how we're going to do that, we don't know yet," he says.
Scary to think that politicians are actually starting to make decisions...

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