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Scientific Research: Opening the Door to the Future
Chapter 1 Conceptual Foundations for Promoting Scientific Research
Section 2: The Contribution of Scientific Research to Establishing a Nation Based on the Creativity of Science and Technology
2. The Importance of Basic Research

Universities provide an environment in which researchers can engage in wide-ranging research without restriction on their ideas and concepts, and in which the fruits of such work can be utilized systematically in education to develop human resources to contribute to all sectors of society.

Fundamentally, research should be viewed comprehensively, as the composite of activity spanning a wide spectrum of fields, including the humanities and social sciences. Because of the distinction between acquiring knowledge and putting it to practical use, however, research has traditionally been divided into categories like basic, applied, and development research ( Chapter 2, Section 2(1) ). Of expenditures for natural science research in Japanese universities in fiscal 1995, basic research accounted for 53.0%, applied research for 37.6(~o, and development research for 9.3%. The corresponding ratios for companies were 6.6%. 22.0%, and 71 .3% respectively ( Figure 2-7 ).

Universities thus play a central role in basic research in Japan, a role that other organizations cannot, in fact, be expected to fulfill. At the same time, universities integrate basic research with applied and development research and constantly return the results to society through education and human resource development.

The importance of basic research is described as follows in the Science and Technology Basic Plan and the German Science Council's "Theses for Research In the Universities," published in 1996.

Science and Technology Basic Plan

The goals of basic research are to discover new laws and principles, develop original theories, and predict and discover unknown phenomena in an effort to answer questions about the origins of matter, the behavior of the universe, and the phenomenon of life. The results of such research have intrinsic value as shared intellectual assets that contribute to the advancement of human culture. They can also instill hope and pride in a nation's people. Sometimes new research findings can have a great impact on society by leading to revolutionary changes in technological systems or by creating totally new fields of technology. Moreover, a profound understanding of nature and humanity is a major prerequisite if humanity is to achieve continuing progress while maintaining harmony with nature. In view of the importance of these contributions, we will actively promote basic research.

The German Science Council's "Theses for Research in the Universities" (Thesen zur Forshung in den Hochschulen)

Basic research is prerequisite to the development of wide-ranging knowledge. Over the long term, basic research assures scientific and technological innovation and the ability to put it to practical uses. Because basic research has this significance, its promotion must not be limited by standards derived directly from evaluation... Universities are the most important centers for basic rein terms of economics, industry, or technology. search that researchers conduct of their own volition.... Research carried out in universities not only contributes to the advancement of knowledge in specific fields, but also ensures the regeneration of existing knowledge, laws, and theories in all fields.... The benefits of basic research cannot be achieved through shortterm subsidization, and the need for a certain degree of flexibility with regard to time frames must be taken into consideration. Sustained subsidization contributes to the efficient allocation of funds in the long run. Applied research in universities is closely linked to basic research in a relationship characterized by fluid shifts. An important prerequisite to pursuing applied research is to establish effective cooperative ties with those outside the university who will utilize the results. [Translated from Japanese. Trans.]

"Science in the National Interest," a report issued by the Clinton Administration in August 1994, identifies investment in science as America's top priority for the future. The report emphasizes the vital importance of on-going investment in basic research and makes a number of recommendations, including the establishment of targets for basic research and education, and, to achieve those targets, the development of closer cooperation between the federal government and industry, universities, schools, and local governments. In "Endless Frontier, Limited Resources," a report published in April 1996 in response to a question from the President, the Council on Competitiveness calls for enhancing universities' human resource development and educational functions vis-a-vis science and technology, and for closer cooperation between universities and industry.

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