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Improving Japanese scientific research infrastructure is important to providing a solid home base for the promotion of international scientific exchange and cooperation.
MESSC is working to improve the overall level of Japan's scientific research infrastructure in order to create a research environment capable of corresponding satisfactorily with research standards in other countries at a time when international joint research is becoming increasingly sophisticated. A special priority in this context is the formation of Centers of Excellence capable of pursuing world-class scientific research in various fields.
Improving and developing programs to invite young foreign researchers to Japan necessitates raising Japanese research standards so that these people can gain international evaluation for the research they do here. Some scientific research organizations in Japan already have considerable experience in exchanging personnel with counterpart organizations overseas. These achievements must be used as the basis for further improving these organizations' ability to disseminate information.
At present, there are international exchange departments or equivalent organizational units in 24 of Japan's 98 national universities and three of its 14 inter-university research institutes. Improving organizations responsible for the administration of international exchange and enhancing training for the personnel involved are essential both in terms of responding to research trends in other countries, and also to enable organizations to respond appropriately to the various needs and circumstances of researchers.
Although the number of researchers spending at least six months in Japan reached about 4,000 in FY1995, national universities and other institutions had only 1,502 housing units available for them. Systematic efforts to rectify this serious shortage of accommodation facilities must be made as soon as possible.
The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science is Japan's core organization for promoting international exchange and cooperation in scientific fields. It is currently engaged in exchange activities with 59 counterpart organizations in 38 countries and one region. It has established seven overseas liaison offices in locations throughout the world, including Washington, London, Bonn, and Bangkok, to gather scientific information from the regions concerned and distribute information about scientific trends in Japan. Compared with similar organizations in other countries, however, staffing at JSPS is still inadequate and needs to be improved and expanded.
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