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MESSC has made the following improvements in its systems on the basis of the Program for Educational Reform and the deliberations of the consultative committee.
In the past, joint research involving national universities and private sector organizations normally had to be conducted within the national universities. Research could be carried out in facilities owned by the company participating in the project only under exceptional circumstances that necessitated the use of specific facilities owned by the company that could not easily be brought into the university. In March 1997 the relevant notification was amended to allow researchers to go to the facilities of partner companies to conduct research.
In the past, when a national university faculty member took leave to participate in joint research with a company, only one half of the person's leave period was considered valid for calculating the retirement allowance, causing a reduction in the amount payable to the person on retirement. The government moved to eliminate this financial disadvantage by amending the Act for Partial Amendment of the Special Law for Educational Officials for cases in which participation in joint research makes a special contribution to its efficient implementation. The bill, which was put before the 140th ordinary session of the National Diet, was passed in April and has now been promulgated. The fixed-term appointment of faculty members at universities was passed by the same session of the Diet and went into effect in June. The selective fixed-term system provided in this law ( Chapter 2, Section 2, 2(2) ) will also help to promote researcher exchange between industry and universities.
In December 1996 the government amended the notification relating to secondary employment for teachers in national universities who are employed outside of their normal working hours to carry out research and development or other activities for profit-making enterprises. Among the changes introduced is a provision making such arrangements subject to approval in principle. Effective as of fiscal 1997, this amendment also eliminates the previous regulation that limited the number of secondary jobs to seven and the number of hours to eight per week.
In the past, companies engaging in joint research with national universities enjoyed preferential rights to patents resulting from such research for a maximum of seven years. The relevant notification was amended in March 1 997 to increase this period to 10 years from the date of the patent application, with provision for further extension if necessary. This change took effect in fiscal 1997.
In March 1997 related ordinances and notifications were amended to speed up and simplify administrative procedures for the acceptance of commissioned research and scholarship donations. The requirement to obtain the approval of the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture when receiving payments from international agencies and foreign organizations was removed, effective from fiscal 1997.
MESSC has been able to implement these improvements with respect to national universities, and it is hoped that similar improvements will be made with respect to local public and private universities.
Tax reforms implemented in fiscal 1997 include measures to encourage joint research between universities and private sector companies. The joint experiment and research tax system was extended to the end of March 1 999 and expanded to cover expenditures for specific joint research projects carried out in-house by private companies.
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