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Part 1: Towards the 21st Century
Chapter 2: Science and Technology's Contribution to Human Society in the 20th century and Issues to be Addressed in the Future
Section 2: The Current Situation of Understanding Among the Public About Science and Technology
1. Public Interest in Science and Technology

(1) Public Expectations Viewed from Opinion Polls

The public think that advances in science and technology contribute to "The enjoyment of the life of the individual" and "Material affluence," and have expectations that science and technology of the future will play roles in "Improving safety" and "Improving efficiency."

In addition, an increasing percentage of the public have an interest in science and technology information or would like to talk with scientists or engineers ( Fig. 10 ).

Fig. 10: Public Interest in Science and Technology

On the other hand, the public also harbors anxieties about the advances in science and technology, such as science and technology can only be understood by experts, science and technology might be misused or abused, or they cannot keep up with the advances of science and technology ( Fig. 11 ).

Fig. 11: Problems Regarded by the Public as Accompanying the Development of Science and Technology

(2) Revealing of Problems Between Science and Technology and Society

With the variety of contributions made by science and technology to improving our lifestyles, it becomes clear that the relationship between science and technology and society is facing a variety of problems.

(Bioethics Problems)

There are negative opinions to the application of cutting edge technology to medicine and medical care among the public from the perspective of dignity of life, for example the implementation of prenatal diagnoses technology leads reactions that it will result in discrimination against disabled children.

Many devices like artificial respirators leads to brain-dead states in which the brain function is irreversibly stopped, so that developments in science and technology have accompanied the problem of deciding whether a brain-dead person is dead or not.

(Nuclear Power Problems)

The use of nuclear power is making our lives more convenient and affluent in many aspects, but the fact that Japan is the only country that suffers the damage of the atomic bomb, and the fact that accurate knowledge about radiation and radioactivity is not necessarily present among the general public, lead a deep-rooted anxiety about the safety of nuclear power and a critical opinion of nuclear power.

The sodium leak at the Monju Fast-Breeder Reactor and fire explosion accidents at asphalt hardening facilities, rather than the seriousness of the accidents, had major problems in the method of disclosing information about the accident and the systematic response in the aftermath of the accidents, and the false reporting and cover-ups are added and these accidents become involved major social issues.

Furthermore, the critical accident at JCO Co., Ltd. which occurred last year was caused by ignoring the work procedures manual prepared by the company, so this arouses a crisis of declining in ethics and social responsibility of Japanese engineers.

In order for nuclear power to be accepted by society, the peaceful use and ensuring safety are vital requirements, and it is necessary to disclose information, to increase transparency, to recognize the importance of an awareness of social responsibility and ethics among organizations, engineers and other employees, and to work to enhancing that awareness as much as possible.

(Ability to Produce Goods)

Recently accidents have occurred in the field of space exploitation, nuclear power safety management and railway facility, etc., and anxiety have been expressed about the ability to produce goods, including quality control, an area of Japanese strong point.

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