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Part 1 Using Knowledge to Create Society and Economy for a New Era

In Japan, with the achievement of a scientifically and technologically creative country as a basis, in accordance with the second Science and technology Basic Plan formulated in 2001, in this century, referred to as the "century of knowledge," reform in science and technology systems is underway striving to achieve "a nation advancing with international competitiveness and sustainable progress," in addition to the achievement of "a nation creating and utilizing new knowledge and wisdom," and "a nation securing comfortable, safe and high quality life," by creation, accumulation and the wisdom to effective utilization of wide-ranging knowledge. In addition, in the reform of central government, national research institutes were converted into independent administrative institutes, and a basic approach was indicated in March 2002, which entails the corporatization of national universities.

In the policy of corporatizing national universities, a blueprint for organizational administration has been indicated which enables the establishment of dynamic and flexible administrative framework according to the characteristics of individual universities, and enables flexible organizations and diverse activities. It also advocates that the status of staff be non-public service type, to enable more diverse activities on the part of research and teaching staff. These changes have great significance in improving the consciousness of social contribution by returning research achievements to society among university researchers, and in removing restrictions on their activities. It is also important that competition between universities, both public and private, be stimulated.

The Basic Plan also advocates the strategic prioritization of science and technology, and places particular priority on four sectors: life sciences, IT, environmental science and technology, and nanotechnology and materials. The government must indicate a concrete blueprint for society and economy of the future, and direct its path.

Innovations cannot be created by "knowledge" alone. "Wisdom," "intelligence" are also vital.

In Japan in particular, there are few cases of young people and other individuals creating outstanding "knowledge" and starting up companies in society. Entrepreneurship is accompanied by high risk, but in Japanese society there are few opportunities to attempt such activities, and mechanisms to promote such activities are inadequate. It is therefore extremely important to reduce risk and create an environment in which more individuals can give full play to their own "knowledge."

Market acceptance is another essential element for the success of innovations, and when considering market acceptance, the public's interest, concern and potential for new products is great, and the capacity to accurately judge this value is necessary. There is also a need for society to have a flexible structure. At the same time, the innovations created must be in harmony with the environment and with social ethics.

In order to further stimulate the creation of innovations in the future, it is not sufficient simply to promote research and development. Wide-ranging and comprehensive initiatives that take in society as a whole are required.

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