Japan’s Contribution to World Research

Since the 1980s, Japan has emerged at the forefront of research in several fields and has made path-breaking contributions in the global arena. This is the outcome of significant investment in R&D activities and the centers of excellence in the form of more than 30 leading universities. In fact, together with the U.S. and Europe, Japan ranks among the topmost countries as a proven leader in the global effort toward research and development.

International recognition of Japan’s contribution to World Research

Expectedly, Thomson Scientific, a leading provider of information solutions, has repeatedly recognized Japan’s ongoing impact on global research through the years. In 2007, 17 leading Japanese scientists were honored with the Thomson Research Front Award. The selection was made on the basis of an analysis of communication among scientists and the fact that the Japanese scientists published research papers that were among the most highly cited papers around the world.

More recently, in December 2012, Japanese organizations dominated the Top 100 Global Innovators list announced by the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading featured provider of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. While the U.S. led globally with 47 organizations in the list, there were 25 Japanese organizations out of a total of 32 organizations from Asia. Such recognition shows that Japanese researchers and innovators are at the forefront of global research.

While Japan’s excellence in electronics is a well-established fact, researchers in Japan have a proven track record in the fields of medicine and science, as evident in the long list of Nobel laureates from Japan.

Japan has particularly excelled in medical research in the streams of nuclear medicine, cardiovascular diseases, infectious diseases, and rheumatology. A database analysis of research papers in nuclear medicine published in reputed research journals during the 1990s shows that Japanese researchers contributed more than 11% of the total papers and rank second behind the U.S.

It might be logical to assume that the excellence of medical research in Japan is a direct result of the increasing investment by both public and private sectors in the field of biomedical R&D. Not surprisingly, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on January 2, 2014, reveals that such investment from the private sector surged from $20.9 billion in 2007 to $27.6 billion in 2012. At the macro level, Japan’s total spending on medical research increased by $9 billion and accounted for 13.8% of the world’s total research spending. To put things in perspective, the study emphasizes that the U.S. had a reduced spending on medical research over the same period.

Japan’s capacity to innovate, coupled with researchers par excellence, can surely lead the country to scale newer heights in research and to continue its contribution to the global research pool.


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