PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
In 1981 the Japanese government approved funding for a very unusual
(in the Japanese context) basic research program designed to support
unfettered basic research in Japan and to break the traditional
hierarchical structure that exists in almost all sectors in Japan.
Because of the program's bold objectives and its acceptance and
continuing strong support within the Japanese government and science
and technology community, the JTEC team wanted to achieve the
- increase U.S. understanding of this program
- provide insights useful for the U.S. technical community
- identify future opportunities for U.S. participation or
Specifically, the JTEC panel was looking at the overall ERATO
program, not just at the technical results. In addition, many of the
panel's questions, while originally directed at ERATO projects, applied
to PRESTO projects as well. Some of the specific questions the panel
addressed were as follows:
- What is the overall scientific quality of the program? Does this
program foster high-risk, leading-edge research?
- Has the research achieved an international standing?
- Is the research important, i.e., published in peer-reviewed
- Has the research stimulated new lines of research?
- How scientifically sophisticated are the research teams?
- How well does the program train young researchers?
- Does the program encourage independent thinking?
- What value can and does the program have for Japanese
- How much of the research has been continued in other settings,
primarily in industry or universities?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the ERATO
- Does this process foster the success of projects? If so, in what
- Does the program attract top people as directors and research
There was also a set of secondary questions, more related to broad
sociological and cultural issues, that the panel wanted to answer. Some
of these were the following:
- How successful has the program been in internationalizing Japanese
- How successful has the program been in changing cultural attitudes
- Are these changes viewed as positive or negative by the
"establishment" in Japan?
- What has happened to researchers as a result of being involved with
- Can the program be scaled up in funding and in numbers without
lowering the quality of the research?
Published: September 1996;