Compared to other industrialized nations, Japan has a rigid employment sector based on lifetime employment. However, this appears to be slowly changing. In the 1980s job mobility in Japan increased as a whole but particularly in the industrial sector. ERATO has contributed to increasing the mobility of young researchers though its own programs and its interaction with various programs with similarities to ERATO.
Two studies undertaken by the ERATO headquarters illuminates this accelerating trend. For example, a survey of 121 researchers who participated in the first five projects reveals that, of the 72 people sent from private companies, 68 (or 95%) returned to their original employers after completing their project (Kusunoki 1995). However, in a follow-on survey of 116 researchers participating in the next six projects, only 39 out of 52 industry researchers (or 75%) returned to their companies. The others went to a wide variety of institutions (ERATO 1995b).
Moreover, of the 37 researchers who came from academia (many held untenured postdoctoral positions) 33 (or 89%) changed jobs following the completion of their projects. These researchers went to the following types of institutions:
A follow-on study of their career paths would be very useful in evaluating the unique "training" that the ERATO experience is assumed to impart to its participants.