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Developing critical technologies for safety and security: Basic plans by the Cabinet Office for establishing a think tank


What kind of think tank should be organized to conduct research on critical technologies for Japan to strategically develop, ensuring its safety and security, as well as related domestic and international strategies?

The Cabinet Office has decided on the basic plan for a "Think Tank on Safety and Security." Initially, the Cabinet Office will manage this think tank, and in two to three years, a new organization will be set up based on applicable legislation.

Sanae Takaichi, Minister of State for Economic Security, stated, "We would like to proceed in earnest with detailed preparations for the establishment of the think tank while advancing activities necessary for its core functions, such as human resource development and proactive research, as part of contracted projects."

The think tank will provide necessary information and advice for the Key and Advanced Technology R&D through Cross Community Collaboration Program (K Program), as well as acquire information and make recommendations to determine the research and development direction that Japan should pursue while considering the global economic and security landscapes.

To this end, research networks with relevant foreign and domestic institutions will be constructed, and new tools for analyzing information and training human resources will be developed. Relevant information will be obtained mainly from open sources (e.g., various published materials, databases, and workshops). Undisclosed information will be gleaned through human networks (e.g., domestic and foreign government agencies) and in cooperation with overseas diplomatic missions. Closed discussions with overseas partner organizations are anticipated.

Since give‐and‐take is important for gathering information, information that should not be disclosed, such as sensitive information, should be strictly managed. Further, various types of information that have been analyzed and compiled should be utilized proactively. The think tank will steadily analyze R&D and technology development trends, international situations from the perspective of the social sciences, the economy, and related legal systems. Additionally, it will evaluate Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) and technological dependency levels, as well as identify and analyze seeds for R&D and technology and the needs of the sector.

Future plans include developing new analytical methods, such as data science and scenario analyses, as well as strengthening the matching function through the sophistication of methods for "visualization" of potential development seeds. To ensure that the think tank provides timely and appropriate input to the government, analyses will be undertaken to make sure that the outputs are tailored to the respective policymaking layers.

In preparation for the think tank's establishment, human resources from Japan and overseas who can make immediate contributions will be recruited. Additionally, the plan involves actively leveraging a young workforce and promoting personnel training and skill development through on‐the‐job training, involving actual research. In the future, the think tank will launch a human resource development program and degree programs.

Funding and start‐up support functions have also been considered, but as the establishment of the think tank should be an urgent priority, these functions will be explored in the future. The think tank will be set up as a corporation by law to ensure its credibility regarding information security and collection, flexible personnel and payroll systems, and the installation of a mechanism by which the government's policy is reflected in its outputs. Partnerships with domestic public think tanks will be established for governance purposes.

The Cabinet Office will have jurisdiction over the organization and responsibility for funding its own projects and operating costs. For research conducted in response to the needs of specific government agencies, such agencies will prepare the necessary budgets. Until the think tank is in place, the Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Cabinet Office, Government of Japan, will form a structure whereby the core activities (e.g., research) will be undertaken through a contracted project (Think Tank Function Fostering Project).

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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