Chairman Teruo Kishi of the World Innovation Culture Center (WICC) (Professor Emeritus of the University of Tokyo and President Emeritus of the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), and the five other representatives of the WICC met with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Prime Minister's Office on September 14, and handed over their 'Recommendations on Future Science and Technology Policy,' including the establishment of a national AI strategy and empowering of science and technology advisors.
In addition to Kishi, the attending WICC representatives were Ken Sakamura (Dean of the Faculty of Information Networking for Innovation and Design at Toyo University); WICC Vice-Chairman Michinari Hamaguchi (Director General of the Strategic Center of Biomedical Advanced Vaccine Research and Development for Preparedness and Response (SCARDA) at the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED); Science and Technology Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, WICC Vice-Chairman Yoichiro Matsumoto; WICC President Koichi Miura; and WICC Executive Director Yasuo Sakamoto (Advisor to Sompo Japan Insurance).
WICC has made numerous recommendations to the Prime Minister to date, intended to achieve the goals of Japanese science and technology as defined within the framework of the Basic Act on Science and Technology, successfully leading to the increase of relevant funding, as well as to the appointment of science and technology advisors in certain ministries. Nowadays, as international competition intensifies, WICC representatives are concerned about Japan's diminished vigor in science and technology activities, especially in the field of information sciences, and in renewing their recommendations, they emphasized the need to pursue nonsequential and bold policies, rather than merely carrying on their existing policies.
The recommendations call for empowering science and technology advisors, strategic promotion of science and technology diplomacy, making the most of budgetary resources, developing human resources in information technology, and establishing a national AI (Artificial Intelligence) strategy.
Science and technology advisors have already been appointed to the Cabinet Secretariat; the Minister for Foreign Affairs; and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the recommendations propose that advisors should be assigned to the other ministries and agencies as early as possible. WICC also proposes the establishment of a 'Science and Technology Advisory Council' consisting of advisors to various government ministries and agencies.
The recommendations note that the total science and technology budget to date under the 6th Science, Technology and Innovation Basic Plan amounted to approximately 21.9 trillion JPY, including the initial budget for FY2023, which has demonstrated steady progress, but the question remains how to make the most of the increased budget to generate innovation. The recommendations stress the following necessary actions: to empower female scientists, to exploit foreign talent, to develop the human resources in information technology that Japan lacked, to rapidly increase the number of doctors in informatics, and to establish women's colleges of information sciences.
Furthermore, noting that Japan is said to "have lost the digital war," the recommendations assign primary blame to the delay in response to the Internet in the 1990s. The recommendations propose, therefore, that as AI in the future is expected to have a greater social and economic impact than the Internet, the world's most advanced 'AI Nation' should be developed by placing particular emphasis on AI as well as strategically capitalizing on it. Specifically, the recommendations call on Japan to lead the 'Hiroshima Artificial Intelligence (AI) Process' and to promote the 'National AI Strategy' as soon as possible, including the following three special actions, among others. The proposed actions are: (1) to create a 'Strategic AI Research Institute Integrating Humanities and Science,' (2) to set up an 'AI Special Zone,' and (3) to construct a 'Whole Earth Crystal Globe (global simulator)' and develop its domestic base.
This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. (https://sci-news.co.jp/). Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.