With 220%, Japan has the highest public debt to GDP deficitworldwide. At the same time the government is fighting with anaging population that it expects to shrink by 1/3 until 2060. Thisstrains both public budgets and quality in higher education ashighlighted in a recent Astronomy
Slashing wasteful spending
Now, the government announced to consolidate its budget with taxhikes and spending cuts. One major target will be the Japaneseresearch industry. Policymakers want to merge the five largestpublic R&D institutes into one in order to save money onoverhead costs and enhancing governance.
Cutting costs at the expense of researchoutput
Researchers, however, warn that this cost-saving move might goat the expense of overall output. “The plan isn’t intended toimprove the research system. Each of the institutes hasfundamentally different characteristics, so I feel they would bevery difficult to integrate effectively,” stated Tasuku Honjo,molecular biologist at Kyoto University and former member of thegovernment’s science advisory body
NIMS President, Sukekatsu Ushioda, criticizes governance changesthat will be part of the reform package. “Currently, the NIMSpresident has sufficient authority, so the decision-making processis fast. We at NIMS can often take new actions shortly after aboard meeting. But if a higher management is added above NIMS, thedecision-making would be slower and it would be difficult to takedynamic approaches.”
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