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                     Japan's Governmental Initiative in STS
                                     Shin'ichi KOBAYASHI
                    Research Center for University Studies, University of Tsukuba
 Center for Technology and Society, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
          RISTEX Research Center, Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society

1. Introduction
            In a modern society, where Science and Technology (S&T) are heavily permeating,
almost all of public issues should be solved with assistance of, and in connection with, S&T.
Therefore, we are facing a critical issue, 'S&T and Governance', including many agendas such
as 'expertising democracy' as well as 'democratising expertise'. Of course, these issues belong to
STS, but also become important issues in public policy. Many attempts have been experimented
among various countries.
            Japan did not have so much experience in these issues. There was little promotion
policy of STS activities with some exceptions. However, Japanese government launched
research programs concerning STS recently. This presentation aims to describe a brief history
and status quo of Japan's governmental initiative in STS, and to make comparison with other
countries especially from the viewpoint of social shaping of technology - relationship between
STS and public policy.

2. Governmental Initiatives relating to STS in Early Days
            Japanese government has a few experiences relating to STS in its history of S&T
policy. Around 1970, the Science and Technology Agency (STA) and the Ministry of
International Trade and Industry (MITI) investigated technology assessment (TA) activities in
the United States, where TA was proposed by RAND corporation and congressional TA
organization was to be established, to introduce TA into Japanese S&T system. Though, there
happened nothing. Japanese government, both administrative bodies and the Diet, did not decide
to institutionalize TA. Though, up to now, Japan has little experience about TA, and we can not
find TA tradition in Japanese S&T system at all.
            Among such conditions, we can find a few remarkable projects initiated by the
government. For instance, the Institute for Future Technology (IFTECH) conducted a research
project, 'Designing Japanese Future Science and Technology System', in early 1970s with STA
funding,, which includes 'Lifecycle of Science', an excellent output of early stage effort
analyzing relationship between science enterprises and science policy. After that project,
IFTECH has been conducting 'Technology Forecast in JAPAN' also with STA (MEXT, today)
funding, which is a repetitive S&T study with Delphi method to investigate future status of
technology development.
            In 1980s, some reports of the Council for Science and Technology (CST), a prime
minister's council for S&T policy defined 'Soft Science and Technology' as a priority research
field to be publicly promoted. The concept of 'Soft Science and Technology' includes STS
activities, while it focused on aspects of 'Science for Policy' and/or rational policy
methodologies rather than 'Science and/in Society'.
            Such Japanese research conditions in those days were far from STS, which was not
surprising because STS had not grown yet not only in Japan but also other countries. However,
it should be noted that TA activities and institutions failed to develop ways to evolve themselves
in Japan, which was considered to affect subsequently relationship between STS and

3. Opportunities just before 2001 Government Reform
            In contrast with such old generation enterprises, relationship between STS and the
government after mid 1990s have been altered radically. In 1990s, there happened many things
relating STS; establishment and growth of STS Network Japan, influence of Yoichiro Murakami,
an important person in Japanese STS, who was nominated an advisor of STA, and so on. Among
such environmental changes of STS, there could be found an attempt to institutionalize STS
from outside of STS community.
            From academic side, the Council of Academic Science, which was affiliated to
Monbusho (the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture), and consisted of prominent
scientists in Japan, started a feasibility study on 'Science and Society' in the framework of 'New
Type of Program' in Grant-in-Aid (Kakenhi) system in 1996. 'New Type of Program' is a kind of
matching fund program, where Monbusho was to establish a new research center in a national
university, at the same time Kakenhi system was to support research funds for a center. It was
the most ambitious and important feature of 'New Type of Program' that the council selected
candidates of new centers in its own favor, in a top-down way without competition. Therefore,
the fact that the council started a feasibility study meant that a great possibility of establishment
of a STS center arose.
            However the feasibility study continued until 2001, a new center for STS was not
realized. There were some difficulties to establish a new center. A concept of new center was not
clear. But, a more critical thing happened, that was Government Reform, in which 'New Type of
Program' itself was terminated. Unfortunately, several year efforts to launch a new STS center
lost a concrete target.
            During such effort, in March 1999 CST organized a tentative 'Discussion Group on
Society and Science and Technology in the 21st Century', which was independent from the
attempt of the Council of Academic Science as mentioned above. In October of 2000, the group
published a report 'Science and Technology Thriving in and for Society', which described
importance of interactions between S&T and society. In line with the report, the Council for
Science and Technology Policy (CSTP), which was established in the reformed government
system as a successor of CTS, defined some items relating to STS in the second Science and
Technology Basic Plan. For example, we can find words such as 'communication between S&T
and society', 'ethical aspects and social responsibility of S&T,' etc., in the Plan.
            While those efforts could not realize institutionalization of STS, it is very significant
that those could contribute to enlarge network of people who recognized and supported STS
especially among prominent scientists and engineers.
            There can be seen publicly sponsored projects relating STS in late 1990s. Among
them, projects conducted by a think-tank, the Institute for Policy Science (IPS), were
remarkable. IPS contracted with both STA and MITI to investigate STS issues as a whole. While
the projects were at a just preliminary stage from the viewpoint of STS research, many young
STS researchers were involved in the projects to map many issues and concepts which appeared
on the STS scene in the US, Europe and Japan. Through this process, STS colleagues found
many important issues to be investigated. Furthermore, such projects meant that STS tended to
be recognized as an important issue in S&T policy among government officers.

            Since the government reform in 2001, STS has taken the great opportunities for
institutionalization. S&T policy intends to emphasize a viewpoint of relationship between S&T
and society. Some STS people were invited governmental committees and councils. Among
them, it was remarkable that Taizo Yakushiji, a specialist in the field of science and public
policy, was nominated as a member of CSTP.
            Furthermore, while the feasibility study in 'New Type of Program' could not realize
to establish a new STS center, there appeared new governmental attempts. These resulted in the
Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), and Center for Technology
and Society (CTS).

4. New Governmental Initiatives (1) - RISTEX
           To cope with the government reform, MEXT was exploring a new and symbolic
domain in S&T policy, where the ministry had to promote collaborative research enterprises
among humanities, social and natural sciences. RISTEX was designed as a result of such
           S&T has deeply permeated thorough a modern society and its presence has had a
great impact on the society. Various issues which occurred in the society were associated with S
& T. In addition, negative impacts of S&T on the society have emerged in accordance with the
permeation of S&T through the society. Therefore, the Initiative of Studies on Science and
Technology for Society (ISSTEX) started from June 2001 as a research initiative of the Ministry
of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, a successor of both Monbusho
and STA) to solve various issues in the modern society and to suggest a new social system.
           ISSTEX is conducted by the Research Institute of Science and Technology for
Society (RISTEX). RISTEX was co-operated by two research organizations, Japan Atomic
Energy Research Institute (JAERI) and Japan Science and Technology Corporation (JST), while
after 2003 it has been operated by JST solely. It is funded by MEXT. The annual budget is
almost 13 million US dollars (in FY2001).
           RISTEX has two characteristics; a (virtual) research institute which has its own
research facilities and full time researchers as well as many university researchers as part time
researchers, a set of research programs consisting of both top-down and bottom-up research

RISTEX consists of three programs:
    1) RISTEX-Forum
          RISTEX-Forum is an open forum to extract essential issues from social problems
    related to S&T to define new research agenda. The primary members are prominent and/or
    promising people coming from academic, industrial, and governmental sectors. RISTEX
    Research Center works to support the forum activities, and to explore ways to manage
    transdisciplinary research enterprises such as RISTEX.

     2) Mission-Oriented Research Program
           The Mission-Oriented Research Program is a program to construct knowledge
     system for solving social issues in a top-down manner, where RISTEX defines its mission
     and project leader without any competition. In the beginning, there was one large project
     related to 'safety' in general, which consists of more than ten sub-projects. The second
     project related to 'security in information system' was added in FY 2003. The research
     term of each project is five years.

     3) Proposal-based Research Program
           The Proposal-based Research Program is a competitive funding program to invite
     research proposals for specific issues, which are important to cope with social problems
     related to S&T. At this moment, there are three research areas; social system/technology,
     low-emission society, neuro-science and education. Around three projects are selected
     each area in each year. The research term of each project is three years. Some new areas
     are to be started next year.

RISTEX has some unique features:
          Due to its comprehensiveness of social issues closely concerned with S&T, research
    activities on the issues cannot be carried out by an independent research institute/team
    with a specific research area, but by collaboration among a variety of universities, public

     research institutes and private research institutes. Consequently, a virtual research institute,
     RISTEX was established for the collaboration.

           In order to tackle the social issues deeply connected with S&T and to harmonize
     S&T with the society, integration of knowledge from natural science and social science is
     vital. Therefore, RISTEX is developing transdisciplinary research activities on various
     social issues beyond the boundary between two cultures.

          Research activities in RISTEX should not be closed in academia, but be open for
     other sectors. RISTEX puts emphasis on collaboration with citizens, private sector and

          An idea of RISTEX is closely relating to STS. While projects should not be, of
course are not, occupied for STS in its narrow sense, STS people play important roles in

5. New Governmental Initiatives (2) - CTS
            The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is the
largest research institute in engineering research in Japan, affiliated to the Ministry of Economy
Trade and Industry (METI), which is the successor of MITI. Affected by the government reform,
AIST drastically changed its structure to make clear its social relevance, where sole pure basic
research hardly continued to exist. Consequently, AIST intended to establish a new research
center to investigate social relevance of technology development, which would be the first
social science research center among many centers of AIST. In October of 2002 formally, in
April of 2003 actually, the Center for Technology and Society (CTS) was established.
            No technological development is in a real sense an innovation if it is not accepted in
the society. Even if it is taken in by the industrial sector, it does not result in the creation of new
industry unless this particular technology is accepted ultimately in the society. Furthermore,
there are cases where unexpected problems arise after the social acceptance of it, due to the
changes in technological, and/or social systems. However, if the society over-intervenes in the
process of introduction of new technology, it may suppress the possibility of innovation, and
accordingly its generation of technological development, thereby inflicting certain loss to the
society. Under such circumstances, the center aims to contribute to both the development of
technological innovation, and harmonization of innovations with social welfare.
            While there are many research topics, almost all of them are relating to emerging
research topics in 'S&T and Governance' including topics so-called;

       Social Aspects / Dimensions / Implications of S&T,
       Ethical, Legal and Social Issues / Aspects of S&T,
       Technology Assessment,
       Social Shaping of Technology,
       Strategic Policy Making in S&T,
       and so on.

While there are many terminologies, these topics are converging into a lamp of knowledge
production. Here, we call it a new type of TA. The activities in the center are seen as 'TA' studies
to contribute to development of both society and technology.
           Major research areas are defined; STS, S&T policy, and Technology Management.
About sixteen researchers are investigating issues which appear on the interface between S&T

and society, social conditions in which technology should be introduced, traversing problems
which have an implicit influence to the issues, and so on. Research topics include; for example,
comparative study of parliament technology assessment system, evaluation of the national
project of photo-voltaic cell development, system of regulatory science, Artist-in-Residence for
Research, labor market of foreigners in Japan, laboratory management, market of renewable
energy in Japan, and so on.
           Major budget is funded by AIST itself; more than 2 million US dollars in FY2003,
which includes an initial building expense, and salaries of researchers. The center contracts
projects with both MEXT and METI-NEDO.

6. Social Shaping of Technology - STS and Public Policy
            From the viewpoint of public policy, the way society shape technology to meet social
goal becomes a more and more important issue. That is called 'S&T and Governance'. An array
of activities mentioned above is examined. There, STS is expected to play an important role to
provide a theoretical and practical basis to enrich such activities.
            We can observe some transitions; technology forecasting to foresight, a classical TA
to a new type of TA, TA to ELSI/ELSA, research promotion policy to strategic policy, and so on.
Furthermore, those are converging into a lamp of activities to investigate social aspects of S&T,
where we examine not only negative impacts of S&T but also opportunities which S&T should
be applied to enrich our lives and society. The activities are done from an earlier stage of
research, and in parallel with its utilization. While these attempts are in transition, we can
extract common features from such activities; transdisciplinary approach, demand side rather
than supply side of S&T, participation, dialogue and learning among diversified stake holders,
openness and transparency, and so on.
            These are observed commonly in the world. But, it is very strange that we can not
find such activities in Japan. Of course, the appearance is different from country to country.
            The Office of Technology Assessment in the USA was established in 1972 as one of
the congressional information agencies, and provided a model of a national TA system. It was a
classical, centralized, institutionalized model of a national TA. At the same time, it became the
origin of science advisory system and regulatory science. Unfortunately, OTA was closed in
1975. Recently, instead of OTA, a more decentralized model of TA has been emerging-
ELSI/ELSA approach. For instance, in the National Nano-technology Initiative (NNI), many
projects that are investigating ethical, legal, and social aspects of nano-technology are funded,
in parallel with funding to promote nano-technology research itself. That is ELSI/ELSA
            Due to deep influences of OTA, European countries established their own Parliament
Technology Assessment (PTA) Systems, which have different features in different countries.
They are relatively smaller institutes than US-OTA. However, they provided a centralized and
institutional model of TA, which has been developing many tools and methods, e.g. a variety of
participatory methods, to meet an emerging situation around TA. In case of Germany, besides
PTA - TAB, we can find hundreds of independent TA institutions; ITAS, VDI, ISI, and so on,
which contract TA projects with local and federal governments. Germany provides an
institutional but decentralized model of national TA.
            As for Asia, Korea is developing its own model of national TA, where the law
defines necessity of TA in its broader sense. The government has responsibility in pursuing
foresight activities and evaluation of impacts of new S&T in parallel with S&T promotion.
However, it has just begun.
            How about Japan? Although Japanese government intended to introduce TA in early
days as mentioned above, Japanese society does not have any TA activities nor institutions,
especially a new type of TA. There is no PTA system, no TA institutions, no ELSI/ELSA, and no
activities to study social aspects of S&T in Japan. There are a long tradition of Technology
Forecasting with Delphi method, while no Foresight type activity is introduced. Participation

methods have been examined, while they have not introduced into formal system. Importance of
strategic S&T policy is recognized, while it is imperfect.
            Japan's changing environment of S&T demands to establish Japanese TA system. The
author heard that there is an attempt to establish a parliament TA body among statesmen.
Relating to such an attempt, Japanese high level people declared at the Davos conference,
September 2003, Washington D.C., to invite an international conference on STS for high level
people on November 2004 at Kyoto. While we can observe signs of change, we will face many
difficulties, due to the lack of TA tradition. The role of STS will be more important in the scene
of public policy in Japan. The RISTEX and the CTS should be pioneers in this field.

About author
Shin'ichi Kobayashi

Affiliations and other academic/administrative responsibilities:
Associate Professor, Research Center for University Studies, University of Tsukuba
Director, Center for Technology and Society, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and
Technology (
Director, RISTEX Research Center, Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society
Council member, Japanese Society for Science and Technology Studies (JSSTS)

Recent representative publications:
Shinichi Kobayashi, International Mobility of Human Resources in Science and Technology in Japan,
pp.109-124, International Mobility of the HIighly Skilled, OECD, 2002
Shinichi Kobayashi, Applying Audition Systems from the Performing Arts to R&D Funding Mechanisms,
Research Policy, 29, pp.181-192, 2000
Jiang Wen, Shinichi Kobayashi, Exploring Collaborative R&D network: some new evidence in Japan,
Research Policy, 30, pp.1309-1319,

Research Interests and On-going research projects:
Science and Technology Policy, University Policy, STS
Non Academic Career of Researchers, funded by MEXT


     RISTEX International Workshop                      explore a new relationship between science &
  What is Science & Technology for Society?:            technology and society have been significant all
                    (tentative)                         over the world. These movements seen as a shift
         contact:               from science for knowledge to science for
                                                        public/society seek for not only a new relationship
RISTEX (Research Institute of Science and               between science & technology and society but
Technology for Society) has run research                also new appropriate scientific/technological
programs since 2001. It aims to solve societal          activities. In the session, it will be clarified goals
issues by a trans-disciplinal approach using            of the activities introducing and comparing
natural and social scientific knowledge and             relevant research programs all over the world.
methodologies. Currently, the research programs
cover risk management, sustainable society, brain       WS Session 2
science, and STS issues.                                Techno-democracy
Because three years has passed since the                Session Coordinator: Prof. Yuko Fujigaki (The
establishment of RISTEX, it has become                  University of Tokyo)
necessary to introduce international perspectives       Possible Participants: Prof. Ulrike Felt (Wien
into the research activities and also to vital to       University)
network relevant scholars internationally.              Prof. Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University)
Therefore, RISTEX is planning to hold an                Prof. Brian Wynne (Lancaster University)
international workshop in this coming December.         Prof. Yukio Wakamatsu (Tokyo Denki University)
                                                        Prof. Michel Callon (Ecole des Mines, Paris)
[Date]                                                       Societal issues with which scientists and
18-19 December 2003                                     engineers cannot deal due to their uncertainty
                                                        cannot be answered by only scientific rationality
[Venue]                                                 but should be answered by social rationality.
San-jo Hall, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo,            Therefore, a relationship between S & T and
JAPAN                                                   citizen as well as a relation ship between S & T
                                                        and democracy will be discussed in this session.
[Program Structure (tentative)]                         At first 'how is social rationality constructed?' will
18 December 2003 (Thu)                                  be discussed, and then a boundary between
 10:00-13:00 Workshop Session 1                         scientific and social rationality examined.
 Science & Technology for/in Society: Emerging
 Programs in the World                                  WS Session 3
 14:00-17:00 Workshop Session 2                         Risk Management and Shakai-Gijutsu
 Techno-Democracy                                       Session Coordinator: Prof. Hideaki Shiroyama
 18:00-        Reception                                (The University of Tokyo)
                                                        Possible Participants: Prof. Frank Fischer
19 December 2003 (Fri)                                  (Rutgers University)
 10:00-13:00 Workshop Session 3                         Prof. Christopher Hood (University of Oxford)
 Risk management and Shakai-gijutsu                     Prof. Lawrence Susskind (MIT)
 14:00-16:30 Discussions (not yet determined)               Risk management is a process to change
                                                        behavior and perceptions related to risks on the
[Outline of Sessions (tentative)]                       basis of social decision-making using scientific
                                                        analysis. It has been a hot issue in which new
WS Session 1                                            relationships between S&T and society are
Science & Technology for/in Society: Emerging           explored. Various means of communication, legal
Programs in the World                                   system, economic instruments like insurance and
Session Coordinator: Prof. Shin-ichi Kobayashi          organizational reform have been utilized as policy
(University of Tsukuba)                                 measures. Hence, 'what kinds of policy measure
Possible Participants: Prof. Hideyuki Horii (The        are there to manage risks?', 'how are objectives of
University of Tokyo)                                    risk management and their measures selected' will
Dr. Miltos Liakopoulos (European Academy)               be discussed.
Dr. Wichin Song (STEPI of S. Korea)
Prof. Rob Hagendijk (Amsterdam University)
    Since the end of last century, movements to


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