A government panel recommended to Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on Thursday that the government invest 24 trillion yen in scientific research and development over the coming five years, panel members said.

The Council for Science and Technology Policy, which has 14 members, has compiled a basic science and technology plan covering a five-year period, beginning April 1, the start of fiscal 2001.

The plan is expected to be approved by the Cabinet next week, the members said.

The plan concentrates on four areas — life science, information technology, environment and nanotechnology.

It also stipulates the ethics and social responsibilities of researchers, including their duty to publicly report the themes and results of their research projects.

Nanotechnology is the creation of functional materials, devices and systems through the control of matter between the scale of 1 to 100 nanometers and the exploitation of novel properties and phenomena between the same scale. One nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a meter.

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