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Grants will be awarded to 133 research and development projects at 56 universities and colleges under an education ministry program focusing financial resources on academic centers of excellence, according to the ministry.

Including those chosen last year, 246 projects at 85 schools will receive subsidies of between 100 million yen and 500 million yen per annum for five years, it said.

The 133 research projects, centering on five fields, were chosen from 611 applications submitted by 225 universities and colleges. They were selected by a panel at the ministry-affiliated Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, led by Nobel laureate Reona (Leo) Esaki, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry said.

The tally consists of 35 projects in the medical field; 24 in mathematics, physics and geoscience; 23 in machinery, civil engineering, architecture and engineering; 26 in social sciences; and 25 in interdisciplinary, conjugated and emerging areas.

They include a Hokkaido University project to control zoonotic infection, Kobe University research on the origins and evolution of the planetary system, and a Ritsumeikan University study on disaster preparedness in old cities boasting a strong cultural heritage.

Research by Waseda University on the creation of a legal system that meets the needs of the changing business world is among the projects that were chosen, as is a Tokushima University study on dietetics and stress control.

Plans by the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University and five other major national universities set up before the war comprised 42 percent of this year’s picks.

Ninety-seven projects, or 73 percent, came from national universities, five came from other public schools and 31 from private colleges.

The panel will review the midterm progress of the 113 projects at 50 universities approved in the previous fiscal year during fiscal 2004.

These projects focus on chemistry, the arts and three other fields.