The newly appointed head of the Riken research institute has pledged to restore its reputation as a global leader in the field.

Hiroshi Matsumoto, a 72-year-old space plasma physicist who received a state Medal with Purple Ribbon in 2007, made the vow on Wednesday as he succeeded 76-year-old Ryoji Noyori as president of the state-backed institution. Noyori departed on Tuesday.

"Riken has been a top-caliber international research institution . . . able to produce internationally competitive scientific achievements. And it's my mission to build up Riken to become such an institute once more," Matsumoto told a news conference in Tokyo.