Last year, four Japanese scientists, including one who became a naturalized American, received Nobel Prizes. Unfortunately, however, their achievements do not reflect the current state of science in Japan. The government’s 2009 science and technology white paper shows that the foundation for basic science research is crumbling and hints that Japan’s scientific level is rapidly falling. From 1996 to fiscal 2010, the government earmarked more than ¥60 trillion for its three 5-year science and technology basic plans. But it is questionable whether the money spent so far has been used effectively to develop talented scientists.

Of the scientific papers written in Japan, the average frequency of one of them being quoted was 0.94 times in 2007. The corresponding figure was 1.51 for the United States, 1.37 for Britain, 1.24 for Germany, 1.23 for Canada and 1.12 for France. The white paper says that frontline researchers lament the paucity of specialists in basic science.

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