Message from the Director-General

Message from the Director-General

April 1, 2024
Director-General: Fujiki Kanji

We are almost a quarter of a century into the 21st century, but the international situation has changed rapidly. With those changes, Japan is finding its position in the world also changing significantly. In such situation, in order to create a sustainable world, it is extremely important for countries and regions around the world to understand each other's situations and differences, to build a sense of mutual trust, and to attain social changes through science, technology and innovation.

Globally, however, the reality is that new scientific discoveries and technological innovations from Japan have relatively declined over the past 20 years; Japan's contribution to global science and technology is declining. This is caused by many factors, but I would like to pay particular attention to the fact that the number of young and excellent talent who should lead the creation of science and technological innovation is decreasing in the fields of science and technology in Japan. Also, Japanese scientific and engineering people are not adequately able to participate in the global science and technology network.

In light of this situation, in 2014, JST launched the Sakura Science Exchange Program as an international youth science exchange program that invites the world's talented young people to Japan for a short period of time with a long-term perspective. The goal is to allow them to come into contact with Japan's leading-edge science and technology and to promote interaction with young people in Japan. This program provides an opportunity for young science and technology people both domestically and abroad to understand each other and to build strong and lasting relationships. It is also expected that Japanese science and technology people will broadly participate in a wide range of networks around the world through this program. Already, over the past decade, approx. 40,000 young people from 83 countries and regions around the world have participated in this program. Networks have been formed between domestic and foreign universities, research institutions, local governments, private companies, and other relevant parties.

Conversely, in recent years, new challenges have arisen, such as the expansion of international brain cycle and the intensification of global competition for the acquisition of excellent human resources in order to create scientific and technological innovations. Based on the wide range of implementing organizations and human networks and the like in Japan and abroad accumulated over the past decade, I believe it is important strategically to respond to these new modern issues and once again increase the understanding and interest of society and industry in the Sakura Science Exchange Program.

As one part of this, JST will start Networked Exchange, United Strength for Stronger Partnerships between Japan and ASEAN(NEXUS)as a new project for ASEAN from 2024. In this project, our goal is to deepen the exchange of young human resources and promote international brain cycle while cooperating with other programs in JST and utilizing other existing networks in ASEAN in Japan, based on the institutional and human networks we have built with ASEAN through the Sakura Science Exchange Program. Furthermore, with regard to India, which has many excellent scientific and technical people, and Africa, which is growing rapidly, we are also considering plans to expand new exchanges.

2024 is also the first year to start off our next decade for the Sakura Science Exchange Program. In order to meet the expectations of all the relevant people who are engaged in international youth science exchanges, we would like to contribute to the development of science, technology and innovation in Japan and the world with the full strength of our headquarters. I hope you all will continue giving us your understanding and support.