Science and Technology

November 25, 2015

Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Shunichi Yamaguchi and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Hakubun Shimomura convened the thirteenth U.S.-Japan Joint High-Level Committee (JHLC) meeting in Tokyo, Japan, on October 6th. Drawing on the twenty-seven years of science cooperation under the U.S.-Japan Science and Technology Agreement, the JHLC provides a regular forum to exchange views on critically important science and technology endeavors in our countries, and to identify priorities for future collaboration.

When Prime Minister Abe visited the United States in April to meet with President Obama, the two leaders discussed their priorities for strengthening the bilateral relationship and how our two countries can work together more closely to address critical global challenges. Our wide-ranging collaboration is set out in the April 28 joint fact sheet entitled “U.S.-Japan Cooperation for a More Prosperous and Stable World.”

Of particular note, President Obama and Prime Minister Abe emphasized how our two countries should continue to expand our cooperation in vital areas of science and technology, with the JHLC playing an essential role in these efforts. This JHLC meeting brought together representatives from many government agencies in both countries to exchange views on science, technology and innovation policies and discuss areas for strategic cooperation, including biomedical research and health, data science, high-performance computing, and energy.

The participating U.S. experts represented the Department of State, the Department of Defense Basic Research Office, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program, National Institute for Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The participating Japanese experts represented the Cabinet Secretariat Office of Healthcare Policy, Cabinet Office, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Science, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Recognizing the opportunities and challenges for bilateral collaboration, the JHLC discussion covered issues such as reform of researcher career systems, facilitation of open innovation, cooperation between industry and academia, next generation cyber technology, the role of national institutes and universities in research and development, human resources development for effective project management, and women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The JHLC included presentations on biomedical research and health, such as brain science, neuroscience, genomic medicine, innovative medical technologies, clinical trials networks, optimization of seeds for drug discovery, and use of medical data. The JHLC also recognized the recent establishment of Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development as a new opportunity for collaboration in medical research and development in the future.

The JHLC discussed potential opportunities in the field of data science, including big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and its application to materials science, cybersecurity, material informatics, robotics, and quantum information science. The JHLC reaffirmed that Japan and the United States will work together in these areas.

The JHLC reviewed progress in cooperation on energy research and development, as well as future directions in energy-related science cooperation. Focus was given to continued joint research activities in the areas of high-energy physics, high-performance computing, and clean energy. In this regard, the Department of Energy and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) signed a new arrangement to facilitate scientific and technical exchanges, with a view to promoting collaboration on research and development projects in high energy physics involving the next generation of accelerators, detectors and related science and technology.

Following the formal JHLC meeting, the U.S. and Japanese sides worked together to host the Third Open Forum that included participants from research institutes, think tanks, and the private sector from the two countries. The Open Forum participants noted the positive impact of U.S.-Japan collaboration in addressing global challenges together, the benefits to public health from biomedical research, the significance of data science to better understanding the growing body of information in the world, and the importance of continuing these kinds of dialogues together.

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