Activities of Japanese funding agencies

The public part of the Japanese STI system can again be divided into three tiers: coordination and policy making, distribution of funds, and administration of funds through individual programs:


  • Coordination of research policy is provided by the Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP), based within the Cabinet Office.
  • Distribution of funds and implementation of policies are carried out by the individual ministries. The largest part of the government expenditure on R&D is provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).
  • The administrative and operative level of funding happens through Independent Administrative Institutions (IAIs), who run their own research or coordinate programs for the support of researchers in Japan or in cooperation with partner countries.

 From a pragmatic point of view, this last category is the most important, these Independent Administrative Institutions include the key funding bodies like the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) attached to MEXT and the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) attached to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). A second group of IAIs are independent research agencies directly funded by the ministries such as the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) and the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) funded by MEXT, or the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) funded by METI.

 Schematic depiction of the Japanese STI funding system


Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science

JSPS’s main function is to coordinate and develop a number of scientific and academic exchange programs, both domestic and international. The functions of JSPS also include awarding Grants-in-Aid for scientific research, supporting young researchers, promoting international scientific cooperation, supporting scientific cooperation between the academic community and industry, and collecting and distributing information on scientific research activities.


Japanese Science and Technology Agency

JST aims to give a picture of Japan as a nation built on the creativity of S&T and innovation, by acting as a core organization for implementing Japan's science and technology policy in line with the objectives of the Science and Technology Basic Plan. JST's mission is to promote science and technology in Japan by conducting a broad range of activities, including the following:

  • Promotion of consistent research and development from basic research to commercialization with particular emphasis on the creation of new technological seeds.
  • Upgrading the infrastructure for the promotion of science and technology, including dissemination of scientific and technological information


The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization

NEDO contributes to the distribution of METI funds to S&T research projects under METI’s supervision. NEDO actively undertakes the development of new energy and energy-conservation technologies, verification of technical results, and dissemination of new technologies. NEDO promotes greater utilization of new energy and improved energy conservation. NEDO pursues R&D of industrial technology with the goal of commercialization of advanced new technology. Drawing on the combined efforts of industry, academia and government as well as its sophisticated management know-how, NEDO carries out projects to explore future technology seeds as well as mid- to long-term national projects that form the basis of industrial competitiveness. It also supports research related to practical application


The Institute for Physical and Chemical Research

 RIKEN is a large natural sciences research institute in Japan. RIKEN operates currently with 100% government funding. RIKEN conducts comprehensive research in science and technology and publicly disseminates the results of its scientific research and technological developments. RIKEN carries out high level experimental and research work in a wide range of fields, including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology and engineering, covering the entire range from basic research to practical application. RIKEN plays a significant role in implementing the government’s S&T policies by conducting research in the focus fields designated by the government.


National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

 AIST was created by integrating various institutions affiliated to the former Agency of Industrial Science and Technology and others, and operates as Japan's largest, and one of the world's leading research institutes. AIST explores next-generation key technologies through advanced research in leading-edge industries such as electronics, information, machinery, environment and biotechnology, and through cross-sector research projects. As Japan's "supreme headquarters" for measuring standards and knowledge bases, AIST also conducts research to develop standards for mass and length, and to establish standards for measuring endocrine disruptors.