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Research and Innovation in Japan
Japan, the third-largest economic power in the world, is Asia's trendsetter and core innovator. This is impressively demonstrated by record figures for spending on research and development, record numbers of patent applications and ground-breaking innovations in the field of automotive technology, information and communications technology, robotics and many other sectors. Japan, however, is faced with a number of significant challenges: A highly developed industrial nation with a shrinking and ageing population, an urgent need for reform, a shortage of raw materials and increasing competition from low-cost growth markets in neighbouring emerging economies. Like Germany, it is a country whose future will be determined largely by its strong innovative capabilities.
The importance of science and technology is coming increasingly to the fore as the driving force for economic development. The Japanese government therefore considers it necessary to strengthen its support for technological innovations through the reinforcement ob basic research and a range of applied research projects. More risk capital, diverse interdisciplinary approaches, improved knowledge management and international exchange, cooperation and standardisation are key components of various different programmes.
For years the Japanese government and Japanese businesses have channelled large sums of money into targeted research and innovation activities which focus on practical implementation and commercial viability. Looking at total expenditure on R&D in Japan, investment has been increasing for years, both in absolute terms and as a share of the gross national product.
In the 2008 fiscal year, the state, industry and other institutions together spent around 18.8 billion yen on R&D, which equates to approximately 3.8% of the gross national product.