TOKYO—As Japan tries to spend its way out of economic stagnation, its scientists are poised to share in the bounty. Government agencies unveiled their 2014 budget requests last week; the Ministry of Education is seeking a 20% increase, to $12 billion, for S&T funding. But one government initiative is ruffling feathers in the scientific community: A new Cabinet-level team is calling for a collection of biomedical research projects intended to form the nucleus of a Japanese version of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
While the U.S. agency ranges across basic, translational, and clinical research, Japan's will stress outcomes. "Many researchers agree on the need to better connect basic [biomedical] research and clinical research," says Takashi Onishi, an engineer who is president of the Science Council of Japan, the nation's largest grouping of researchers. But he says the scientific community has had little input into the planning process so far, leading to fears that basic research could suffer.