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Japan’s new leadership to boost science

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which regained power in a 16 December election, finalized a proposal for a ¥10.3-trillion (US$115 billion) supplementary budget on Friday. The supplementary budget, the second largest in the country’s history, reverses the path of austerity followed by the LDP’s predecessor, the Democratic Party of Japan, which decreased funding for some research projects and lowered many scientists’ salaries. Expected to be approved by parliament in mid-February, the supplementary budget aims to decrease energy consumption, encourage environment-friendly industry and give a significant boost to some research fields.

The industry ministry hopes to spur the economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions. To expand the use of electric vehicles (EVs), the ministry will use ¥100 billion to increase the number of EV battery quick-charging stations across the country from the current 1,400 to 35,000.  Another ¥200 billion will give support to companies that reduce energy consumption through co-generation and other measures. The environment agency will put ¥1 billion into the introduction of LED lights on roads.

The development of alternative materials to rare-earth minerals will also receive a boost. With Japan and China at loggerheads over islands both countries claim, China has restricted access to its near monopoly of such minerals.

Of ¥570 billion requested by the science and education ministry, ¥180 billion will encourage universities to commercialize basic research and another 20 billion for induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research. That will increase the amount of money earmarked for iPS cell research over the next ten years to ¥110 billion.

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    ung-jin kim said:

    South Korean government removed the Ministry of Science and Technology a few years ago, and now they plan to restore a science department. They named it “Ministry of Future Creation Science” and on occasion, they call it “Ministry of Creation Science.” Many people would remember the incident – the attempt by Korean religious (Christian) fundamentalist groups to alter certain facts related to evolution in science text books used by Korean schools – around June 2012, which was reported by nature and science magazines. The name of emerging Korean science department reflects unbelievable degree of irrationality of those people who are now taking over the government.

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