Reboot Japan: The nation of science and technology - OIST FORUM 2021

OIST Forum 2021 was held online for 3 days from March 2, 2021 to March 4, 2021.

In the past, Japan has strongly focused on scientific research and technological developments by recognizing the benefits that both bring to society. The country used to be one of the world's best in both basic and applied research. Now, however, Japan has fallen behind, not only in terms of establishing industrial structures based on innovations that have emerged in other parts of the world, but also in searching for solutions to global problems such as pandemics and climate change.

This year's forum was held online for three consecutive days, from March 2 to 4, 2021, which allowed for more speakers, panelists, and viewers to participate. In total, nearly 2,000 viewers tuned in to the event.

The OIST Forum 2021 was co-hosted by NewsPicks, an online economic media company, which has established a unique position in Japan as a popular site for readers with strong intellectual curiosity, including business leaders, entrepreneurs, and students. This event was designed around three themes, with one topic being discussed in depth each day.


DAY1Science x World - Time for the world to call for Japan again as “The new nation of science and technology”


The day began with a powerful video message from Taro Kono, Minister of State for Special Missions (for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs and Regulatory Reform) and remarks by OIST President Peter Gruss. Then keynote speaker, Dr. Kazuto Ataka, Professor at Keio University's Faculty of Environment and Information Studies and Chief Strategy Officer of Yahoo! Japan Corporation, gave a presentation on the current state of Japan's declining scientific and technological capabilities based on data presented in his book "Shin Nihon.” He introduced Japan's growth potential in terms of the number of science students, human resource development, diversity of human resources, and appropriate budget allocation and investment.

The panel discussion was moderated by Momoko Suda, Deputy Editor of NewsPicks and a science journalist. It featured three speakers: Dr.Yuko Kuno, Board Member of Kyoto University and Specially Appointed Professor of Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability, Kyoto University and Councilor of OIST; Dr.Takaaki Kajita, Director of the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research at the University of Tokyo and 2015 Nobel Laureatte in Physics; and keynote speaker Dr. Kazuto Ataka. The three panelists discussed the current state of scientific research in Japan, the different perspectives towards science and technology between Japan and the United States, and the allocation of the national budget whilst looking at Japan's future.

OIST FORUM 2021 Day 1 Full length video

DAY2Science x Business - “Commercialization” of science is the key for the nation of science and technology.


In his keynote speech, Adjunct Professor Hiroaki Kitano of the Integrated Open Systems Unit at OIST and President and CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc. introduced the "Moonshot Ecosystem" initiative. This initiative aims to accelerate the establishment of a better future society through various innovative scientific projects, including research on AI and longevity of which Prof. Kitano is working on.

In the panel discussion, Tamotsu Yoshimori, Professor at Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences and Graduate School of Medicine/ Faculty of Medicine, Osaka University and Founder of AutoPhagyGO, Akihiko Nagata, Representative of Real Tech Fund and Executive Vice President Chief Operation Officer (COO) of Euglena Co., Ltd., and Mr. Wataru Baba, Counselor in charge of Environment and Energy Business at Panasonic North America, discussed the ideal relationship between business and research.

OIST FORUM 2021 Day 2 Full length video


DAY3:Science x Sustainable Future - Update SDGs: Science and technology as solutions to “deep issues”

Keynote speaker Masahiko Kon, President and CEO of 3M Japan, began the day by talking about how “innovation” is essential for solving global social issues and how it differed from imagination. He then introduced the company's various advanced initiatives, such as the open discussions with customers and internal personal to utilize engineers, to "change the world through science”.

The panel discussion was joined by Yumiko Murakami, Head of OECD Tokyo Center, Ken Shibusawa, Chief Executive Officer of Shibusawa and Company, Inc., Chairman of board of directors of Commons Asset Management Inc., Fukahori Akira, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of avatar-in, Inc. and the keynote speaker, Mr. Masahiko Kon. The panelists agreed that society as a whole needs to invest in science to generate returns, and that diversity is needed to generate innovation.

OIST FORUM 2021 Day 3 Full length video

One viewer who watched the entire three-day event said, "It was a wonderful event that left a lasting impression on me. It was one of the most inspiring discussions I've had in the last few years.” Another viewer also sent a message to OIST saying, "I think this points a new path for Japan to follow. I hope OIST will continue to create new values, and that the future in Japan is to impact the world.”

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