Japan’s research universities go global

Nature 531 (17 March 2016)
Published online 16 March 2016

The Research University Network of Japan opens a new window to the world.

As a pioneer of ‘inflation theory’, Katsuhiko Sato spent much of his career grappling with questions about the origins of the Universe. Now, as president of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), he is complementing his cosmological concerns with more earthly matters: expanding the international cooperation of Japan’s research universities.

In 2013, Sato and directors from 25 research universities and institutes across Japan agreed to establish the Research University Network of Japan (RUNJ), an organization that aims to enhance international collaboration and further relationships between Japanese researchers and their counterparts on the global stage.

RUNJ was established as a part of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Program for Promoting the Enhancement of Research Universities. This government initiative supports efforts to link Japanese research universities and form a network of sharing and mutual support. It includes 19 universities, together with NINS and two other members of the Inter-University Research Institute Corporation (IURIC). IURIC is a unique Japanese organization that aims to create a joint forum for researchers and other university staff with the ultimate goal of enhancing the research capabilities of academic institutions throughout the country.

“Speaking with a united voice, we can be much more effective in connecting with our global peers,” Sato emphasizes. “Our goal is to act not as single entities, but as a united group of Japanese research universities, communicating our activities and recommendations not only to Japan but also around the world.”

RUNJ has ambitions to engage in concrete activities, such as establishing task forces to address common issues facing universities. To aid communication in a global context, RUNJ has proposed the creation of a Japan portal for EurekAlert!, an online science news service provided by the American Association for Advancement of Science. This highly visible communication channel would allow Japanese research universities to disseminate bilingual information to a wide global audience. RUNJ’s Task Force on International Collaboration has also established Gateway, an email-based system that will expedite the circulation of information concerning research collaboration, offering a new approach to problem-solving with an eye towards international research development.

Together, these RUNJ initiatives are opening a new window to the world for Japanese researchers, allowing the forging of richer and stronger connections with their international peers.

Gateway between Japan and the world

The Research University Network of Japan (RUNJ) seeks to promote international collaboration with Japan’s research universities. It seeks to provide opportunities for good networking.

  • Access several strategically placed administrators who interface with faculties.
  • Coordinate joint workshops and seminars and encourage international collaboration.

EurekAlert! Japan Portal now acts as a portal between Japan’s research universities and the world

RUNJ has collaborated with the American Association for Advancement of Science to redesign their EurekAlert! and to launch a Japanese news portal to disseminate our bilingual press releases to the site’s global audience.

EurekAlert! Japan portal


National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS)
Research University Network of Japan (RUNJ)

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