Technologieführer Japan? Die Umstrukturierung der japanischen Forschungslandschaft

Hemmert, Martin GND

The article addresses the recent structural change in the Japanese science and technology system. Based on the observation that the period of Japan´s technological catch-up with the Western industrialized countries has come to an end, it is assumed that the technological system of the country now has to undergo a fundamental reform towards more independent knowledge creation and innovation in order to maintain and advance the long-term competitiveness of its industrial sector. An institutional analysis of the Japanese innovation system leads to the following results: First, the R&D investment of the private sector is on a very high level. The reorientation of private R&D towards the strengthening of basic research and the formation of specialized human capital, however, is at an intermediate stage, only. Second, the public investment in R&D, traditionally small in Japan, has been significantly increased in recent years. Nevertheless, the relative level of public spending in R&D is still much lower than in the U.S. and in Western Europe. Third, Japan´s education and university system is providing the economy with a generally well-educated population but does not place high priority on the formation of creativity and on the education of highly specialized scientists and technicians. Recently, however, a number of reforms in the university system is indicating a strategic policy change. Fourth, while the structure of the labor and capital markets has traditionally supported a low degree of skill specialization and a concentration of resources in large companies, a gradual change towards higher incentives for specialized skills and for innovative small and medium enterprises is now becoming apparent. The article concludes that while there is a strategic reorientation in almost all parts of the Japanese innovation system, this must be considered as merely the beginning of a long-term restructuring process.