UK and Japan strengthen science and tech ties in Tokyo

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  • UK and Japan today signed a renewed science and technology deal, building on decades of close cooperation
  • deepening relationship on science and technology follows initial joint UK-Japan projects announced as part of International Science Partnerships Fund (ISPF) in December
  • deal comes as part of Science Minister George Freeman’s work to cement science and tech cooperation between the world’s leading economies, at the G7 Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting in Sendai

The UK and Japan will take their cooperation on science, technology and innovation to new heights, after agreeing to renew the two countries’ longstanding Science and Technology Agreement for the 21st Century, with a focus on innovation and game-changing new technologies.

The new Implementing Arrangement was signed by UK Science Minister George Freeman and Minister State Minister Nakatani Shinichi from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry today (Monday 15 May), in Tokyo, and forms the latest part of the UK’s push to take a truly global approach to science and innovation.

The renewed deal opens up more opportunities for close collaboration to bring cutting edge new technologies to market. This could focus on priority areas like semiconductors and clean tech, which will be critical to growing the economy which is one of the Prime Minister’s five key priorities.

UK Minister for Science George Freeman said:

Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and a science and technology powerhouse. They have produced more Nobel Prize laureates than any other Asia-Pacific country. Bringing Japan’s unique strengths even closer together with the UK’s world-class science and research expertise is a massive opportunity for both our countries, to pool our skills and expertise as we tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world, all whilst growing our economies and creating jobs.

This deal is just another demonstration of the UK’s ambition to become a truly global science superpower, by deepening collaboration on the science and technology of tomorrow with like-minded nations like Japan, as well as the rest of the G7, to secure our collective future, drive economic growth and improve lives.

Over the last week, in Japan, Minister Freeman has been making the case for the world’s leading democracies to work closer together, to ensure that scientific advances deliver security, prosperity, while tackling the key issues facing our planet, from climate change and bio-security through to space sustainability.

The G7 Science and Technology Ministers’ Meeting, hosted in the Japanese city of Sendai in the last few days provided an important platform to demonstrate how the UK’s leadership in science and innovation – as well as that of the world’s other leading free societies – can be used to enforce our shared principles and challenge authoritarian narratives, as well as drive economic growth. The economic benefits that flow from innovation, are what unlocks investment in public services like the NHS, the ability to cut national debt, and what brings down inflation, all of which are key priorities for the Prime Minister in 2023.

The last week has also provided an opportunity to further cement the UK’s close relationship with Japan, visiting researchers at the NanoTerasu synchrotron radiation facility as well as Tokohu University’s disaster science institute, and meeting leaders from Japanese science and tech companies that are heavily involved in the UK.

The UK and Japan share many of the same science and innovation priorities. Japan’s Moonshot R&D Programme includes a focus on quantum, one of the five critical technologies identified in the UK Science and Technology Framework.

Last year, the UK government committed a further £15.5 million investment to the Hyper-Kamiokande (Hyper-K) project, which is a next generation global neutrino experiment in Japan. This 15-storey physics experiment is helping scientists discover more about the fundamental particles that make up the Universe. We have long enjoyed close links in areas like life sciences, space, and through collaborative research projects funded in partnership by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and partners like the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

The new arrangements for the UK-Japan Science and Technology Agreement commit both countries to work together on joint R&D programmes, as well as academic and industrial exchange schemes. The two governments will encourage collaboration between UK and Japanese companies, by creating new networking and investment opportunities, and through closer connections between public bodies like UKRI and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). The UK and Japan will also work together closely to ensure their science governance and standards are aligned.

The UK Science and Technology Framework sets out the ambition for the UK to be internationally recognised as a tech superpower by 2030. International collaboration is what powers the UK’s global leadership in science and technology. This means it is essential for the UK to collaborate more deeply with other leading nations to tackle the urgent global challenges facing our planet through science and tech. The International Technology Strategy sets out the work being done to build those partnerships, in a way that promotes positive values and boosts security.

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