Vice Chairman of the Board of Councilors, Nippon Keidanren
Chairman, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
The Japanese economy has finally entered a recovery phase, supported mainly by new industries that have emerged thanks to a variety of cutting-edge technologies, not least of which is digital home appliances. It is obvious therefore that the sustainable growth of the Japanese economy from now will rely for the most part on science and technology that will create competitive products and new businesses. Furthermore, cutting-edge technologies, including those in the environment and energy sectors such as fuel cells and solar power generation will take on a significant role in helping Japanese society to contribute to the international community.
The key to achieving further development in Japan's science and technology is the human resources who engineer the creation of science and technology. Developing human resources involved in science and technology is an issue that requires efforts not only by learning institutions such as universities, but is one that must be tackled by the business sector itself. In terms of practical training, through the enhancement of internship systems, students will not merely be provided with knowledge, but with an opportunity to engage in corporate research and development, which is important if broad-minded and flexible human resources are to be developed. For example, coupled with bringing in highly motivated and exceptional students from learning institutions for long-term internship placements, companies should provide students with clearly defined roles and objectives, and provide them with benefits and incentives commensurate with their role and actual results. Moreover, from a long-term perspective it is incumbent on the business sector to create opportunities whereby from an early age children are encouraged to have an interest in science, and innovation is developed. Such opportunities could include the opening of "hands-on" events in science and technology-related areas. In the area of research and development, a vision is required to merge various technological fields and change perspectives. This will require the promotion of flexibility to have an interest in a field different to one's own expertise and a spirit of challenge in such a field. In both the short- and long-term, it would be highly efficacious to construct an environment conducive to the development of human resources that are flexible and innovative.
From the perspective of science and technology policy, incorporating human resource development considerations, discussion is ongoing in Japan concerning the Third Science and Technology Basic Plan, which is scheduled to begin from FY2006. I believe it is a common responsibility of great importance for business, academia and government to combine their efforts in building effective policies and developing human resources to support the realization of a "nation based on the creativity of science and technology."