04 August 2015 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Policy blamed for drop in young scientists
Junior researchers are being squeezed out of Japanese universities by government policies aimed at cutting costs. So says the Council for Science and Technology Policy, or CSTP – the government’s top advisory body on science – raising concerns that the next generation of scientists is under threat and that the trend may already be harming research productivity, writes Ichiko Fuyuno for Nature.

The CSTP analysis comes from a draft report on Japan's science and technology activities scheduled for publication in the coming weeks. It points out that although the number of tenured and contract faculty at publicly funded universities has grown from around 50,000 to 63,000 over the past 30 years, the number of faculty under 35 has plunged from more than 10,000 to 6,800.

Part of the problem is demographic: people who were born during the ‘baby boom’ after the Second World War now occupy the senior echelons of universities – a situation that is reducing opportunities for younger researchers in other countries as well. But changes in government policy over the past two decades have made the situation in Japan much more severe, says Hideki Hirota, an official at the CSTP and author of the report.
Full report on the Nature site
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