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On Saturday, 30 September the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, in cooperation with Japan's National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), hosted the 8th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum at the Okura Hotel, in Kyoto, Japan.
The topic this year was on ''Evidence Based STI Policy''. The event brought together close to 40 leading research policy makers, funding agency managers, academics and industrialists, as well as over 40 observers, from Europe and Japan.
Viorel Isticioaia-Budura, Ambassador of the European Union to Japan began by highlighting how the event takes place in the context of a deepening overall partnership between the EU and Japan, which includes a Strategic Partnership in Research and Innovation. This Forum is a key instance of STI policy dialogue between the two sides, as called for in the Joint Vision endorsed at the 2015 EU-Japan Summit. Koji OMI, Chairman of the STS Forum, talked of the importance of the relationship between the EU and Japan, and expressed his desire in the present world context to see EU-Japan relations further improve. Professor BOURGUIGNON recognised in his toast that the event is now a tradition for good policy discussions due to the high level of people attending.
Wolfgang BURTSCHER, Deputy Director General of DG RTD in the European Commission outlined how the Commission is committed to evidence based policy. He introduced the scientific advice mechanisms in place, and highlighted the role of the Joint Research Centre's. He gave an update on the ongoing Horizon 2020 Framework Programme and an outline of the next (FP9) which is currently under development, highlighting the evidence base and advice that had been marshalled for its development, including the High Level Group Report, published in July 2017. Yoichi ITO, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), talked on how Japan had been utilising evidence based policy, particularly since the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan (2011-2015). The current 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan has continued this practice, and has also introduced new indicators and targets towards its objectives.
The Minister of Education and Research for Estonia, Mailis REPS, noted the high rates of return from investments in research, and observed that knowledge and facts are extremely important for prioritisation. Information and communication technologies are now having broad ranging implications, and researchers need cooperate closely with policy-makers. Frédérique VIDAL, Minister for Higher Education, Research and Innovation, France, stressed the importance of engagement with the public for building trust; she noted the long time-scales between research and exploitation which can sometimes be around ten years, and virtually impossible to predict.
In what turned into a broad ranging series of presentations and discussions, other issues touched upon included the relationships between researchers and policy makers; the difficulties of measuring the effects of policies in view of the long time-scales involved; how to define programmes, the role and importance of Sustainable Development Goals for shaping a global common language and range of priorities; policy and programme experimentation, the importance of measuring the right things, how to gain financial support for STI programmes; research incentives; initiatives towards providing training to parliamentarians and policy makers regarding STI.