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On 24 January 2019, the Delegation of the European Union to Japan hosted the annual Science and Technology New Year's Reception to celebrate the start of a new year of fruitful cooperation in Research and Innovation between the European Union and Japan. There were approximately 130 participants drawn from the research world, representing the Government of Japan, research funding agencies, research institutes, academia, industry, EU member states, countries associated to Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework program, European research organisations, and other key partners in Japan.
The Head of the Science, Innovation, Digital, and Other Policies Section, Dr. Gediminas Ramanauskas thanked participants for their collaboration over the course of 2018 and, emphasising the huge potential benefits of enhancing cooperation in research and innovation between the EU and Japan, encouraged guests to further build upon the close relationship that already exists, and extend it further over 2019.
In her welcome address, the Ambassador of the European Union to Japan, Head of the Delegation Dr. Patricia Flor, emphasised that Science, Technology and Innovation are one of the top priorities of the EU and Japan, and constitute a central component of the overall strategic partnership between the two sides under the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). Ambassador Flor highlighted some of the major milestones that occurred over 2018 in the field of science, innovation and digital. They included the signing of the Implementing Arrangement between the European Commission and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST); the 9th EU-Japan Science Policy Forum which took place in Kyoto; and the visit of the Director General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, Mr. Jean-Eric Paquet, who came to Japan in October. Ambassador Flor pointed out that since Japan's 6th Science and Technology Basic Plan and Horizon Europe will both start in 2021, now is the right time to think together about how we can collaborate more closely.
In his address, the President of RIKEN, Professor Hiroshi Matsumoto, provided us with information about RIKEN's plans to strengthen research collaboration with partners in Europe through their newly established office in Brussels. President Matsumoto recognised the growing role of Brussels – "the Heart of Europe" - in mobilising international research collaboration.
For the toast, Dr. Hiroshi Yamakawa, the President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), emphasised the importance of collaboration between Japan and the European Union in the area of space exploration and space research. President Yamakawa reflected on some of the major milestones for JAXA in 2018, including the successful launch of the Ibuki-2 earth observation satellite, and the successful execution of the BepiColombo mission to Mercury, organised jointly with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The New Year reception forms a key part of the Delegation's engagement with the Japanese scientific and research community, enabling us to build and strengthen our relationships, express gratitude to all the key people we are lucky to work with over the past year, and think about how we can work together for the coming year.