R&D and Economy in Japan

November 24, 2010

Today I was a speaker at the Faculty seminar. The thematic focus of the meeting was Experiences of conducting research in Australia and Japan. I gave a presentation about links between scientific research and economic activity in the Japanese context. You will find the presentation below.

Downloads – Links between scientific research and economic activity in Japan

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Presentation at the doctoral seminar

November 2, 2010

Today I made a presentation about my Japanese fellowship at the doctoral seminar held at the Management Faculty of the Bialystok University of Technology. Here is the presentation [Polish]:

Download: Staz naukowy “Foresight impact on innovation”



September 30, 2010

My wife calls me a climate migrant. I tend to find opportunities to leave Poland whenever weather there worsens. Now, since the weather becomes unpleasant in Tokyo too, it is time to go back. 🙂

It has been a very rewarding period in my academic life. I am sure it continues to yield long into the future.

Thank you so much, prof. Yashiro! Thank you prof. Bock, prof. Skibniewski, prof. Matwiejczuk, prof. Skorek! Thank you IIS secretariat and Yashiro Lab students! Thank you Japan Foundation!


IFTECH for dessert

September 29, 2010

On the last day of my fellowship I had an appointment at the  Research Center for Policy Studies in the Institute for Future Technology (IFTECH). I was received with a lot of kindness of openess by Mr Takashi Kikuta (Center Director), Mr Keiichiro Tahara (researcher) and Mr Adam Lobel (researcher).

The IFTECH staff provided me with relevant information about the Japanese S&T Basic Plan – its history and current status. I also got a very good explanation on different actors taking part in the innovation policy making process.

We agreed that it is very difficult to filter out the impact that foresight has on policy because a) policy is influenced by so many different factors, b) you never know what exactly made a policy-maker to take a certain decision. Mr Keiichiro Tahara suggested two possible ways such evaluation could be carried out: inteviews with policy-makers or analysis of the minutes from the discussions of the bodies that make policy. The first one needs openess from the public officials, the second one requires a high level of transparency at all levels of policy-making.

Keiichiro Tahara

Research progress – presentation

September 28, 2010

At today’s Yashiro Lab seminar I had a chance to report on my 1,5-month research in Japan. It is too early to name it a report on research results as the process is ongoing and the aims are of a long-term nature. I’d rather call it research progress report.

During my fellowship I have managed to gather a large amount of relevant materials and to establish links with staff of key institutions dealing with foresight in Japan. This will be crucial as I move on to the next phase of my work – already back at the Bialystok University of Technology.

Download: Foresight Impact on Innovation – Research Progress Report



September 26, 2010

What you would normally expect from a museum is the presentation of a certain aspect of history. The one I have just visited, by contrast, takes its visitors on a trip into the future. That institution is the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

Situated in the modern and picturesque Tokyo Waterfront area, the museum’s mission is to “achieve a society where everyone looks to the future guided by wisdom and understanding”. This sounds very much like one of the aims of foresight activities – encouraging the society to develop a culture of discussing about the future.

The permanent exhibition is divided into four fields: Innovation and the Future, Information Science and Technology for Society, Life Science, The Earth Environment and Frontiers. The museum offers a lot opportunities for learning and interaction – it is interesting to both small and bigger kids like me. 😉

And I have learned a new word: serendipity!


How to be a scientist

September 23, 2010

I have read a book presented to me by my PhD supervisor prof. Zofia Kedzior for the University of Economics in Katowice. Its title is How to be a Scientist [in Polish]. It has been written by an acclaimed Polish cosmologist, philospher and a Roman-Catholic priest, Michal Heller. Heller writes:

“I am a big supporter of the cumulation law. 15 minutes every day […] give about 80 hours yearly […]. This means that 15 minutes every day is a tremendous amount of time. When you work regularly, but by small steps, you may not notice progress (and that may be destructive) but results do accumulate. You can learn and achieve much this way.”

Systematic work, even at a moderate pace, is indeed a very good idea. So simple and so difficult… 🙂


Beyond innovation with prof. Yoshida

September 20, 2010

Long anticipated meeting with prof. Satoshi Yoshida from the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology (newly established research and higher education institution funded by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government) took place today.

Prof. Yoshida introduced me to Innovation 25 – a long-term strategy initiative of the Japanese government for the creation of innovation contributing to growth with a perspective of the year 2025. We spoke about sources of international inspiration for the Japanese innovation policy:  a report Innovate America: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change as well as the work of the UK Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS; currently Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). Prof. Yoshida also mentioned the recent foreisght applications in Russia (RUSNANO) and referred me to the works of his British colleague dr Robert Phall who is an expert in technology roadmapping.

At the end of our fruitful conversation I was presented with Prof. Yoshida’s recent publication – a book entitled Beyond Innovation. Unfortunately I don’t speak Japanese but anyway I will be able to make use of many interesting diagrams.


Foresight tools in climate research

September 16, 2010

Just  before my son was born I had a very informative meeting with dr Tatsuya Hanaoka from the Center for Global Environmental Research at the National Institute of Environmental Studies (NIES). We discussed about the foresight tools used in the research project called Japan Low Carbon Society Scenarios toward 2050 as well as Low Carbon Society Scenarios (LCSs) for some other Asian Countries.

Japan Roadmaps towards Low-Carbon Societies (LCSs) explore the ways of achieving an extremely amibtious target of 70% CO2 emmissions reduction (compared to the level in 1990) by year 2050. The study analyses around 400 countermeasures and 220 policies from the angle of the necessary implementation period and cost. The analysis was based on the literature,  expert judgments, and market survey. The backcasting approach to the study meant that first the 2050 target was drawn and then measures needed for achieving that target were investigated.

We also exchanged opinions with dr Hanaoka about the seemingly (or really) unsolvable conflit between the short term bias of political decisions in democratic systems (due to electoral cycles) and the need for long term strategic thinking in tackling the most serious social and economic and environmental challenges.


Jan Nazarko

September 16, 2010

Even foresight scholars are sometimes taken by surprise… 🙂

Not willing to wait till his father’s comeback from the study visit in Japan, little Jan (2130 g, 51 cm) decided to make a big entree already today at 5.50am. Despite his early arrival to the world he seems to be quite fit and ready to face the present and future.  Mum Marta is bravely coping with new challenges of motherhood. Dad – pretty confused on the other side of the world – tries to adapt to the new situation.


First fruit

September 13, 2010

I am glad to announce that my fellowship bears first scientific fruit. 🙂 I have just co-authored (together with Anna Kononiuk) a paper entitled Regional Foresight in Shaping Innovation of Regions for the conference Institutional Aspects of R&D Sector Development in Poland. From an Imitating to Innovating Economy [Polish] which will take place on 28-30 September 2010 in Goniadz, Poland. The paper is in Polish but after the review process we may translate it in into English.


Future studies in the Ministry of Environment

September 9, 2010

Today I visited the Ministry of Environment to meet Mr Sei Kato, the Deputy Director of the Climate Change Policy Division in the Global Environment Bureau. He gave a very interesting overview of future-oriented methods and techniques used at the ministry to build mid- and long term strategies of CO2 emission reduction in the Japanese economy and society. The methods we discussed included scenario building, backcasting and roadmapping. Mr Sei Kato made an observation that setting ambitious long term golas requires alternative visions of the future to be constructed.  Such visions are then useful in determining priorities in technological and social development.  In other words, having a clearer idea of the future we desire helps define and implement a focused and effective innovation policy.


First Polish nanotechnology foresight

September 6, 2010

Thanks to the ICT development in the last decade I am able to contribute to different areas of work back at home while being here in Tokyo. This is very nice on one hand but somewhat tricky on the other since working in two time zones with 7-hour difference may be confusing to your system (not to mention the attempts to stay in touch with my sister Ula who has just begun her 2-semester study programme at the University of Maryland).

But today we coordinated very well in terms of local times and I could participate virtually in the meeting of a working group drafting the final version of the SWOT analysis for the project called Technological Foresight “NT FOR Podlaskie 2020” Regional Strategy of Nanotechnology Development. The project aims at creating a strategy for modern technologies development in one of the least economically developed regions of Poland (Podlaskie). The project strives to work out a development paradigm for the region based on a feed-forward logic i.e. not on copying the leaders of today but rather on going to where tomorrow’s leaders will be.


Visit to NISTEP

September 1, 2010

Today I visited the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) which is the main body carrying out foresight exercises in Japan. It is under the direct jurisdication of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and its role is to inform the Japanese government’s science and technology policy.

I was very kindly received by dr Tsuneo Ichiguchi who is a Unit Leader in the NISTEP Science and Technology Foresight Centre and Ms Asuka Hoshikoshi, Coordinator for International Research Cooperation. I was presented with a large amount of valuable information and materials. It will take me some days to digest it.

I was also very happy to see dr Yuko Ito who is a Senior Specialist in MEXT. I met her last year in Istanbul at the Yeditepe International Research Conference on Foresight: Methodological Issues in Foresight Studies. She presented there a paper entitled Trial of a New Science & Technology Foresight Survey.


Presentation at Yashiro Lab seminar

August 31, 2010

Today for the first time I participated in the Yashiro Lab seminar. There was a series of presentations by prof. Yashiro’s students who were preparing for a conference. I also had an opportunity to introduce myself to the team and to speak about the general concept of my research. On 28 Sept I will have the opportunity to make another presentation at the lab seminar – this time it will be about the results of my studies here in Tokyo.

Download: Lukasz Nazarko – Research Outline


What makes innovation?

August 30, 2010

Today I met prof. Takahiro Fujimoto – a distinguished scholar with big experience in studying innovation, especially in the Japaneses manufacturing industry. He is also the Executive Director of the Manufacturing Management Research Center of the University of Tokyo. We had a brief talk about the nature of innovation. In his research he points at the decisive role of human capital in generating innovation. He underlined the importance of individuals with vision, leadership or simply genius. This conclusion has serious implications for the shape of policies promoting innovation in the economy.

He also told the story of the post-war Japanese aerospace specialists who were not able to work in their field because during the occupation after WWII, all of Japan’s aerospace industry was dismantled, designs destroyed and plants converted to other uses. Those people moved to other branches like automotive and railway industries thus provided the fundment of their global success in later years. That’s how USA accidently contributed to Japan’s impressive economic leap after the war. 🙂

I may have an opportunity to see prof. Fujimoto again later in September.

At the same meeting I establised contact with prof. Satoshi Yoshida from the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology. I hope to meet him again to have a talk about our academic interests.


Paving the way to NISTEP

August 26, 2010

Today I had a pleasure to meet Prof. Yasunori Baba who holds a post at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies) at the University of Tokyo. From 2007 he was engaged in a joint project of the Japanese National Institute for Science and Technology (NISTEP) and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) called Foresight for Our Future Society. He served there as a chairman of the Consumers, Media and Digital Convergence expert panel.

Prof. Baba explained to me the rationale behind that cooperative Finnish-Japanese project and described the consecutive phases of the common foresight exercise. He put stress on the shift in the Japanese approach to foresight studies which was to some extent inspired by the European experiences (mainly German and Finnish). That shift consisted in the conclusion that the principal aim of technological development is to help achieve social objectives. That approach was different from the past one which promoted the technological development as a vaulue and a goal in itself. He also recommended some reading on innovation and evolutionary economics by Pavel Pelikan, Keith Pavitt, Richard R. Nelson and Sidney G. Winter.

As a former staff of NISTEP, prof. Baba made it possible for me to visit that institute and to get the first hand account of what is currently going on in the Japanese foresight.


Welcome to Yashiro Lab

August 25, 2010

Just a note to present my working space. Welcome to Yashiro Lab!


Energy foresight (contd.)

August 20, 2010

Meeting with prof. Ogimoto was very informative and beneficial for my research process. Professor explained to me the recent developments in energy policy and showed where tools such as roadmapping or key technology identification were used. He pointed at key strategic documents that shape and define the energy policy in Japan. The meeting also opened up prospects for encounters with people from the government who could provide further information on how foresight is used in formulating Japanese energy policy. Prof. Ogimoto also enlightened me about the solar cells on the IIS building – they are not a major source of energy for the institute.


Energy foresight in Japan

August 20, 2010

I have established contact with prof. Kazuhiko Ogimoto from the Energy System Division of the Collaborative Research Center for Energy Engineering the University of Tokyo. Among other fields he is very knowledgeable about energy foresight exercises in Japan and about policy formulation in that area. From the materials I have received one could see that scholars and policy makers already think of Japan’s energy situation in 2100! What an example for scientists and decision makers in my country! I am looking forward to meeting prof. Ogimoto in person soon.

And a shot story on the same topic.  From the balcony of the Komaba Faculty House I can see a field hockey pitch and the top section of the IIS building. While watching the sunset over Komaba Research Campus I realised that large parts of the IIS roof  were covered with photovoltaic cells.  I will ask prof.  Ogimoto what percentage of the total energy consumption of the IIS complex comes from renevable sources.


What is that music in the trees?

August 19, 2010

Since the first hours of my arrival in Tokyo I have been wondering: “What is that music* in the trees?”. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce Mr Cicada!

* Prof. Yashiro explained to me that male cicadas don’t merely make noise but actually sing their romantic song as they come towards the end of their 7-year life. I must say he has convinced me hence the replacement of the original word “noise”. 🙂


First visit to IIS

August 17, 2010

Institute of Industrial Science is situated in the impressive Komaba Research Campus. It is within a comfortable walking distance (ca. 10min)  from the Faculty House where I stay. There is Japan Folk Crafts Museum situated just by the entrance to the Komaba Research Campus. I shall visit it at some point.

The IIS building is huge, modern and quite complicated to get around. Anyway, with some help of the “Indigenous” I made it to the Director General’s office where I was welcomed by Risako Kondo, Director’s Secretary, who had been skilfully facilitating the preparations for my fellowship during last months. My scientific advisor, Prof. Tomonari Yashiro, introduced me to the IIS and – with his broad knowledge and contacts – offered very valuable assistance in advancing my studies. Then I was given a desk and a PC.  Soon I will receive a key and a library card. Truly royal treatment, I must admit! 🙂


Orientation Day

August 16, 2010

My today’s visit to Japan Foundation headquarters was brief but very fruitful. I got to meet the JF staff with whom I had corresponded before the arrival and did some necessary paperwork. I was presented with a book Living in Japan and was served a cup of nice green tea. Last but not least, I got my fellowship allowance. The rest of the day was my individual “Tokyo orientation” with stress on the public transport system (which is complex but very well organised).


Touchdown in Tokyo

August 15, 2010

Tokyo welcomed me very warmly, not to say hotly… Directions I got from the IIS staff were excellent and I was at the Komaba Faculty House 2,5hrs after touching the ground at Narita airport.  My room is very cosy and has all facilities that a researcher needs (i.e. a fridge and a comfortable bed ;-)). I spent the rest of the day overcoming sleepness in order to adjust to local time. Tomorrow I go to the Japan Foundation headquarters for the orientation.