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Criticism and Response on Japan's 'NIH' Plan

The Japanese government recently unveiled a plan to support applied biomedical research in the country, but the proposal, ScienceInsider says, has drawn some criticism. The plan to develop an agency in the mold of the US National Institutes of Health, critics say, does not appear to have been well thought out.

In a statement, leaders from about 50 life science societies in Japan said that they were interested in an NIH-like agency, but worried about the effect on basic biomedical research and on scientific training, as well as the ability to fund such research, according to ScienceInsider.

The economic revitalization minister, Akira Amari, said at a press conference that "we have no intention to try to tie down the people who are involved in very fundamental research." He added, though, that a focus on translational work was necessary as he has heard from researchers that they are sometimes unsure how to proceed when their work takes a turn toward a commercial application. "We need to try to help these people," he said, according to ScienceInsider.