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HOME  >  Research Grant Program  >  2019  >  Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Research Grant Program 2019

Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Hideaki Shiroyama
Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo

Based on the theme, “Exploring New Values for Society,” the objective of the Research Grant Program has been to support ambitious researchers who explore fundamental ways of thinking and methodologies to address difficult issues to be faced by future society in Japan and around the world and seek to create new values for society.

In modern society, there are a variety of short-term and manifested issues associated with the aging population, globalization, and other trends. However, it is also important to discover potential issues that are not yet fully visible and hone new social values in order to overcome these issues. Collaboration between actors at various sites triggers the discovery of potential issues. International collaboration between various sites to address issues through international comparisons can also be a valuable technique.

Starting from last year, the application process added the condition that the age of the project representative should be no more than 45 at the commencement of the grant. This does not have the intention of excluding a range of age groups in research study. However, it is based on the perception that deepening the awareness of young researchers and enhancing their research management capabilities is indispensable to the discovery of potential issues in future society and clarification of the direction for new social values. The average age of the representatives of the selected projects in this round of grants is 39. In addition, starting this year, we requested that the project representative be a researcher based in Japan on a trial basis. Although such a policy could be a constraint, at the same time, it is hoped it will lead to closer communication between project representatives and the Toyota Foundation as well as help to encourage communication and collaboration between research projects.

This year, a total of 12 projects were ultimately chosen from among the 152 applications. Below we introduce several projects that are very interesting as examples of those selected. Going forward, we look forward to projects with even bolder and more ambitious themes.

D19-R-0007 Tomoko Kubo (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Tsukuba)
“International Cooperative Research for the Establishment of a Sustainable Urban Development Model: To Manage both Competitiveness and Residents’ Quality of Life in Japanese Cities”

This project will organize international cooperative research to compare Chicago, Toronto, Tokyo, and other cities based on the theme of a vision for the 21st century city and can be described as research that will attempt to dig deep into basic issues such as acceptance of degeneration, social justice, aging in place, and the role of cognitive-cultural capitalism in the 21st century city.

D19-R-0050 Hitomi Yamaguchi (Associate Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, Kagawa University)
“Implementation Strategy for a Bountiful Sea from Clean Seawater: Management of the Environment and Natural Resources in the Seto Inland Sea”

This project is based on understanding gained from scientific research on the mechanisms of nutrient concentration fluctuations. It will attempt to propose a vision for managing environmental resources based on broad viewpoints such as the environment and tourism as a shift in strategy from “clean sea” to “bountiful sea.” It is expected to be a very interesting project as a specific example of an attempt at collaboration between scientific research and social strategy concepts.

D19-R-0087 Hiroe Ishihara (Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
“Rethinking Biodiversity Conservation from a Local Stakeholders’ Perspective: Case Studies of Relational Values in Japan and the US”

This project will attempt to theoretically and empirically clarify the new value of relational values of human beings and nature based on collaboration in Japan and the U.S. A vision for the future of the relationship between human beings and nature/the environment has been a constant theme for the Toyota Foundation programs. This project is expected to provide new perspectives and subject matter on such fundamental issues.

D19-R-0126 Ryuichi Suwa (Associate Professor, Department of Subtropical Agro-Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus)
“Fusion of Local Traditional Wisdom with Science in the Development of Countermeasures against Mosquito-Borne Infectious Diseases: Grandma's Wisdom Enhances Resilience in the Event of a Disaster”

This project is expected to provide opportunities for considering the social and institutional position of traditional wisdom and its potential for international strategy through an empirical clarification of ideal form of traditional wisdom called “Grandma’s wisdom”| and its potential in Okinawa.

D19-R-0153 Naoyuki Ieko (Chief Analyst, Evidence-Based Policymaking Unit, Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co., Ltd.)
“A Study of Knowledge Brokering in Child Welfare Area: Modeling Workings and Piloting Implementation”

This can be described as a unique type of on-site project that will attempt to build a system for collecting and utilizing evidence in social services, such as child welfare, based on an awareness of problems through concrete experience in think tank policy practice.

(Figures in parentheses show number in the previous year)
Number of applications Number of grants Selection rate
152 (361) 12 (12) 7.9% (3.3%)
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