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HOME  >  Research Grant Program  >  2022  >  Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Research Grant Program 2022

Comments by Selection Committee Chair

Hiroshi Nakanishi
Graduate Schools of Law, Kyoto University

This year, we selected the applications for the second year of the Research Grant Program based on the theme of “Interlinkages and Innovation for Future Societies: Reevaluating Social Issues and Forging New Solidarity in the New Normal Era.”

The networks underpinning society were suddenly and forcibly shutdown by COVID-19, which swept across the world at the beginning of the year before last. As a result, people could no longer engage in interactions and activities like they did in their daily lives before, creating problems of division and isolation right across society. However, it seems that in many cases these were not new problems brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic but preexisting social trends that suddenly came to the surface. Two years after the pandemic began, COVID-19 has not abated completely, but I believe society has been settling down gradually. However, this does not mean we are returning to the pre-pandemic world. After going through the experience of COVID-19, a new normal seems to be taking hold. For example, doing things online as and when necessary has become a routine option, even for holding meetings. Of course, we have learned that there are limitations to online communication and that direct, face-to-face conversations have a value that cannot be replaced. Nevertheless, the fact that online communication, which was previously unthinkable, has become a routine option is perhaps the most striking example of the new connections.

This year, nine projects were adopted from among the 82 applications. The number of applications was down from 130 last year, but we felt that the quality of the applications was comparable to the previous year, and there was a greater variety in the fields of study. This can be understood as reflecting a growing awareness about seeking new “connections” compared with the previous year when our attention was focused on responding to the situation under COVID-19. We believe another positive change is the fact that the ratio of male and female project representatives is now almost fifty-fifty. We hope these trends will continue in the future, and, at the same time, we would also like to see proposals that lead to solutions not only for issues that are closely related to our immediate society but also for global-scale problems. Below we introduce several of the selected research projects.

D22-R-0005 Eiichiro Watamura (Associate Professor, Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University)
“Constructing a Social System to Undertake the Logistical Support of Child Guidance Centers”

Criticism of child guidance centers (CGCs) is not uncommon whenever child abuse is widely reported in the media. However, as CGCs themselves face the problems of staffing and budget shortages, child protection requires cooperation between CGCs and the public. This research will explore ways to gain trust in CGCs through a study of appropriate methods of communication and mechanisms for diffusion of criticism through the media.

D22-R-0036 Tohru Nakajima (Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo)
“The Practical Fusion of the Physical and Cyber Worlds by Combining Field-based Measurements with a Large-Scale Computing Network in the Post-Covid Word”

This project will connect logging and other data from the shrine forest to a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo via a communications network and manage forest conditions in the cloud to continuously improve the efficiency of timber production for Ise Jingu shrine, which has been maintained through the shikinen sengu every 20 years. This is an innovative study, which is a fusion of humanities and science, combining the maintenance of traditional culture with forest management and digital technology.

D22-R-0046 Haruka Ono (Associate Professor/Advisor to the President, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology)
“Designing Community Self-governance in the New Normal Era: Conducting a DX Social Experiment for Neighborhood Associations”

The dysfunction of neighborhood associations, which had been progressing in tandem with changes in social structure, was exacerbated by the cancellation of events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating the decline in local autonomy. This study seeks to address this by exploring the potential for new neighborhood associations and community self-governance activities using ICT tools. Researchers, public-private partnership organizations and companies will work together on a social experiment in the Higashi-Mikawa region in what is expected to be a thought-provoking study.

(Figures in parentheses show number in the previous year)
Number of applications Number of grants Selection rate
82(130) 9 (9) 10.9% (6.9%)
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