Japan has undergone massive political, economic and industrial changes in the years since the end of World War IL It is now one of the major economic and industrial powers, but also one that is in the process of a major restructuring of its industrial base. More than in most countries, the development of biotechnology in Japan is based on the triad of government, academia, and industry. Of these three sectors, industry is the most powerful with some 230 large corporations having biotechnology activities. Although the majority of Japan’s biotechnology focus is on health care, its biotechnology activities also cover a broad spectrum of business sectors ranging from fermented foods to biosensors. Japan’s ministries exercise considerably less control over the economy than is generally believed. There is no strongly coordinated national program in biotechnology, and there is considerable competition for funds and political influence between the various ministries and specialized agencies. The primary functions of government are to provide support for basic research and university education, and act as an arbiter between the national interest and the private, profitmaking objectives of individual companies. In addition, the government laboratories represent an important resource in the development of various new technologies based on biology. The academic sector represents a study in contrasts. It is the source of much of the best science in Japan, and it is continuing to improve steadily. At the same time, its budgets are limited, many facilities are antiquated, and the structure of the universities is badly in need of reform, particularly in relation to the authoritarian nature of the seniority system.
KeywordsForeign Market Business Sector Biotechnology Industry Japanese Industry Lifetime Employment
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