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Susanne Reffert | IPMU | Japan

View Blog | Read Bio

A Breath of Relief

Budget cuts in science unfortunately happen all over the world.
Over in Japan, we all got very worried last November, when the new government announced the intention to cut several science programs by 30-50% and even recommending termination for some. At IPMU, we all wrote letters to the Minister of Education, trying to explain how a big budget cut would endanger our new and so far very successful institute. We contacted colleagues and friends all over the world, asking them to write as well. Fortunately, the echo was very good. Very many scientists from abroad wrote to the minister. I don’t know the exact number, but the vast majority of the 900 letters sent in favor of the WPI program, of which we are part, were sent on behalf of IPMU!
This seems to have had an effect. The numbers for next year’s budget are out now. Several programs received severe cuts, but in the end, the existing WPI institutes (including IPMU) will be cut only by 3.6%. This is definitely a number we can live with! In the face of the overall negative climate towards science funding, we got away with only a scratch.
This doesn’t mean we can lean back now. The current decision only affects the next fiscal year, starting from April 2010. To get proper financial support also in the future, we have to keep doing a good job and keep convincing people that having an active, internationally visible research institute like IPMU is important both for Japanese science and Japan as a country. But the year begins well. Last week, the Vice Minister of Education visited IPMU, and next week, we will move into our fancy new building! Things are looking good, let’s keep our fingers crossed for the future!

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