President Obama’s speech and science & technology policies


I am now in Washington DC.  In the evening of 27th, the night before my departure, I saw and heard in Tokyo via internet the speech of President Obama on Science and Technology Policies given at the National Academy of Sciences annual meeting.  President Obama is the fourth president to address the National Academy and it has been 20 years since the last.  You are able to see, hear, and read the transcript of the speech at this website.  It is a strong message with clear vision for the future that has great content and wonderful structure.

President Obama set a goal of investing 3% of the nation’s GDP to R/D of Science and Technology.  Also, as the most important policy for the future, he showed a clear commitment to education in math and science through raise of budget with quite a concrete description on how this will be done.  These policies are based on recommendations from independent "think tanks" such as National Academy so their objectivity is trustworthy and evidence is clear.  Budgets were set to carry out these policies. Such process is important.

In today’s economic crises, a "clear message for the future," i.e., clear vision and commitment for the future, is very important.

For the large scale supplementary budget or new budget of Japan during this economic crisis, I would recommend 1) budget for the care of current bleeding 2) budget to create jobs for the next 2-3 years, and support social infrastructures such as social securities, health care, etc. (in short, provide a sense of being safe), and 3) more investments on new industries and their growth that can draw picture of the future society – i.e. basic research providing the "bud" for the possible new industries and education – (although I don’t think it pays to invest in current education system expecting it to provide good education for students of the global age.  In the first place, Japan’s budget for teachers is too small when compared to other OECD nations・・・) and so on.  Policies made by ministries and governmental offices are not enough to make changes.  Take a look at recommendations that were given by experts to the Prime Minister at the Kantei (residence of the prime minister).  See for yourself how much those recommendations (in Japanese only) have the viewpoint of "1, 2, and 3" as I have described above.  Apparently everybody is trying hard.  My recommendation is also uploaded in the section of "low carbon and environment."

The leadership and message of policy makers have power to encourage so many citizens, but・・・.