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Education and training are critical in building a strong foundation for achieving Japanâ€™s various goals. The expansion of technological and industrial frontiers is one such goal, and is one in which the education of researchers and engineers at universities, in particular, plays a central role.
Mr. Katsuhiko Shirai, the interviewee, is President of Waseda University and also serves as the organizational chief/representative for the project entitledâ€œ, The Formation of a Unified Center for Advanced Technology and Healthcareâ€, which was proposed by the university and selected for the Strategic Research Center Development Program supported by the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). Aside from his duties as the university president, Mr. Shirai has served as President of the Japan Association of University Intellectual Property and Technology Management since 2004. The Association promotes healthy collaborative relationships between industry and academia through friendly interactions, education, investigation, and research concerning efficient operations in the management of intellectual properties or technological transfers at universities and other institutions. He is also the head of a committee for promoting industry-academia cooperation at MEXT. In addition, Mr. Shirai is a researcher in intelligent informatics and served as President of the Japan Society for Artificial Intelligence from June 1998 to May 2000.
Given his experiences – both an individual researcher and the leader of various organizations – in dealing with technologies and industries as well as in educating and training people engaged in them, Mr. Shirai is well qualified to discuss issues concerning technological and industrial frontiers. In this interview, he talks about various issues ssociated with the collaboration between universities and corporations, Japanâ€™s policies for science and technology, and the training of a new type of scientist who understands technology management.