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About NIRA

Jiro Ushio

The Nippon Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) was established on the initiative of leading figures from Japan's industrial, academic, labor, and local government communities. The Institute was founded in March 1974 as a semi-governmental organization under the Nippon Institute for Research Advancement Act. Since its establishment, NIRA, as an independent policy research organization, has adopted a comprehensive perspective in addressing a wide range of complexly interrelated issues affecting contemporary society, and has made a large number of proposals with a view towards influencing policy formation. NIRA has conducted projects on more than 1,000 research topics to date. In 2007, as part of administrative reform initiatives instituted by the Japanese government, NIRA became an incorporated foundation on the basis of the Act to Abolish the Nippon Institute for Research Advancement. NIRA was later accredited by the government as a public interest incorporated foundation, and continues its activities under a new system.

Japan has experienced dramatic changes over the course of the past three decades. The nation must transform its structure of governance to become a more mature democracy. In terms of the policymaking process, Japan will be required to transfer authority from the central government to local governments, and to replace the present bureaucracy-led system with one in which the initiative is taken by political parties and the private sector. In addition, to revitalize the Japanese economy and resolve various issues facing contemporary Japan, including the nation's declining birthrate, it will be necessary to provide a diverse range of policy alternatives to increase the range of choice available to citizens. Against this background, NIRA must review its central role.

In the twenty-first century, the range of actors involved in the policymaking process will expand and diversify; in addition to politicians and governments, the private sector and civil society will be involved. The amount of information available is also increasing exponentially today. For example, in this Internet era blogs are taking root as a new medium enabling everyone to speak their minds, and their number has already exceeded that of regular news services. It is becoming increasingly important to accurately identify from this increasing mass of information where the concerns of citizens are focused. Filling in new gaps in the policymaking process and bringing knowledge from different sources together will be one of the new roles to be fulfilled by policy research institutes, and they will be required to make more rapid responses.

Japanese society is facing profound changes, and the nation's policy research institutes are urgently required to adopt new roles. NIRA therefore views its change in organizational status as an opportunity to commence again from the beginning and to reform its research system to meet the demands of a new era. As a public interest incorporated foundation, NIRA will continue to conduct its activities for the public good. At the same time, from its more independent standpoint, the new NIRA will work diligently to present bold policy proposals and to make information available in a timely fashion in order to further stimulate policy discussion and to make an even greater contribution to the policy-making process.

We sincerely appreciate the support that you have provided us thus far, and hope that we may rely on continuing support for the activities of the new NIRA.

Jiro Ushio
Chairman
Nippon Institute for Research Advancement

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