Japan enjoys an outstanding reputation among German stakeholders as a prime location for research and innovation. Cooperation between the two countries takes place in many areas, for example marine research and technology, and the life sciences.
Bilateral cooperation between Japan and Germany is based on the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in science and technology of 1974. The agreement was signed by the German Federal Research Ministry and the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) are the two funding agencies subordinate to MEXT which are the key players in the collaboration. The two ministries hold regular meetings with German and Japanese research, funding and intermediary organizations, with the aim of determining the orientation of joint activities and cooperation in general.
A large number of German research and funding organizations have on-site offices in Japan. Fraunhofer established its 'Fraunhofer Representative Office Japan' in 2001 in order to promote the establishment of strategic partnerships with excellent research institutions and exchanges of researchers on the ground. The German Research Association (DFG), an intermediary organization, set up its Tokyo office in April 2009 and cooperates closely with JSPS and JST. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) also sees great potential for cooperation with Japanese research institutions and has operated an office in Tokyo since late February 2013.
The annual German Innovation Award (Gottfried Wagener Prize) presents excellent junior researchers from Japan with awards for innovative ideas and research projects under the patronage of the Federal Research Ministry. The 2014 Sixth German Innovation Award honoured six young Japanese researchers. The group's scientific contribution outranked almost 100 other applicants from 40 Japanese universities and research institutions. The award winners are chosen by an expert group comprised of representatives of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, twelve technology-oriented German businesses and top-class Japanese researchers.
The University of Mainz, the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology in Bremen, the Japanese University of Nagasaki and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba have established a sustainable collaboration thanks to the funding programme for the development of joint infrastructures in Asia by the Federal Research Ministry. Their goal is to conduct joint research on radiation biology and radiation medicine. The partners have compared the effects of computer-assisted tomography scans in children, focusing in particular on how radiation doses can be reduced. As a result of the successful collaboration, the German project coordinator Hajo Zeeb (Bremen University) has been appointed as an international expert for studies on the health risks associated with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.
The Junior Experts Exchange Programme is another integral element of Japanese-German Cooperation. Every year, four to eight young German and Japanese natural scientists from research institutions or corporate research departments have the opportunity to spend several days for a study visit in the other country. A different field of research is chosen as the guiding theme of the study visit every year. Since its launch, more than 200 young scientists have taken part in the programme,
with which the Japanese Foreign Office and the German Federal Research Ministry want to foster the bilateral research and science dialogue. The study tours involve visits to the funding and research organizations, authorities and businesses, talks with scientists and networking to establish contacts for future cooperation. The young Japanese scientists who came to Germany in 2014 under the theme 'Carbon nanotubes and graphene' visited several Max Planck, Fraunhofer and university institutions as well as businesses throughout Germany.