Growing international collaboration not yet enough to halt decline in Japan’s research output

    The Nature Index 2019 Japan supplement shows that global research performance in Japan continues to fall, but the number of international research partnerships is increasing

    Japan’s contribution to high-quality scientific research fell by 19.9 per cent between January 2012 and October 2018 according to the Nature Index. But efforts to increase international collaboration, seen as one way to address this trend, are paying off. Since 2014, the proportion of articles from journals tracked by the Index with international co-authors originating from Japanese institutions has increased from 46 to 56 per cent. 

    This supplement, published today, discusses the role that international collaboration has in boosting high-quality research output from Japan and also outlines the major changes needed for Japan to become an attractive research destination for international scientists.

    An overview article outlines how Japan is seeking to boost its scientific research performance by transforming its universities to better accommodate international collaboration. Then, six scientists with exceptionally strong research links outside Japan describe how they are bringing global research to Japan and taking Japanese research to the world.

    David Swinbanks, Founder of the Nature Index, said: “For decades Japanese academics and government science policymakers have talked of the need to internationalize Japan’s science and it is encouraging to see some significant steps forward on this front in recent years, albeit against a backdrop of an ongoing decline in high-quality research output.”

    Further features in the supplement include an interview with two leading female Japanese researchers who call for more women to seize opportunities to become leaders and principal investigators. Finally, an article on academia–industry partnerships discusses the barriers to getting the two sectors to work more closely together in Japan.

    The Nature Index 2019 Japan is based on data from, covering articles published during the period 1 January 2012 to 31 October 2018. All references to the year 2018 in tables and graphs include data for the 12 months preceding 31 October.