TOKYO — Reacting to recent criticism from abroad, Japan announced today that it will admit foreigners to some government-industry research projects that have been criticized as being intended only for the benefit of domestic industry.
Foreign companies will be welcomed to consortia run by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Previously, only the Japanese subsidiaries of foreign firms have been eligible.
"Foreign firms will be welcome to join these projects. But they are funded by Japan and are for Japan. If foreigners have no interest, that's fine too," a top official said.
Larger projects unite researchers from industry, government and academia in seven- to eight-year programs costing up to $210 million.
They have been credited with underpinning Japan's industrial prowess in microchips, new materials, optics, robotics and other fields. In a reflection of Japan's advanced technology, programs are increasingly of a basic, rather than applied, nature.