Message from the Director 2010

Aug. 10, 2010


UTokyo Policy Alternatives Research Institute was established in July 2008 with a mission to integrate the intellectual resources available at The University of Tokyo, to conduct policy research, and to communicate the outcomes of that endeavor to society at large.

Taking advantage of being a part of The University of Tokyo, a comprehensive university with leading-edge research being undertaken in science, technology, the arts and social sciences, it is our mission to identify pressing social policy issues and analyze them from a multi-disciplinary perspective. In so doing, we utilize the rich stores of data and argument available to us in various research fields, and take into account the different views of concerned parties in society on the issues. From this process of analysis, we aim to create and propagate models of constructive policy alternatives in language which a public interested in policy are able to understand and which will lead to real improvements in society.

In recent years, policymaking processes have become increasingly transparent, in large part in response to mounting public pressure following repeated disclosure of how those processes actually worked and public dissatisfaction at having been kept in the dark. As a result, questions are now being raised concerning the criteria that govern and underpin policymaking. With an increasing need and demand for both evidence-based policymaking and a principled basis which might supply an order of priority in policy comes an equal need for a multilateral, interdisciplinary discussion based on data integration and reasoned, logical argument.

The role of those who disseminate such discussion in an easily comprehensible manner is also important. What we definitely need today is a methodology which will, in a balanced way, clarify problematic issues through the selection and structuring of relevant information from diverse sources, and an evaluation of the various benefits and risks of the policies addressed, taking into account the nature of the policymaking institution and the background technological social system. Such a methodology will enable us to provide useful feedback to society and its institutions and facilitate enhanced decision making.

As an institute which researches Policy Alternatives, we will continue to offer new policy choices while acting as a bridge between our varied laboratories and departments and society, in collaboration with civilian agencies such as private companies, media or NPOs, as well as with external researchers.

At the institute, research units have been established, which are organized according to such research themes as our ageing society, medical information, medical devices, intellectual property rights and innovations, technology and riskl governance, and aviation policy. Research outcomes are conveyed in conferences and symposiums on each theme. We are planning to develop our activities in policy research and release our proposals through websites, newsletters or other media. We look forward to the support and help of all of you in the university who feel the need to propose substantive policies to society at large, or who are outside the university and are interested in the activities of The University of Tokyo in this field.

Hideaki Shiroyama
Director, Policy Alternatives Research Institute,
The University of Tokyo,
August 10, 2010

Message from the Director