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World Premier International Research Center (WPI) Initiative – A Program to Attract the World’s Brilliant Minds to Japan

Introductions to each of the WPI research centers as of 2013 can be found below.
Name organization
  Advanced Institute for Materials Research(AIMR)   Tohoku University
  Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe(Kavli IPMU)   The University of Tokyo
  Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences(iCeMS)   Kyoto University
  Immunology Frontier Research Center(iFReC)   Osaka University
  The International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics(MANA)   National Institute for Materials Science
  International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research(I2CNER)   Kyushu University
  International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine(IIIS)   Tsukuba University
  Earth-Life Science Institute(ELSI)   Tokyo Institute of Technology
  Institute of Transformative Bio-Molecules(ITbM)   Nagoya University

Today, academic disciplines consist of numerous subdivisions, and new disciplines have been established from mergers of different academic fields. This has made it difficult for an individual researcher or a small group of researchers to conduct comprehensive academic studies. In Japan, too, the current trend is for researchers to form large collaborations so that they can gather significant amounts of knowledge in one place, and conduct research as an organization to tackle the complex issues of modern society. Outstanding researchers are even crossing national boundaries to contribute their knowledge and skills to the world and its global population.
In other words, what is needed right now for research is organizational capability. Whether a research project will be able to produce results that will answer the needs of the world depends on how much talent it can attract, and how much knowledge and practical skills it can pull together.
In fact, the more attractive the research environment of an organization is, the more prominent researchers it will be able to attract and the more significant its research results will be. Examples of attractive research environment features include the ability to concentrate on research, speedy pathways for the real-life implementation of research results, ease of obtaining grants, and guarantee of sufficient compensation.
In order to facilitate the establishment of such attractive research organizations in Japan, the World Premier International Research Center (WPI) Initiative was launched. It is an expansive program aimed at pulling together high-potential Japanese researchers with the world’s most brilliant minds, to establish in Japan research centers that are open to the rest of the world. Researchers in WPI research centers tackle global issues that concern the entirety of humankind, set global academic trends, and work hard everyday to produce results that will contribute to the betterment of the entire global population.

Significant results produced by Japanese researchers are assets of Japan, worthy of international praise. Japan has the highest number of Nobel Laureates in the science fields of any Asian country. In addition, the number of Japanese researchers who have made an impact on the world is countless, including Shibasaburo Kitasato, Hideyo Noguchi, Umetaro Suzuki, Yoshio Nishina, Hantaro Nagaoka, Kotaro Honda, and Torahiko Terada.
The Japanese are often thought of as being diligent in overcoming difficulties and making steady progress; coupled with outstanding research facilities and programs, it seems likely that Japan will continue to produce significant results.

One of the goals of the WPI program is to produce Nobel-worthy researchers in each of its research centers. In 2012, Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, a principal investigator of the Institute of Integrated Cell-Material Sciences and the Director of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (both at Kyoto University), was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

(More information on Japanese Nobel Laureates can be found at

By leading the world with its strengths, Japan will reinforce its presence in the world and pave the way for national revitalization and developments. WPI research centers are expected to provide global leadership, and to contribute widely to the Earth and humanity.

Characteristics of the WPI Program
• Administration experts are placed in all WPI research centers to ensure smooth administrative work, allowing researchers to concentrate on their studies.
• WPI research center directors have strong authority, and the executive department consists of a select few, so that speedy decisions can be made.
• English is the primary language of use, both in research departments and in administrative departments.
• A results-oriented salary system based on fair evaluations is in place. Researchers are promised compensation matching their performance, motivating them to do their best.
• Services including housing and support for child education are provided to improve the quality of life of the researchers.

The Ideal WPI Research Center
• A world-class organization where 10 to 20 of the world’s best researchers conduct collaborative research within a large-scale framework of 200 or more member in total.
• An international organization where at any given time at least 30% of the researchers are from foreign countries.
Each WPI research center receives approximately 1.4 billion yen (about 16 million U.S. Dollar) a year in grants from the Japanese government over a period of 10 to 15 years; the WPI program is a significant national-level project intended to communicate the very best of Japanese research to the world.

Related Links
JSPS WPI Initiative
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)