The UK and Japan have agreed to renew their longstanding Science and Technology Agreement for the 21st Century, with a focus on innovation and game-changing technologies.

The new Implementing Arrangement was signed in Tokyo by UK Science Minister George Freeman and Minister State Minister Nakatani Shinichi from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The countries say the renewed deal opens up opportunities for close collaboration to bring cutting-edge new technologies to market. This could focus on priority areas like semiconductors and clean tech, which will be critical to growing the economy.

“Japan is the world’s third-largest economy and a science and technology powerhouse,” said Freeman ahead of the G7 Summit in Japan later this week. “They have produced more Nobel Prize laureates than any other Asia-Pacific country. 

“Bringing Japan’s unique strengths even closer together with the UK’s world-class science and research expertise is a massive opportunity for both our countries, to pool our skills and expertise as we tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world, all whilst growing our economies and creating jobs.

“This deal is just another demonstration of the UK’s ambition to become a truly global science superpower, by deepening collaboration on the science and technology of tomorrow with like-minded nations like Japan, as well as the rest of the G7, to secure our collective future, drive economic growth and improve lives.”

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The UK says the countries share many of the same science and innovation priorities: Japan’s Moonshot R&D Programme, for example, includes a focus on quantum, one of the five critical technologies identified in the UK Science and Technology Framework.

Last year, the UK government committed a further £15.5 million investment to the Hyper-Kamiokande (Hyper-K) project, which is a next generation global neutrino experiment in Japan. This 15-storey physics experiment is helping scientists discover more about the fundamental particles that make up the universe. 

The new arrangements for the UK-Japan Science and Technology Agreement commit both countries to work together on joint R&D programmes, as well as academic and industrial exchange schemes. The two governments will encourage collaboration between UK and Japanese companies, by creating new networking and investment opportunities, and through closer connections between public bodies like UKRI and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). 

The UK and Japan will also work together closely to ensure their science governance and standards are aligned.

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