Message form the Chairman
The National Institute for Research Advancement (NIRA) was established in March 1974 by an act of parliament in response to a proposal made by representatives of the business, academic, labor and local government communities. In the thirty-one years since its establishment, NIRA has clarified a variety of complexly intertwined problems facing modern society, made proposals to influence the course of policy formation, and conducted projects on 993 research themes.
In commemoration of its 30th anniversary in March 2004, NIRA held a "30th Anniversary Symposium" series in FY 2004. The Institute also compiled and comprehensively systematized its research results for the past four years and formulated a policy package entitled "Comprehensive Strategies for Governance Reform" that delineates a desirable future form and direction for Japan. In parallel with these research advancement activities, NIRA promoted regional research exchanges with the Council of Local Think Tanks and local governments. NIRA also promoted international research exchanges, including co-hosting symposiums and conducting personnel exchanges with overseas think tanks. The Institute was active in providing information through the publication of research results and a new E-mail magazine. In addition, NIRA collected and provided information on policy research being conducted by domestic and overseas think tanks. In particular, NIRA's World Directory of Think Tanks 2005 was published as its 5th revised edition. NIRA also conducted the "NIRA Public Policy Research Seminar" in order to provide public policy researchers and personnel with an opportunity to learn the basics of policy analysis by means of practical application.
In FY 2004 NIRA formulated a new mid-term plan covering a five-year period commencing in 2005 (2005-2009). In preparing this plan, NIRA adopted a selective focus on research issues to which its specific capacities enable it to make the greatest contribution and NIRA will concentrate its research resources on these issues. In addition, NIRA has decided to adopt an approach of identifying issues that Japan should address at present to ensure that in the year 2030 the nation is attractive to its own citizens and the citizens of other nations, in order to provide a long-term perspective. Following these basic guidelines, NIRA has established three priority research areas. The first area of research concerns the maintenance and enhancement of the "comprehensive capacity" of Japan and the Japanese people as a whole, which is an issue that requires initiatives to be taken at the national level. The second area of research concerns regional revitalization and the optimum direction for civil society. Research in this area will be conducted in cooperation with local governments and regional think tanks. The third area of research concerns the ideal form of regional cooperation in Asia. This research will be conducted in cooperation with think tanks in other Asian countries, and will address issues that require international efforts on the part of Japan.
To ensure that NIRA's research results and policy proposals are readily available to relevant individuals in the field of public policy, we have decided to commence publishing "Policy Briefs," which will present summaries of the above information. We will also establish the NIRA Policy Forum as a venue for policy makers and researchers to exchange opinions regarding important issues as they arise.
Think tanks are playing an increasingly important role in the process of policy formation as institutions capable of providing alternatives to policies proposed by the government and bureaucracy, and NIRA will continue its activities as a comprehensive policy research institute. We look forward to your continued support.
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