NOTE: This article is getting a lot of hits in 2015 and I am wondering who is reading it and why. Would someone let me know, please. Just put a note in the Comments section at the end of the article.
This is an interesting discussion of some indirect effects of the recent Japanese disasters, aspects that I have never seen noted before. It is an important reminder that intellectual property matters deserve serious consideration. In the U.S. we too have advanced research being conducted in place that are known to have seismic risks, such as Silicon Valley CA and Boston MA have known seismic risks.
The article Brain Drain and Need for New Infrastructure Loom as Challenges to Post-Quake Japan appeared in Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, August 9, 2011.
The numbers stagger the imagination: 15,683 people lost their lives in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, while another 4,830 people remain missing… Japan’s life science community did not escape unscathed from the twin natural disasters. The earthquake and tsunami brought to a halt research at Japan’s academic and independent institutions and companies. In nearly all cases, though, by now, some five months after the disasters, the institutions involved have either resumed or are close to resuming near-normal operation.
The disasters have forced the government to delay releasing an updated Science and Technology Basic Policy Report for the five years ending in 2016. This would be Japan’s fourth effort at a five-year plan for growing these industries.
Some of the Lessons to be Learned include:
If there’s anything good that could come from the disaster, it is the focus placed by institutions across Japan on drawing lessons that could help future generations avoid the worst effects of another disaster. One of Dr. Miyata’s lessons include distinguishing between valuable intellectual assets that cannot be obtained elsewhere and preserving these first rather than lab equipment, which can be re-purchased.
Another lesson calls for institutions to maintain their own sources of electricity, at least for preserving intellectual assets. Still other lessons include organizing food and living necessities for emergencies, developing leadership and governance policies with the cooperation of faculty and staff, forwarding accurate information quickly to staffers, and agreeing to implement emergency plans quickly as need arises.
As Japan’s life science community continues to return to close-to-normal operations, two of the numerous challenges resulting from the disasters will require urgent attention: repatriating researchers who left immediately following the worst, and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure with greater resistance to as well as forewarning of earthquakes and tsunamis. If these are not covered by the five-year science and technology plan to come out later this month, they should be addressed as soon after as possible.