MEXT Minister Tatsuo Kawabata Visits Tsukuba Laboratories


(December 2, 2009) Japan's Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Mr. Tatsuo Kawabata, recently made an inspection tour of several laboratories in Tsukuba, which included a visit to the Sengen Site at NIMS.

"MEXT Minister Kawabata receiving an explanation of next-generation solar cells." Image

MEXT Minister Kawabata receiving an explanation of next-generation solar cells.

Following an overview of NIMS, which was presented by President Sukekatsu Ushioda, Minister Kawabata received an explanation of various recent research achievements, including examples of application of SiAlON phosphors to white light LEDs, and then inspected frontline research sites working toward practical application of nickel-base superalloys for jet engine turbine blades to improve aircraft fuel consumption, an area where NIMS is engaged in joint development with Rolls-Royce, and the development of next-generation solar cell materials.

When asked his impressions by accompanying reporters, Minister Kawabata commented that “Materials research may not be particularly glamorous, but it is essential to science and technology. This visit has also given me a better understanding of the significance of research related to the environment.” In reply to a question from the press regarding collaboration not only with Japanese companies, but also with foreign companies, Minister Kawabata noted that “Medical research, for example, isn’t simply for Japan, it benefits the entire world. From this viewpoint, it’s important to create an environment where international researchers will want to do research.”

In addition to NIMS, Minister Kawabata also visited RIKEN and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during this tour of Tsukuba City, and heard the views of frontline researchers involved in science and technology development.