Recent Trends of Public Engagement in Japan(Part2)


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The history of Public Engagement (PE)  in science and technology in Japan is relatively new, dating back about two decades.

A group of researchers in science and technology studies first introduced the concept of consensus conferencing to Japan, convening pilot conferences on gene therapy and information and communication technology .

Following nearly two decades of research and trials, PE was finally introduced into Japanese national science and technology policy after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

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The government’s 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan, put together just a few months after the Great East Japan Earthquake , can be regarded as a milestone in that it clearly states that the government should encourage public participation in policy planning.

The government used a deliberative poll when drawing up its new energy strategy, which was nevertheless retracted soon after the change of government in 2012.

This aboutface shows that the PE mechanism has not yet taken root in the national policymaking arena in Japan, and that it is necessary for society to gain more experience in PE in science and technology.

To promote the spread of PE, it is important to creat opportunities for people to discuss the societal implications of science and technology on a variety of levels, not just as direct input to the science and technology policymaking processes.

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Although public engagement still has little direct impact on public policy in Japan, the discussions succeeded in creating a sphere of dialogue on a science-in-society issue, and public engagement has demonstrated that the government, enterprises and NGOs can be excellent organizers of such dialogues.

We are looking forward to PE’s further development in Japan.