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So scientists came from the elite classes in Japanese society, as most of them do today. Unlike science as it evolved in Western countries, science in Japan always had a strong practical orientation (medicine dominated early Japanese science). This practicality, along with the regimented feudal social structure from the Tokugawa period, and the acculturation in the norms of Western science which Japanese students went through abroad, resulted in Japan’s approach to science today. For example, national politicians in the 1950s and 1960s believed in the ability of science to contribute to economic development, and government agencies and ministries such as the Science and Technology Agency and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry emphasized applied research (Kondo¯ 1992).

Characterizing research communities in this way means that to become productive, that is, to eventually generate knowledge in various forms, such communities must first and foremost function as social systems. ” A community is a group of people who share the same social norms and characteristics, and perceive similar interests and goals. Spatial proximity is not necessary for a group of people to think of themselves as a community (Hyman 1968; Merton 1988), but it does make the establishment of a shared sense of community more likely (Hagstrom 1965; Mullins 1972).

This lack of growth in national institute employment has resulted in a manpower shortage, especially of young researchers. Although about half of Japanese researchers are under 35 years of age, these younger researchers are overwhelmingly joining industry (Science and Technology Agency 1988a). University graduates can make higher incomes by working as researchers at private companies. Status, however, remains with university and national laboratory positions. It is becoming more common for university graduates to start employment within industry and then seek a university or national lab position (Kinoshita 1993).

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