This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of RIETI. It is now recognized from home and abroad as a representative policy research institute for its contribution to policy-making, the quality of research publication, and dissemination of socially-important insights. A long-term accumulation of steady efforts is essential to gain recognition as a research institute. During the past 11 years when I was involved in the management of RIETI as Vice President, I truly felt that RIETI in its current form is built on the achievements accumulated since its foundation. Therefore, I believe it desirable to continue to maintain our basic framework while fine-tuning it in response to social and economic conditions, changes in policy needs, and research trends.
RIETI aims to achieve two goals simultaneously: contributing to better policy formation through bridging policy practices and academic research as well as producing research findings of high academic value. Looking ahead to progress that can be made in improving policy making it is necessary to foster many government officials that are also equipped with a greater understanding of academic research. Meanwhile, researchers have much to gain from the field of policy making, which is full of inspiration and material for unique research. For the spread of evidence-based policy formation, it is ideal that policy practitioners and academic researchers formally and informally interact and collaborate together. In my opinion, expanding their points of contact is one vital role of RIETI. However, this role is best served by creating effective synergies through sharing an awareness of issues while maintaining an appropriate distance to maintain neutrality of research.
If I have any comparative advantages, they would probably be my long-term engagement in both policy practices and academic research as well as my parallel engagement in management responsibilities and my own research activities. My ability to understand the mindset and concerns of administrative officials, the motivations of researchers, and organizational management practices could be helpful. From that standpoint, I am committed to undertaking coordination that helps deepen cooperation between (1) policy practitioners and researchers, (2) RIETI researchers and external researchers from universities, and (3) researchers and management/staff at RIETI.
Immediately before entering our Fifth Medium-term Plan Period, a serious socio-economic challenge arose in the form of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This has posed significant restrictions on RIETI's activities, and is likely to continue to disrupt plans for the foreseeable future. Furthermore, in addition to this pandemic, other unexpected shocks could occur going forward. It is important for us as a policy research institute to maintain an adequate amount of nimble flexibility in responding to emerging challenges rather than to focus simply on implementing activities planned far in advance.