The Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 caused an unprecedented amount of damage. The science and technology field was, however, also badly affected by the disaster, which had a hugely negative impact on research. In Tsukuba for example, Japan’s leading city for international research, there was also no small number of foreign researchers who chose to return to their countries or who delayed their arrival in Japan due to the situation.
The Japanese government has strongly indicated the need to respond to the issues raised by the disaster, outlined in the 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan. Within the plan, it was suggested for example that ‘in light of concerns regarding the potentially damaging effect on research development within our country’s research institutes that was caused by the spate of researchers from overseas either leaving Japan or delaying their arrival, it is imperative that we promote the development of systems for dealing with researchers and make overhauls and improvements to the research environment’. The plan further went on to suggest that as part of these efforts to once again facilitate the invitation of outstanding foreign researchers from abroad, Japan needs to ‘strengthen its communication of safety information to foreign research institutes, and improve the provision of financial compensation at domestic research institutes’.
For this purpose, and given the execution of the Survey on Facilitating the Entry of Researchers and Strengthening Networks for the Promotion of International Collaboration in Research that was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in 2011, an additional investigation was carried out. This investigation established examples of best practice, identified potential issues, and produced a proposal for the creation and development of a truly useful model for communicating information and producing a disaster support manual for foreign researchers at times of disaster.