By Dennis Normile
Science — Japan’s government today approved a plan to spend $116 billion to jump-start the economy and set the stage for long-term growth. Sources in the Japanese press are hinting that research on renewable energy and on stem cells could land a significant chunk of the new cash.
The Liberal Democratic Party won parliamentary elections last month on promises to get the economy out of a 2-decadelong rut. At a press conference here today, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the first step is for the government to create demand through spending on infrastructure and recovery from the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster. He also pledged to create stable growth by improving manufacturing competitiveness and supporting innovation. Details are still being worked out. But the Japanese press has reported that proposals under consideration include steps to encourage private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy and induced pluripotent stem cell applications. The government also wants to bolster the national research infrastructure in part to foster closer university-industry ties.