Close allies in cutting-edge research

Japan’s reputation as a research location is extremely high and the country has been a strong and reliable partner of the Max Planck Society for many years. Bilateral collaborations have stabilized at a high level and will be expanded further through joint basic research initiatives, such as founding Max Planck Centres and putting support measures in place for early career researchers.

Japan is among the biggest investors in research and development anywhere in the world: in terms of GDP, the country is ranked third behind the USA and China. Under a collaboration agreement, the Max Planck Society maintains particularly close relations with RIKEN, the leading Japanese research institution, which was founded in 1917 and modelled on the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the forerunner of the Max Planck Society.

Collaboration with RIKEN

For 40 years, the Max Planck Society and RIKEN, Japan’s leading research institution, have maintained cordial relations under a collaboration agreement. The agreement, which was concluded in 1984, was renewed in 2010 by the then Presidents Peter Gruss and Ryōji Noyori, who, in doing so, reinforced the successful and trusting relationship between the two organizations, whose collaboration is specifically focused on research areas of strategic importance.

The opening ceremony of RIKEN's 100th anniversary in Tokyo, which was attended by around 600 people. An address by RIKEN’s President Matsumoto, with the then Emperor and Empress on the right and four guests of honour (f.l.t.r.: MEXT Minister Matsuno, Minister for Special Missions Tsuruho, Max Planck President Martin Stratmann, Vice Chairman of the Japan Business Federation, Uchiyamada).

Three Max Planck Centers in Japan

The Max Planck-RIKEN Center for Systems Chemical Biology

The Max Planck-RIKEN Center for Systems Chemical Biology was founded in 2011 by Max Planck Directors Herbert Waldmann (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology) and Peter Seeberger (Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces) as well as the two leading RIKEN researchers Hiroyuki Osada and Naoyuki Taniguchi (RIKEN-Advanced Science Institute, Antibiotic Lab).

The Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials

In April 2019, the University of Tokyo joined the Max Planck-UBC-UTokyo Centre for Quantum Materials, which had originally been established in 2012 as a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research Director Bernhard Keimer, and the University of British Columbia (Andrea Damascelli). The third partner, the University of Tokyo (Atsushi Fujimori), joined in February 2017.

The Max Planck-RIKEN-PTB Center for Time, Constants and Fundamental Symmetries

The Max Planck Society established its first center that includes not just a foreign partner, the Japanese research organization RIKEN, but also a German one, the Physikalisch-Technische-Bundesanstalt (PTB), in 2019, which is known as the Max Planck-RIKEN-PTB Center for Time, Constants and Fundamental Symmetries.

Collaboration with the University of Tokyo

Over the past several years, the Max Planck Society has been intensifying its collaboration with Japan’s leading universities, which are playing an increasingly important role in the Max Planck Institutes’ direct project collaborations. The Max Planck Society has had an agreement with the University of Tokyo since April 2019, which is focused specifically on reciprocal mobility and the recruitment of early career researchers. Agreements with other leading Japanese universities are currently being prepared.


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