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What is an Inter-University Research Institute?

The World’s Leading Research Institutes in Japan

The National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) consists of five inter-university research institutes: the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), the National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS), the National Institute for Basic Biology (NIBB), the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (NIPS), and the Institute for Molecular Science (IMS). In addition to playing a leading role in its respective research field, each institute has a collaborative relationship with NINS with the common goal of creating an interdisciplinary and international research base.

An inter-university research institute is a “research institute operated by the research community,” a type of world-class organization unique to Japan. The inter-university research institute was organized as a core base to provide a place for joint research and extramural use by researchers across Japan. One such institution originated as the Research Institute for Fundamental Physics (Yukawa Hall) in Kyoto University, which was opened to the community in 1953 in response to requests from theoretical physicists throughout Japan.

An inter-university research institute not only promotes pioneering studies on important research issues, but also provides opportunities for cutting-edge researchers throughout Japan to gather and engage in activities aimed at exploring future academic fields and creating new principles. New concepts of extramural use such as “joint usage of large-scale facilities” and “improvement of the intellectual foundation of academic materials” were later added to the original concept. While the research community’s own management policy has been firmly maintained, many inter-university research institutes that do not belong to a specific university have been created.

While maintaining its uniqueness and diversity, each institute makes a great contribution to the development of academic research in Japan as a Center of Excellence in its respective research field. Together, they also serve as an international core base to promote cooperation and exchange with research institutes and researchers abroad.