What Should We Learn From the Recent Decline of Basic Cardiovascular Science in Japan?
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In this issue of Circulation Research, Shimokawa et al1 report that the number of scientific publications submitted from Japan to the American Heart Association journals recently has dropped impressively compared with just 17 years ago (from 164 papers in 2000 down to only 45 in 2016), when Japan published more papers than any other country except for the United States and Germany. Although the recent decline in the number of Japanese papers published in many, if not all, areas of science has been reported repeatedly,2 the report by Shimokawa et al struck us as particularly noteworthy because the decline in the field of basic cardiovascular sciences seems more prominent than that in some other areas of basic science in Japan. The authors of this Editorial think that probing the causes of this dramatic decline and discussing what can be done to halt the slump are useful for the cardiovascular basic science community worldwide, because many developed countries share at least some of the causes of the decline we have witnessed recently in Japan.
Article, see p 331
Why Is It Happening?
The focus of research and its methodology have changed dramatically during the past 2 decades. Compared with the more descriptive papers published in the 1990s, recent publications published in the American Heart Association journals include more mechanistic investigations, often with more complex studies using multidisciplinary approaches requiring collaborations with investigators across the field. One can argue that the recent slump in Japan may be caused simply by the fact that the area of research and its methodology has shifted away from those on which Japanese scientists are focused.
Another contributing factor may be the status of the Japanese economy. The long-lasting economic slump since the early 1990s and increased spending on social security, because of the rapidly growing population aged …