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Policy Research


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Meeting Policy Challenges with Pioneering Research

The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research (called the Tokyo Foundation through March 2018) was launched in 1997 with the aim of becoming Japan’s first world-class, independent public policy think tank. Over the past two decades, we have continued to make an impact on Japan’s policymaking debate, and many of our researchers have gone on to play leading roles in their respective areas of policy expertise.

These two decades have also been marked by political and economic stagnation in Japan. The country now finds itself at the forefront of the world’s most difficult demographic and geopolitical challenges, beset by a dwindling, aging population, rising regional tensions, and narrowing energy options. Policy ideas from what was the country’s biggest think tank—the bureaucratic machinery in Kasumigaseki—have become largely outdated. Now, more than ever, the country needs a private think tank offering realistic, evidence-backed policy alternatives to chart a path to a brighter future.

As the Foundation celebrates its twentieth anniversary, we are making a renewed commitment to our original goal of joining the ranks of the world’s most respected and prestigious think tanks. We are carrying out a fundamental reorganization of our activities and will reemerge—with a new name—in 2018 as an institute conducting advanced, high-quality policy research based on leading-edge theoretical principles and comprehensive data analysis. The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research aims to spearhead the search for the most effective solutions in meeting the world’s pressing policy challenges, and we look forward to working closely with all our partners.


Addressing Society’s Challenges with Innovative Policy Solutions

Japan has been mired in deflation and economic stagnation since the early 1990s owing to delays in the implementation of structural reforms, ballooning public debt, lack of political leadership, and many other factors. On a deeper level, though, the situation Japan finds itself in reflects the country’s relative decline in international standing and fundamental demographic shifts caused by the world’s fastest-graying population and a plummeting birthrate. Japan’s institutions and rules have not kept pace with these changes and are fast becoming outdated.

In addition to rapid aging, Japan must cope with a host of other issues, such as rural depopulation, a rising China, and narrowing energy options in the post-Fukushima era. Many of these challenges are unprecedented and cannot be addressed using conventional policy tools or by following the example of other countries. Policymakers require new, innovative solutions that bureaucrats—unaccustomed to thinking outside the box—cannot adequately provide.

This is a void that the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research seeks to fill. For Japan to become a leader in addressing the issues that many mature economies are now confronting, it must generate solutions that rest on sound theoretical foundations and draw on the breadth of available statistics. Accordingly, we have established a Data Center to gather and analyze a full array of qualitative and quantitative facts, substantially upgrading our ability to identify new policy approaches.

To get our policy proposals implemented, we also need to become actively engaged in the policymaking process, working closely with administrators and legislators and dialoging with the media and the general public.

While retaining our strengths as a private-sector, independent think tank, we are reorganizing ourselves into an institute for high-quality, evidence-based policy research offering innovative policy solutions that Japan—and other countries around the world—urgently need today.


Policy Research Cycle


Select Issue, Plan Project

The Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research’s policy experts undertake a thorough review of existing policies, analyzing and evaluating their impact and identifying areas that need improvement. Hypotheses are formulated, and estimates are made of their ramifications and impact if and when they are adopted.


Conduct Research

Research is conducted after an overall plan for the project is drawn up. The Foundation's research fellows and other policy experts organize workshops, meeting with people responsible for policy implementation to gather and analyze information. The proposals that have been tentatively formulated are tested and refined into those fully capable of addressing real challenges.

Quality management is implemented from multiple angles, with briefing sessions being held as needed during the project for fine-tuning and to ascertain progress.


Propose Policies

The conclusions of investigation and research are summarized into policy proposals and research papers while considering such factors as perceived need, likelihood of implementation, potential impact, and optimum timing. Their contents are objectively assessed by fellow researchers and other experts and announced to the public.


Publicize Findings

Simply announcing policy proposals and research findings will not lead to their realization. Policymakers will have to actually adopt them if they are to become more than just a printed document. Thus the Tokyo Foundation for Policy Research considers publicity efforts to be part of the policy-development process. In addition to basic communication activities, such as posting articles on our website, our researchers engage directly with policymakers, organize workshops with Diet members and other experts, actively submit opinion pieces to newspapers and magazines, and appear regularly on TV and radio programs. The recommendations are further developed through contact with leading figures in the respective fields.