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March 24, 2015

Ryoji Noyori to step down as RIKEN president

RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori, who has served in his position since 2003, released the following statement today announcing his intention to step down at the end of March.

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As of April 1, 2015, RIKEN will have a new status as a National Research and Development Institute. With the consent of the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, I have decided to take this opportunity to step down from my position as RIKEN president, effective March 31, 2015.

Over the 11 years and 6 months since my appointment in October 2003, I have dedicated my efforts to making RIKEN the bedrock for the launching of many of Japan’s advances in science, technology and innovation. Fortunately, RIKEN has attracted numerous outstanding scientists from inside and outside Japan, and these people have achieved creative and outstanding results, not least of which has been the discovery of element 113. RIKEN has also successfully completed two of Japan’s key technology projects—the SACLA X-ray Free Electron Laser and the K computer—and most recently, has launched the world’s first clinical trial in regenerative medicine using iPS cells. These achievements were only possible thanks to cooperation and considerable support from people in many different areas of endeavor, for which I am most grateful.

Despite this, however, because of a most unfortunate case of research misconduct that has severely tarnished RIKEN’s good reputation, I have had to implement major RIKEN-wide organizational and managerial reform directed at rectifying this situation. Last week, the Management and Action Plan Monitoring Committee commended these efforts in its report, and it is with some relief that I am assured the measures are proving to be effective and will be carried forward.

Research institutes are living, active participants of society and must respond to the needs of the times. RIKEN was established in 1917 by such great men of foresight as Jokichi Takamine and Eiichi Shibusawa. In the nearly 100 years since then, RIKEN has had to ride rough waters on several occasions and has undergone a number of transformations. Throughout, however, the RIKEN Spirit articulated by former president Masatoshi Okochi and others has remained unchanged and continues to be the driving force propelling us into the future.

With the change in status from an Independent Administrative Institution to a National Research and Development Institute, RIKEN will be reborn into a research institute dedicated to maximizing its research and development achievements, efficiently and effectively, based on both tradition and innovation. I will now be handing over leadership of this new RIKEN to Dr. Hiroshi Matsumoto, confident that he will ensure that RIKEN applies its considerable comprehensive strengths to become an entity that is valued, not only by the people of Japan but by all of humanity.

I would like to thank the many, many people who provided me with guidance and support during my tenure as president of RIKEN.

Ryoji Noyori, President