September 6, 2013

Overseeing RIKEN’s big picture

Minoru Yonekura, Executive Director

RIKEN Board of Executive Directors

What is your role at RIKEN?

As a member of the Board of Executive Directors, I am involved in the entire management of RIKEN. The board is led by the president of RIKEN, Ryoji Noyori, and consists of five executive directors and two auditors. Our focus lies on strengthening the research and administrative systems of RIKEN so that we may achieve greater internationalization and competitiveness. We provide the leadership, direction and oversight required to maximize RIKEN’s potential in the global research arena. Personally, I hold responsibilities in finance, audit and compliance, external funding and information infrastructure.

How did you join RIKEN?

I was seconded to RIKEN from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in April 2013. Previously at MEXT, I worked closely with RIKEN and in 2006, I became director of the Policy Planning Division—a position I held for just under two years.

Until March 2013, I served as a member of the board of trustees and vice president of the University of Tsukuba, during which I helped to launch a joint project with the RIKEN BioResource Center, as part of the larger Tsukuba Science City initiative. Despite having only been an executive director at RIKEN for three months, I feel that I have had a smooth start thanks to my previous experiences.

What has been the most memorable event for you during your time at RIKEN?

Most of my memorable events relate to the period of time when I worked closely with RIKEN while based at MEXT. I was involved in the launch of a number of exciting projects including the recently reorganized RIKEN International Frontier Research Program, the SACLA x-ray free electron laser and the K computer.

What is the best thing about working at RIKEN?

On a day-to-day basis at RIKEN, I am able to interact with scientists who are engaging in the world’s most advanced research. I find it exciting to work here, knowing that RIKEN is leading not only in terms of the research performed, but also the research environment and systems that we provide. Political and business leaders often mention our research and achievements, something that makes me proud of me working at RIKEN.

What would you say to other people considering joining RIKEN?

In addition to pioneering new science and technology, RIKEN strives to adjust and improve as an organization over time. RIKEN is a highly invigorating environment in which to work, and we welcome those who wish to take on new challenges in both research and management positions.

What do you hope to achieve as part of your return to RIKEN?

I was extremely pleased to be granted an opportunity to work at RIKEN once again. The beginning of RIKEN’s third five-year term coincided with my return, and major organizational changes have been introduced. Through my contributions, I hope to assist scientists to dev­elop their research and RIKEN as a whole to mature into a world-leading science institution with the ability to flexibly adapt to changes both inside and outside of Japan.