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FY 2024 Call for RIKEN ECL Team / Unit Leaders (Sechi Kato Program)


RIKEN started RIKEN Early Career Leaders (ECL) Program in FY 2023 which declares our goal to train the next generation of talented researchers and engineers. The RIKEN ECL program provides two types of positions, Team Leader and Unit Leader, for highly talented junior researchers with no or limited PI experience depending on one’s career stage and research plans. RIKEN has decided to limit this year’s RIKEN ECL Program call to women researchers. This call will be made through the Sechi Kato Program. Please see ‘Recruiting Policy for FY 2024 RIKEN Early Career Leaders Program’ .

  • Sechi Kato (1893-1989) was a pioneering female scientist who developed spectrometric analysis of organic materials. She was also the first female Chief Scientist of RIKEN.
  • In compliance with Article 8 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (Special Provisions of Measures Pertaining to Women Workers), this type of recruitment is carried out as a measure to attain adequate levels of female representation. RIKEN ECL Program will be open to all genders next fiscal year (call for FY 2025). We will continue to take measures to realize diversity.

Job title

  • RIKEN ECL Team Leader (roughly equivalent to department head or early career professor)
    Early career researchers who can challenge and lead ambitious research fields that have high scientific and social impact.
  • RIKEN ECL Unit Leader (roughly equivalent to section chief or associate professor/assistant professor)
    Early career researchers who ambitiously explore research themes that are scientifically and socially important based on their unique ideas.

Note: Please select which of the positions you would like to apply for when you register your information. Please note that if, during the selection process, it is determined that the other position is more suitable, you may be asked to present for the other position in the interview screening process.


Applicants should be women researchers who have appropriate knowledge, experience, and abilities to supervise and promote research.

  • A doctoral degree or an equivalent competence is required for this position.
  • There is no age limit.
  • Full-time appointment at RIKEN is assumed, but please contact us if you would like to make cross-appointments.

Research fields

Natural sciences (including mathematical science and information science) or research areas bordering/blending natural sciences with humanities and social sciences.

Research environment

  • Annual research budget (amount supported by Sechi Kato Program)
    Team Leader: 10 to 50 million yen per year (an average of 40 million yen).
    Unit Leader: approximately 20 million yen per year.
    Note: In addition to the annual research budget, initial expenses for a smooth lab start-up will be provided. And ECL program will cover ECL Team / Unit Leader's personnel costs.
  • In general, Team Leaders will be assigned a lab space of up to 150 square meters in total. Unit Leaders will be assigned suitable space in their host center at RIKEN.
  • The ECL Team / Unit Leaders will be assigned a research centers of RIKEN (List) and a laboratory space at one of RIKEN’s campuses in Japan.
    Note: Please select one research center where you wish to work and indicate that when you register your information. In the screening process, if it is suggested that another center is appropriate for your research, depending on the content of the research proposal, the suggested center may conduct your screening.
  • The ECL Team / Unit Leaders receive assistance and advice from two mentors (assigned to each Team / Unit Leader) for setting up the laboratory and for day-to-day laboratory management matters.
  • ECL Teams / Units can be host laboratories for applicants for Special Postdoctoral Researchers, JSPS Postdoctoral Researchers, Junior Research Associate, International Program Associates, and RIKEN Student Researchers. Personnel costs with hosting these programs are covered by each program.
  • To ensure a variety of work styles, remote work may be available while in Japan under certain conditions. If you are interested, please consult when you apply.
  • RIKEN is actively undertaking initiatives to promote gender equality and diversity, and moving forward with the establishment of a diverse and vibrant research environment. As an all-RIKEN measure, a variety of programs are available for balancing work and personal life, including on-campus childcare facilities (in Wako, Yokohama, and Kobe), support for returning to work after a break, and subsidies for hiring support staff for researchers with family priorities (i.e., pregnancy, childcare, and nursing care).
  • Please consult if you are interested in spousal hiring.

Start of employment

Between September 1, 2025, and April 1, 2026.

Term of employment

The maximum term of appointment is seven years. (Multiple-year contracts, which are limited to five years, or single-year contracts will be signed.)
Note: If the ECL Team / Unit Leader takes maternity leave or childcare leave, her post may be extended by the length of time equal to the duration of leave.

Salary and benefits

The ECL Team Leader’s annual salary is 10.92 million yen per year, and the ECL Unit Leader’s annual salary is 8.52 million yen per year (including social insurance premiums and tax). Commuting and housing allowances will be provided. Social insurance will be applied. Bonuses and retirement benefits will not be paid. Mandatory membership in the RIKEN Mutual Benefit Society (RIKEN Kyosaikai). These and other provisions are in accordance with RIKEN regulations.

Work hours: 9:00 to 17:20 (lunch break 12:00 to 12:50) in principle. However, employee may change starting and ending times at their own discretion if it does not interfere with work performance. Days off include Saturdays, Sundays, public holidays, New Year's holidays (Dec. 29 – Jan. 3), and RIKEN Foundation Day. Paid leave includes annual paid leave (up to 20 days depending on the month of employment), special paid leave (childcare, family nursing care, etc.), and work life balance holidays (up to 7 days depending on the month of employment). There are also additional leave systems such as maternity leave, childcare leave, and family nursing care leave.

Smoking is entirely prohibited on site.


RIKEN provides a variety of career development support for the ECL Team / Unit Leaders.

  • In principle, the ECL Team / Unit Leaders will have an opportunity to apply to undergo screening for indefinite-term PI positions in the fifth year of their service after appointment.
  • RIKEN promotes support for researchers transferring out RIKEN as part of the “Brains without Borders” concept. The ECL Team / Unit Leaders who are promoted to universities or other institutes receive as much support as possible, including research budget to continue developing their research without interruption, while maintaining their collaboration with RIKEN.

Application and deadline


Applicant registration
To register, access the website noted below, and enter the required basic information including preferred position, etc.

Sechi Kato Program for RIKEN ECL Team Leaders / Unit Leaders

After online registration is complete, you will receive an automatic email message sent from ecl-program[at]spdr-fpr.com. Follow the instructions on the email to access the website and upload your application documents.


For applicant registration:
September 19, 2024 (noon, Japan time).

For revising or uploading application documents and recommendation letters:
September 26, 2024 (noon, Japan time).

[Application documents]

All application documents should be prepared in English and submitted in PDF format.

  • 1.Research proposal for preferred position (up to 6 pages, A4 size)
    (including initial expenses and required space (m2), budget estimate, equipment and facilities required for research, and staff members plan of the laboratory)
  • 2.Reason of your preference center (up to 1 page, A4 size)
  • 3.List of publications, presentations, and achievements (including grants, patents, awards, etc.)
  • 4.Outline of your research to date (up to 1 page, A4 size)
  • 5.Representative papers (maximum of 5 papers)
  • 6.Consent form for handling personal information based on GDPR
    *If you are a resident of the European Economic Area (EEA) or UK, you are required to submit this document.
  • 7.Recommendation letters from three persons who can evaluate your work
    References should send the recommendation letter directly to RIKEN. A request for a recommendation letter will be automatically sent from “ecl-program[at]spdr-fpr.com” to the email addresses of references that you list in the applicant registration. Please make sure to enter their email addresses correctly.

Other matters

  • 1.No information will be released concerning application status or evaluation details.
  • 2.Submitted documents will be handled in accordance with the RIKEN rules concerning personal information, and only used for screening applications for this position. Personal information will not be disclosed, transferred, or lent to any third party without a justifiable reason. However, for applicants who proceed to the final interview, we may provide their application documents only to the personnel committee of the related research centers of RIKEN, and there will be an opportunity to offer for a fixed-term Team Leader/Unit Leader position other than the RIKEN ECL Program until September 2025.
  • 3.Personal data related to diversity, such as gender, nationality, and age will be used for anonymous statistical analysis to monitor staff diversity and will not be used in the selection process.
  • 4.The provisions for this position are premised on RIKEN’s current budget and are subject to change with any change in the budget.

For more information, please refer to FAQs.

Contact information

RIKEN ECL Program Desk
Research Personnel Affairs Section, RIKEN
ecl-program [at] ml.riken.jp