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Apr. 26, 2024

Recruiting Policy for FY 2024 RIKEN Early Career Leaders Program

Last year, RIKEN announced its “Measures for fostering and supporting young researchers” based on RIKEN’s Vision on the 2030 Horizon, which declares our goal to train the next generation of talented researchers and engineers, instilling in them the aptitude and skills necessary to meet tomorrow's challenges, making RIKEN an ever better setting for sharing exciting new ideas. The RIKEN Early Career Leaders Program (RIKEN ECL Program), which cultivates leadership in outstanding junior researchers with no or limited PI experience, was established as a key policy towards this goal. The first call was held last year, and after a rigorous selection process, the first round of promising junior PIs from around Japan and the world assumed posts at RIKEN this fiscal year.

The RIKEN ECL Program builds on the foundation of the RIKEN Hakubi Program, one part of RIKEN’s “brains without borders” initiatives, and further develops the Sechi Kato Program for talented women PIs, reevaluating and expanding the support we have offered previously. The RIKEN ECL Program and Sechi Kato Program are crucial measures for diversity at RIKEN, exemplified by the high ratio of women in the first round of PIs this fiscal year. However, as pointed out by our external evaluation last December, RIKEN’s overall gender balance is highly skewed by international standards, with the proportion of women PIs falling short of 10 percent. Looking at Japan as a whole, the proportion of women in research remains low, and the number of women PIs is still far off from the levels in other countries.

In order to break past this barrier, and as part of our effort to realize greater diversity for Japan overall, RIKEN has decided to limit this year’s RIKEN ECL Program call to women only. This call will be made through the Sechi Kato Program.

The adjustment of the gender balance, which is the ultimate goal of this call, will help to realize a better, more productive work environment for all researchers. The RIKEN ECL Program appoints excellent junior researchers with the makings of future scientific leaders as PIs. The PIs under the Sechi Kato Program will receive full support to promote their own research and consideration for realizing an environment that allows them to focus on their work. In this way, as a place where the world’s best research minds gather, RIKEN will proactively foster the next generation of international leaders who will pioneer new scientific fields.

Call details (Some details subject to change)

Expected to open the call in July 2024 (for about 3 months)
Start of post:
Between September 1, 2025 and April 1, 2026
Women only (Sechi Kato Program)
  • This call is in accordance with Article 8 of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law (Special Provisions of Measures Pertaining to Women Workers).
  • There is no age limit.
  • Next fiscal year (call for FY 2026 hires) will be open to all genders. We will continue to take measures to realize diversity.
Job title:
Team Leader or Unit Leader
Research fields:
Natural sciences (including mathematical science), research areas bordering/blending natural sciences with humanities and social science.
Fixed term. Will have the opportunity to apply to undergo screening for promotion to indefinite term employment.
Screening criteria:
Based on the academic and social importance, originality, innovativeness, and feasibility (i.e., validity of research methods and plan, candidate’s past achievements and results) of the proposed research theme.
Start-up expenses:
Please indicate initial expenses in your application, as we will provide support for a smooth lab start-up in addition to annual budget.
ECL Leaders receive assistance and advice from mentors (assigned to each Leader) on setting up their research team/unit, and on day-to-day laboratory management matters.
Support measures:
  • In order to promote the success of women researchers, an additional 10 million yen in research expenses annually will be granted on top of the regular budget.
  • If a PI takes maternity leave or childcare leave, her post may be extended by the length of time equal to the duration of leave.
  • 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 us if you are interested in spousal hiring or have any questions.