Building bridges between Japan and Norway
Hiroshi Matsumoto looks forward to uniting Norwegian and Japanese scientists in new research projects.
“I am really happy to learn more about the University of Bergen and its scientific strengths. Now I can promote Norway as a whole to Japanese researchers and partners”, says Hiroshi Matsumoto, after a week long visit to Bergen and the University of Bergen (UiB).
In December 2015, the University of Bergen (UiB) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) joined forces to establish a collaboration with Innovation Norway in Tokyo, aiming to strengthen research and educational cooperation with Japan.
Matsumoto started his job as adviser in the Innovation office at the Norwegian embassy in Tokyo in April, 2016.
“Today, Norway is seen as a bit remote by the Japanese. One of my main goals is to improve knowledge of Norwegian science in Japan,” Matsumoto says.
Matsumoto has served as Horizon 2020 National Contact Point Coordinator in Japan. He has 35 years of experience from research in plasma physics and nuclear fusion, as well as from more than 20 years in international research projects.
After his visit to UiB, he sees several possible projects involving collaborations between Norwegian and Japanese scientists, one example being offshore wind energy, where Japan needs to increase competence in maritime science and engineering.
“Norway, on the other hand, has a a strong accumulation of knowledge and experts on how to build a offshore wind turbines, and UiB has knowledge on the marine aspect, for example. Japan and Norway have clear mutual benefits in working together with complementary relations,” Matsumoto says.
He emphasizes that UiB and NTNU both have unique advantages through their solid participation in EU funded research.
“This means that Japanese scientists can enter larger, global projects through UiB and NTNU” says Matsumoto.
Increasing student exchange
One of his other main tasks is strengthening educational cooperation between the two countries. Matsumoto is convinced that exchanges of students between Japanese universities and UiB can increase.
“Several key universities are now offering many courses and programs in English, the language barrier is not as big an obstacle as it has been. I want to provide information on what Norwegian students can achieve in Japan,” he says.
Matsumoto thinks there is a great cultural merit to be gained from studying in Japan: different ways of thinking and solving problems than in Europe.
“But in the end, we are all the same. Stereotypes are torn down if you get to know other individuals personally,” he concludes.