The 79th session of the Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP) was held at the Prime Minister's Office on February 20, 2009.
At the session, two reports were made: one on the analysis of science and technology-related budget requested by government for FY 2009, and another regarding the approaches for the strategic promotion of the “Low Carbon Technology Plan,” namely, follow-up activities and discussions on priority measures for promotion.
In addition, based on the report “Important Issues for Science and Technology Policy in 2009,” which was compiled by CSTP executive members referring to the Prime Minister’s Policy Speech and the “medium-to long term fiscal policy and an economic and fiscal outlook for next ten years,” the Council discussed the role of science and technology in an effort to achieve future growth.
In the latter half of the session, Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai of the University of Tsukuba provided a presentation. He developed the world’s first robot suit, named Cybersuit HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb), which expands and improves the physical capabilities of the person who wears it. Council members received his explanation about the details and objectives of his research and then exchanged views with him, focusing on the problems that should be overcome in the process of promoting the practical use of such research achievements.
In his presentation, Professor Sankai explained how this robot can expand, enhance and support the physical capabilities of a person, and also pointed out the challenges facing its future practical use. After the presentation, Prime Minister Aso said, “HAL will make it possible for people with physical disabilities to move their bodies as they wish. This is truly breakthrough technology that will make dreams come true. As I mentioned at the previous council meeting, where we received a lecture on iPS cell research, I think it is essential to put these amazing technological achievements into practical use. If this robot project proves successful, it could be a wonderful gift from Japan, bringing joy to people all around the world. I would like to request the relevant ministries and agencies to develop safety standards for this kind of robot, directly aiming at realizing this ultimate goal.