The trip marks State Premier Wüst’s first major visit abroad. By Friday, his itinerary will have taken in places including Tokyo, Osaka and Fukushima, where he will be holding political discussions and touring business and science centers and projects. He is being accompanied by a delegation of business leaders, the Rectors of the University of Bonn and Ruhr University Bochum, and the President of the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf. This is the first visit to Japan by a state premier of NRW since 2007.
Expanding partnerships in science and research
The knowledge and research environment in NRW boasts strong international ties. The positive and close relationship that the two countries enjoy in science and research is to be consolidated further, particularly in fields of future relevance such as robotics/AI, quantum computing, hydrogen and battery cell technology. Also on the agenda is greater collaboration on ethics between the Universities of Tokyo and Bonn.
The University of Bonn has enjoyed strong links in research and teaching with the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia at the University of Tokyo for a long time now, with the two institutions working closely together in a third project on AI and desirable digitalization. An "Agreement on Academic Exchange" is now to strengthen these links further, particularly with regard to greater collaboration on research projects of excellence. Among other things, the two sides have agreed to launch a joint project on the future of capitalism.
Close ties between NRW and Japan
The delegation is also visiting Osaka University, where the agreements to be struck include a partnership between the University of Bonn’s ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence and the Immunology Frontier Research Center (IFReC) at Osaka University. A joint international Research Training Group that is to award dual doctoral degrees from both universities in the future will be set up as part of this arrangement, with a corresponding funding proposal to be submitted to the German Research Foundation in the near future.
North Rhine-Westphalia is already the center of Japanese life in Germany. The state is home to nearly 11,000 people from the country (a third of Germany’s Japanese population), more than 7,000 of whom live in the administrative district of Düsseldorf. Over 600 Japanese companies employing some 47,000 staff are currently based in NRW, representing roughly 40 per cent of all Japanese firms in Germany. For their part, more than 100 companies from NRW are represented in Japan via subsidiaries. International links also play a prominent role in the knowledge and research environment, with around 190 partnerships in place right now between universities in NRW and Japan.