I2TA: Innovation and Institutionalization of Technology Assessment in Japan

The I2TA is an acronym for a research and development project (for fiscal years 2007 - 2010) called the "Innovation and Institutionalization of Technology Assessment (TA)". This project has been launched as a part of a research and development program, "Interactions between Science, Technology and Society" in the R&D Focus Area of "Science, Technology and Humanity" of the Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX), a research arm of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

What is TA?

Technology assessment (TA) is an activity which looks at technologies that cannot be dealt with within the conventional framework.It identifies new issues and challenges and presents directions for solutions to these challenges by anticipating or assessing a variety of future social impacts from an independent and impartial standpoint so as to support societal decision-making.

Objectives of the I2TA

The objectives of the I2TA Group are to explore appropriate ways for TA to meet the needs of society in future, to gain the understanding of stakeholders and the public on the significance of TA, and to promote the institutionalization of TA in society.

Activities of the I2TA

The I2TA assumes itself to be an implementing organization for TA, and carries out TA to meet social demands as well as public needs based on diverse information and knowledge. The group also discusses how to institutionalize TA in a way which is best suited to Japanese society. In order to achieve these objectives, we are carrying out the following activities:

  • Implementation of a number of tentative TA of nanotechnology which is expected to be applied in the fields of medicine, food processing and energy;
  • Implementation of mini-TA in order to quickly address new technological trends and social issues;
  • Investigation of and proposal for institutional options for prospective TA, e.g. TA by external organization funded by national institutes and/or government, or within research and development institutions;
  • Outreach programs to involve potential practitioners, clients and supporters for TA.

Current TA Projects

  • ENERGY (Nano-green)
  • Energy use and nanotechnology in future homes
    With a focus on increasing demand for energy-saving and resource-saving housing in future, we are carrying out TA of the use of nanotechnology in housing. In response to the needs identified in the past open workshops, such as for environment and health, and security and safety, we are developing concepts for future cities, homes and living. In 2010, we will sketch a model house in the Kashiwanoha district in Chiba Prefecture, which will be used as the basis for discussions with local experts and citizens on the applicability of nanotechnology and its benefits and risks.

  • MEDICINE (Nano-medicine)
  • Nano-drug delivery system (DDS) for cancer treatment
    A wide range of stakeholders, including scientists (in medical, engineering and pharmaceutical fields), practitioners (examiners and clinicians), government officials and the general public, are collaborating in the TA of various challenges in the development and societal introduction of nanotechnology-based DDS (liposome and micell in particular). We organized three Roundtable conferences in 2009/2010. Stakeholder representatives developed proposals for the research and development as well as for the introduction of nano-DDS to society (see TA Note). In 2010, we will distribute the proposals from Roundtable conferences through the outreach programs so as to implement the technology assessment in close collaboration with the activities of nano-DDS research and development.

  • FOOD (Food nanotechnologies)
  • Application of nanotechnologies to food
    Application of nanotechnology in food sector presents not only expected benefits but also the potential for unexpected risks and social impacts. Our activities so far include, information survey on food nanotechnologies, its state of research and development and potential applied products and study on the relevant discussion of such product in other jurisdiction. We also carried out an interview on experts in the relevant fields, and held a closed workshop with those experts on consumers and food technology to exchange their ideas and opinions. Based on these activities, in 2010, we will establish a panel of experts in related fields. From the results of discussion and deliberation by experts, we are planning to publish a report on societal implications and issues to be addressed regarding the application of nanotechnology to food and related products..

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine
    In October 2009, a vaccine for the prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection was approved in Japan. The virus is known to cause cervical cancer. In conjunction with the introduction of the HPV vaccine, we are organizing current issues and planning to make proposals with the expectation that they will be useful in discussions by the health policymakers as well as of the general public who are interested in the vaccine. Based on the knowledge of the technical properties of the vaccine, such as a mechanism for its efficacy, as well as social backgrounds and trends, such as low cancer screening rates in Japan and the state of vaccination efforts in other countries, we are examining various ways to promote the vaccination against HPV infection.

Organization and Member


Hideaki Shiroyama
Professor, University of Tokyo Graduate School for Law and Politics

Planning and Strategies Unit:

Masahiro Takemura
General Manager, International Affairs Office, Planning Division, National Institute for Materials Science

Go Yoshizawa
Project Lecturer, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo


Tatsujiro Suzuki
Former Project Leader / Member, Japan Atomic Energy Commission, Vice Chairman

External advisors for the project:

Hideaki Karaki
Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Shunichi Takebe
Chair, Japanese Association of Science & Technology Journalists

Overseas Panel:

David Cope
Director, UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST)

Christopher Hill
Professor, George Mason School of Public Policy

Arie Rip
Professor, University of Twente

Michael Rogers
Director, RREL, Ltd.


Yaichi Aoshima
Assistant Professor, Institute of Business Research, Hitotsubashi University

Gaku Ichihara
Associate Professor, Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine

Akifumi Ueda
Chairperson, Citizen Science Initiative Japan

Minako Oishi
Vice-Chairperson, Environment Committee, Corporate juridical person,

Yoshiyuki Uchida
Research Advisor Biomaterial Center National Institute for Materials Science

Kotaro Kuroda
Professor, President Office, Meijo University

Masashi Tachikawa
Professor, Ibaraki University, College of Agriculture

Tomoko Tsuchiya
Senior Researcher, Socio-economic Research Center, Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry

Yoshinori Nakagawa
Assistant professor, Department of Management, Kochi University of Technology

Ryoko Hatanaka
Project researcher, University of Tokyo Graduate School for Law and Politics

Yoshinobu Baba
Professor, Nagoya University Graduate School Engineering

Ayako Furuya
Project researcher, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo

Masahiro Matsuura
Associate Professor (Project), University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Public Policy

Makiko Matsuo
Project researcher, University of Tokyo Graduate School for Law and Politics

Takayuki Minato
Associate Professor, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Frontier Sciences

Koji Miyasaka
Senior Coordinator, MBK Project Holdings, Ltd.

Yuji Miyahara
Professor, Tokyo Medical and Dental University

Kensuke Yamaguchi
Project researcher, Graduate School of Public Policy, The University of Tokyo

Ryuji Yamamoto
Professor, University of Tokyo Graduate School for Law and Politics

Masaru Yarime
Associate Professor, Graduate Program in Sustainability Science (GPSS),
Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo

Ayumi Kojima
Editor and writer

Hanako Hatakeyama
Graduated Student,
Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology Graduated School of Agricultural Science


  • TA Note 01
    "Recent trends in the assessment and management of risks of multi-walled carbon nanotubes: responding to a precautionary measure from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare", March 31, 2009.

I2TA Group
Graduate School of Public Policy (GraSPP)
University of Tokyo 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku
Tokyo 113-0033 JAPAN

Tel: +81-(0)3-5841-7846
Fax: +81-(0)3-5841-7880

E-mail: info(at)2ta.org