In 1913, the well-known scientist Jokichi Takamine first proposed the establishment of a national science research institute in Japan. This task was taken on by Viscount Shibusawa Eiichi, a prominent businessman, and following a resolution by the Diet in 1915, Riken came into existence in March 1917. In its first incarnation, Riken was a private foundation (zaidan), funded by a combination of industry, the government, and the Imperial Household. It was located in the Komagome district of Tokyo, and its first Director was the mathematician Baron Dairoku Kikuchi.
In 1927, Viscount Masatoshi ?k?chi, the third Director, established the Riken Concern (a zaibatsu). This was a group of spin-off companies that used Riken's scientific achievements for commercial ends and returned the profits to Riken. At its peak in 1939 the zaibatsu comprised about 121 factories and 63 companies, including Riken Kank?shi, which is now Ricoh.
After the war, the Allies dissolved Riken as a private foundation, and it was brought back to life as a company called Kagaku Kenky?jyo (), or Kaken (). In 1958 the Diet passed the Riken Law, whereby the institute returned to its original name and entered its third incarnation, as a public corporation (?,tokushu h?jin), funded by the government. In 1963 it relocated to a large site in modern day Wak? then "" until 1970 in Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo.
Since the 1980s Riken has expanded dramatically. New labs, centers, and institutes have been established in Japan and overseas, including:
in 2000, the Yokohama Institute, which now contains four centers for research in the life sciences
in 2002, the Kobe Institute, which contains the Center for Developmental Biology
In October 2003, Riken's status changed again, to Independent Administrative Institution. As such, Riken is still publicly funded, and it is periodically evaluated by the government, but it has a higher degree of autonomy than before. Riken is regarded as the flagship research institute in Japan and conducts basic and applied experimental research in a wide range of science and technology fields including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology and engineering.
Riken was the subject of international attention in 2014 after the Stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cell (also known as STAP) publication, investigation, retraction, and suicide of Yoshiki Sasai, the principal investigator. Observers, journalists, and former members of Riken have stated that the organization is riddled with unprofessional and inadequate scientific rigor and consistency, and that this is reflective of serious issues with scientific research in Japan in general.
Main Research Building in Wako
Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe
The main divisions of Riken are listed here. Purely administrative divisions are omitted.
Headquarters (mostly in Wako)
Center for Emergent Matter Science (research on new materials for reduced power consumption)
Center for Sustainable Resource Science (research toward a sustainable society)
The Riken Super Combined Cluster is one of the world's fastest supercomputers. In January 2006, Riken set up the Next-Generation Supercomputer R&D Center, with the purpose of designing and building the fastest supercomputer in the world, and in June 2006, it announced the completion of a one-petaFLOPS computer system designed specially for molecular dynamics simulation. Currently a new system, the K computer is being installed at Riken and despite it being still not finished, it topped the LINPACK benchmark with the performance of 8.162 petaFLOPS, or 8.162 quadrillion calculations per second, with a computing efficiency ratio of 93.0%, making it the fastest supercomputer in the world at the time. The complete project entered service in November 2012.
Toshio Takamine, specialist in spectroscopy, author of The "Near Infra-Red Spectra of Helium and Mercury" and "Absorption of Ha Line" and "The structure of mercury lines examined by an echelon grating and a Lummer-Gehrcke plate"
^Kitano, H.; Asada, M.; Kuniyoshi, Y.; Noda, I.; Osawa, E. (1997). "Robo Cup". Proceedings of the first international conference on Autonomous agents - AGENTS '97. p. 340. doi:10.1145/267658.267738. ISBN0897918770.