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RIKEN splashed cash on luxury furniture to use up budget: magazine

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RIKEN splashed cash on luxury furniture to use up budget: magazine

.Maybe the JPY 10 million would have been better spent on someone to check on the researcher's work.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

This ain't the 80s. That money should have gone to research or even (gasp) returned to be used judiciously.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Spending money to meet the expense budgets is a very common practice. In my company advertising expense increases towards the year end since the marketers try to use all their allocated budget before year end. Everyone knows that if you do not use that money, you will be allocated less in next year's budget.

It seems that someone is trying to get back to RIKEN in this STAP debacle and this is the best they can come up with.

14 ( +18 / -4 )

Oh, an old guy spending money like it's 1985?! What else is new? This whole RIKEN debacle seems fishy to me so I am not really surprised that some over the hill oyaji would consider this good practice. The whole place is full of them.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Is this any more wasteful than digging up (destroying) good roads so that they can replace them with an equally good road? This happens all over Japan near the end of the financial year. Why? Everyone knows the answer to that? To use up the budget so that can get more money than they need the next year.

If they do not spend all their budget, they get less the following year. A reduction in budget means a reduction in power and status. This kind of wastefulness is commonplace in Japan. The problem is it has become endemic and is generally accepted.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

You're right on the "money"...Kronos and gaijintraveler. Spending the entire budget at the end of the fiscal year so that you don't end up with less the following year is soooo commonplace. I've seen teachers buy Dvds and books for their own personal use. And it wouldn't suprise me if some of this luxurious furniture or the previous used furniture didn't end up in someone's home.

I've always spoken up that unused budgets should go into one lump sum. Then, if needed, a department could request money from there. There just needs to be more accountability.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The furniture should have been Japanese. The multiplier effect would be greater.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Cut & Paste is free so you need to spend the money somewhere, why not for a comfortable chair to do it from.

And honestly, I wish the billion yen company I work at would use some of it's money on sprucing the place up. The chairs and desks I sit in are probably the same ones they used in the 40s when they founded the company. Musty.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

“When I was at the institute, it was having a tough time spending its budget within a fiscal year, so it would frequently do interior renovations,” the researcher, who was not identified, was quoted as saying.

I could certainly help you spend it however, donations to hospitals, daycare centres and other "worthy" causes would seem more appropriate to me than Italian furniture.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

MY question is, if everyone knows that about the road, why is the institute that hands out money every year still handing out money even though they know its going to be wasted on perfectly good roads? This whole system needs an overhaul.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In the U.S.government and military, this is the status quo. You have to show you used it all up in order to get an increase the following year.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

it is practiced all over the world, in every country on earth.

0 ( +3 / -2 )

This was back in 2011. Actually the researchers kept on asking why this idiotic system can't be changed, and recently there has been some improvement. A part of the research money can now be carried over to the next year (繰り越し).

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Use it or lose it with the next allocation of funds.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the lavish spending was part of a drive to use up its approximately 100 billion yen budget before the April 1 end of the fiscal year.

This system is rampant in Japan. Why do you think they dig up Tokyo's roads -- whether they need it or not -- every February and March?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I've worked with Riken for many years and as a taxpayer was appalled to discover this system existed. I will stick up for Riken though, as I know for a fact that it's a major irritant to the researchers. As @timeon stated, they were in the ridiculous position of not being allowed to carry money over (even if they had a clear need for it in the following year) and of facing a reduction in budget if they underspent. I know people there who basically spent most of the last month of the year trying to spend exactly the right amount of money - no more, no less. It's a massive systemic fault, not something restricted to Riken - it's no wonder we have such a massive national debt. What this nonsense means is that there is almost no way to bring down public expenditure without cutting services. Nobody within the system has any incentive to find efficiencies. Which is why, for all it's faults, the previous administration deserves credit for going through the budget line-by-line with a big red pen and eliminating a lot of waste.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

In some countries, Japanese tyoe furnitures are considered luxury. Italian furnitures? Riken was ripped off gladly, I;d bet. Or maybe Japanese furnitures are more expensive even it is not imported from somewhere?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

RIKEN should be renamed KENRI (privelage).

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It's exactly the same in the university: we have to spend everything by the end of March. We also bought some new office furniture (not Italian), although I declined the offer of a new chair in favour of a top-of-the-range computer.

It also depends on the source of the funds and how you receive them. If I ask a company to make a "personal donation" (via the university) I can keep the money until I need it. If the company pays it as some sort of collaborative research funding then I have to use it by the end of the financial year.

The companies don't really care one way or the other, so I can build up a stockpile of cash through "personal donations". But if you get a government grant you have to use it within the fiscal year.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Riken should expand Onokuta's research instead of spending worthless Italian furnitures/ I read Washinon Post report on that conversations that Hong Kong researhcer complained and Riken bowed apolgixed and bpwed and bowed. You can read Washinton Post dertails by Riken Addresses Stem Cell ... to learn how it went to xcriticxise Obokuta. Wasting money is more important at Riken????

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'M AN "overseas" GUEST. Do I too get a furniture souvenir?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I have a feeling this ... preocupation with Riken actually is a way of distracting people's attention from some very important points:

Who is interested in putting a break on this particular research? Who is interested in putting a break/end on the successful research that Japan has already accomplished? What other trivial matters can be brought to the public eye, so that the public opinion can be manipulated to self-sabotage an entire country? Good scientists are a national treasure, and a national institute should have decent furniture. Tired of success? Then keep on bullying the ones who brought - or are trying to bring success to Japan.
3 ( +3 / -0 )

Are they going to blame this on Obokata as well?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The respected RIKEN Institute, headed by Nobel chemistry laureate Ryoji Noyori,

Should read the once respected institute headed by the neglectful laureate Ryoji Noyori squandered public funds.

This guy needs to get the boot and someone with responsible morals appointed to run this outfit. make being accountable for use of public funds a requirement.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

That institute is a kindergarten. Blaming their scientists to get their own head out of the noose, spending money on expensive Italian furniture...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This problem is rampant country wide, the amounts wasted are colossal in scale EVERY YEAR!!

I would love to have my taxes lowered to reflect the thieving & pilfering that goes on here.

As I have often said I figure between 20-35% of budgets for the various govt offices are wasted through inefficiency, amakudari, kick backs, wasting budgets, bid rigging etc etc

I am pretty sure it would be EASY to cut the entire country budget by 20% easily, but alas it will never happen & we the people are paying the price when we should all have more $$$ in our accounts after taxes but NO!!! Truly disgusting!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You would think it wasn't the money that brought prestige to RIKEN but the research they produce. Maybe they should rewrite their charter.

Meanwhile remove all the deadwood that abandoned Obokata plus all the waste and see what's left. Then do that with all kinds of agencies and departments and the debt would probably be paid off. Otherwise go for more tax increases, gotta keep the cashola rolling

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very sad state of affairs and SHAMEFUL!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of the most difficult things in science is that you always need some expensive equipment or materials that you don't have. 10 million yen could easily be expended in a couple of nice machines that would benefit researchers for many years, or to buy common materials useful in many different kinds of research and that you can keep for months in the fridge without problem. There is simply not excuses to expend it on luxury items.

For example, a single "Next generation sequencing" run can cost above 500,000 yen, if you have an institute with a couple of projects working on genetic markers in cancer you use the money in no time flat.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it is practiced all over the world, in every country on earth.

Yep. I've been party to the end of fiscal spending sprees on a couple of occasions in Canada and the US.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as they don't spend any surplus on furniture next year. Budget-killing is the norm anywhere there are accounting standards. It's a necessary evil, as long there are provisions against croneyism and kickbacks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Those stem-cells like luxury

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Riken is a BS company.My guess Obokata is the victim of sabatoge.The old boys club couldn't stand being showed up by a young bright female researcher.So sad for her,wish her luck!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Shameful, but read 'any National University in Japan' into this too...the end of fiscal year spending spree is a disgrace.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This comes as no surprise.

I did a stint as as sysadmin at a RIKEN facility about ten years ago, and when it came time to empty the budget out, the people responsible bought a whole rack of computer servers that they didn't need... only to discover that the data centre didn't have enough electrical capacity to power them on. So they just sat there!

Wish they gave me a pay rise instead, but they didn't, so I left...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@honey: "My guess Obokata is the victim of sabotoge" There are many comments on JT supportive of Obokata. But...

1) Not one single other scientist has even produced a STAP cell using her method 2) A genetic analysis of some of the claimed STAP cells shows they come from mice used in completely separate experiments for the creation of embryonic stem cells. Investigations have proven that one of her colleagues gave her a mouse, asked her to make STAP cells from the mouse, and Obokata handed him back cells from a completely different animal, claiming they were STAP cells.

I know many people on this site, me included, sometimes like to rail against the Japanese "establishment", but that does not mean the establishment is in the wrong every time. Supporting Obokata might fit your narrative on how Japanese society suppresses precocious talent, but unfortunately, it does not fit the evidence in this case.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"A publicly-funded research institute in Japan, already embattled after accusing one of its own stem cell scientists of faking data, has spent almost 10 million yen on designer Italian furniture"

As a taxpayer, I am outraged!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every firm does this that is allocated a certain amount. 10mm out of their 100bn yen budget is nothing - if anything, blame the people who allocate the money for tying expense spending w/ progress.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Jpn guy, No story in this country ends as simply as you are suggesting.At the very least,she has been made a scape goat for a clearly unprofessional institution.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@honey: Sure the checks and balances at Riken might be slack but Obokata is the one at the core of the scandal handing people ES cells and passing them off as STAP cells. I would agree someone else at Riken should have noticed what was going on.

But that is not what you said in your original post. You say she was "sabotaged" which would mean you think STAP cells genuinely exist.

The problem with that position is you have to explain why DNA of the alleged STAP cells comes from a strain of mice used to generate pluripotent cells using other known and existing methods. Are you suggesting that Obokata is honest, STAP cells really exist, and someone else has faked the DNA evidence against her by secretly replacing her genuine STAP cells with other pluripotent cells in order to stymie her research?

That's quite a claim. Of course that could logically be possible, but then why can no-one else replicate what she did?

I think you need to apply Occam's razor here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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