From a newsletter that hit my inbox recently:
Japan’s Tentative Science Budget for 2009
Japan’s new Prime Minister, Taro Aso, participated in his first meeting of the Council for Science and Technology Policy (CSTP). The CSTP is the major decision-making body for science and technology within Japan’s Cabinet Office.
The meeting on 31 Oct. discussed the annual budget for science and technology for 2009 and the important issues which should be prioritized within the budget. With a requested increase of 14% for the overall science and technology budget, greater importance is being placed on areas of research such as innovative technologies, environmental energy technologies, science and technology diplomacy, activation of science and technology in the regions, and projects for the solution of social problems. Overall the budgetary requests for these areas increased by 43% on last year.
The budget requests were received from each Government Ministry in August 2008. The Cabinet will decide on the 2009 budget in December. The Diet, Japan’s Parliament will vote on the budget before 1 April 2009.
Only a 14% increase? We will have to do our best to cope in these hard times :-) Of course the article says this is only a "request" and it may not all make it through into the final budget, but I suspect that the requests were tuned to fit some off-the-record hints and the final outcome will be very similar. Given the current international economic climate, Japan doesn't seem like a bad place to be!