Unstable Positions, Showy Representations, and Scientific Misconduct: The STAP Cell Scandal and the Vulnerability of the Research Regime in Japan
60 , 2016-02 , 広島工業大学
This paper focuses on the STAP cell scandal and investigates structural problems in the scientific regime in Japan. Owing to the Japanese government’s arguably failed policy of increasing the number of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, a multitude of junior scientists, including Haruko Obokata, the main figure of the STAP cell project, were under pressure from under-employment. The authors analyze the representative tactics of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) where Obokata’s scientific misconduct occurred. RIKEN, a prestigious research institute, has publicized showy experiments, sometimes transcending the realm of authentic science. This paper argues that the representations made by participants in the STAP cell scandal were analogous with preceding “magical” demonstrations.