2 Japan universities in merger talks amid rising global competition

The Tokyo Institute of Technology and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University said Tuesday the two schools will begin discussing a merger amid intensifying competition among universities across the globe.

The institutions are expected to apply for a 10 trillion yen ($74 billion) government fund -- intended to bolster efforts to promote science and technology in Japan -- through the tie-up.

Kazuya Masu, president of Tokyo Institute of Technology, and Yujiro Tanaka, president of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, agreed to deliberate a merger, but a decision "necessitates wide-ranging discussions with members of the two universities," according to the announcement released on the schools' websites.

The institutions are yet to decide whether to build an operating corporation to manage the two universities or to create a new school altogether, sources familiar with the matter said.

The merger between the two schools, both under the "Designated National University" label used to signify an institution expected to compete on the global stage, will be a first if realized.

For fiscal 2021, the government has granted the Tokyo Institute of Technology 21.8 billion yen as an operating subsidy and the Tokyo Medical and Dental University 13.8 billion yen.

With the merger, the new institution will be equal in subsidy scale to that of Hokkaido University and the University of Tsukuba, which have been allotted 36.6 billion yen and 36.1 billion yen, respectively.

The 10 trillion yen government fund was established to bring institutions up to par with the world's top universities and will provide billions of yen per year to a selected number of national, public and private universities in Japan.

Applications are set to open this fiscal year, while the fund will begin disbursing money as early as fiscal 2024.

© Kyodo News