Japan finds itself in a difficult position regarding ongoing funding for research in turbulent financial times but is starting to be much more active on the world stage. The indicators show a positive future for Japan if the leadership of top researchers can cascade down to the broader research population and make Japan much more outward bound in its research collaboration landscape. If this is supported by funders with innovative approaches to funding and incentivising Japan’s increased engagement and visibility on the world research stage then Japan looks forward to a prosperous and important place in the global knowledge economy.