Establishment of an International Laboratory Dedicated to Mathematics in Japan

International Institutional

On October 3, 2023, Antoine Petit, CEO of CNRS, and Prof. Takeshi Saito, Dean of the Graduate School of Mathematical Sciences, signed an agreement establishing a new international research laboratory (IRL): the French-Japanese Laboratory of Mathematics and its Interactions (FJ-LMI). This is the first CNRS international mathematics laboratory in Japan.

Historical French-Japanese Collaboration Tradition

For decades, numerous collaborations between France and Japan have profoundly influenced 20th-century mathematics. Notable figures include Claude Chevalley and Teiji Takagi, Kiyosi Itô, Paul Malliavin and Marc Yor, Heisuke Hironaka and Alexander Grothendieck, Goro Shimura and André Weil, and Masaki Kashiwara, Michèle Vergne, and Pierre Schapira. The first step towards structuring this cooperation, supported by numerous individual initiatives, began in 2020 with the creation of an International Research Network (IRN) ReaDiNet in the field of mathematics applied to life sciences. This international research network includes researchers from not only Japan but also Taiwan and South Korea. Thus, the political will to structure Franco-Japanese cooperation in mathematics led to the idea of creating a new laboratory.

Given the extent and intensity of exchanges between researchers in France and their counterparts at the University of Tokyo, CNRS Mathematics deemed it appropriate to launch this project, strategic in terms of international cooperation. It was spearheaded by Michael Pevzner, a professor at the Laboratory of Mathematics of Reims (CNRS/University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne).

For nearly a century, there have been numerous collaborations between French and Japanese mathematicians, especially those from Tokyo. We wanted to step up, to establish a structure to allow colleagues to develop their research projects involving more students and doctoral candidates
Michael Pevzner, French Director of FJ-LMI.

Michael Pevzner himself was motivated by his personal experience, having collaborated for nearly 15 years with Japanese researcher Professor Toshiyuki Kobayashi. The creation of this new international laboratory "officializes" and strengthens existing relationships between researchers.

Beyond my own experience, I think it's good to have a systematic way to set up collaborations between French and Japanese researchers. So, I immediately thought it was an excellent idea.
Toshiyuki Kobayashi, Japanese Director of FJ-LMI.

The choice of the Japanese institutional partner was reinforced by the establishment, on October 4, 2022, of an International Research Center (IRC) by CNRS and the University of Tokyo, aimed at promoting collaboration and bilateral exchanges to foster higher-level transdisciplinary scientific cooperation between these two institutions. The creation of an IRL dedicated to mathematics with an internationally renowned academic partner follows this logic. The University of Tokyo is considered the top university in Japan and Asia and is within the top 30 universities worldwide.

An International Laboratory Dedicated to Mathematics, a First in Japan

The French-Japanese Laboratory of Mathematics and its Interactions (FJ-LMI) is the first institution entirely dedicated to collaboration between France and Japan in mathematics. Its scientific strategy is centered around four axes:

  • Algebraic and arithmetic geometry;
  • Geometric group theory, Lie theory, representation theory;
  • Analysis and control of PDEs, inverse problems;
  • Mathematics in interaction with life sciences.

Currently, about fifty researchers are involved in collaborations between CNRS units and the University of Tokyo. The goal of FJ-LMI is to offer a structure to further develop existing activities while promoting exchanges and the project among young French scientists. Two tools will be provided to the community: opportunities for short stays, as well as the chance for long-term stays by assigning researchers directly to this new laboratory.

We already have several requests for long or short stays, from people who want to come and work on their projects in Tokyo.
Michael Pevzner, French Director of FJ-LMI.

In the long term, FJ-LMI aims to establish itself as a platform for French mathematicians wanting to come to Japan. While the current partner is the University of Tokyo, the laboratory will also naturally strengthen collaborations with other Japanese institutions.

To inspire the next generation of researchers? Both directors of FJ-LMI agree: the quality of research and the attractiveness of the academic environment of the University of Tokyo are strong points of the laboratory, as well as the quality of life in Japan. The long-standing tradition of scientific collaboration creates a unique chemistry between the mathematical communities of the two countries, which the laboratory aims to further enhance.

I have the impression that even people who are not mathematicians tend to respect mathematics, both in France and in Japan. We have different ways of thinking, but the same respect for mathematics in both countries.
Toshiyuki Kobayashi, Japanese Director of FJ-LMI.