“April Fool’s Day is not really a thing in Japan, so whereas many companies in the West tend to avoid the first of the month when making important announcements, it is in no way unusual that the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), the nation’s second-largest public-sector research funder chose April 1st, 2022 to unveil its revised open access policy and implementation guidelines with a typical lack of fanfare outside of its home country….
Such a comparatively low-key approach is in line with past precedent as Japanese funding bodies such as JST, have typically opted for a light-touch and iterative approach to open access policies – which for the most part have been developed in consultation with publishers – in contrast to counterparts in other countries that have put forward more radical and headline-generating open access initiatives such as the US OSTP “Holdren Memo”, Plan S, and UKRI’s open access policy announced in mid-2021. Previous versions of the JST open access policy issued in 2013 and 2017 went little remarked upon in many open science circles and were notable for their conciliatory approach, in contrast to the openly-stated ambition to disrupt and reform the world of scholarly publishing of many other funders. Following this consultative tradition, the current policy was circulated in draft form to publisher members of CHORUS, of which JST is a participating funder, for comment prior to publication….
The most noticeable difference between the new policy and previous iterations is the introduction of an embargo period which stipulates that at minimum the Accepted Manuscript (AM) of any paper arising from a project submitted for funding to JST after the go-live date of April 1, 2022, must be made publicly accessible in an institutional or public repository in Japan within 12 months of publication of the resultant journal article. Whilst cautious by European standards, this is the first time that an embargo of any type has been included in the JST policy. In addition to AMs of research articles, the policy covers those of review articles and conference papers. While the revised policy signals a preference for the green route and does not mandate that the VoR be made available open access, publication as an open access article is a “permitted” route and under the new policy, APCs are fully reimbursable from grant money….
Furthermore, it is notable that both the policy and its implementation guidelines are silent on the twin subjects of transformative journals and transformative agreements. …
Advocates of faster and more radical transformation will probably lament the lack of clarity or silence on certain issues – such as a ban on publishing in hybrid journals and gaps around CC BY licensing for the AM – that have become totemic in many open access circles and offer a more lukewarm response. Those in the latter group may find some consolation in the knowledge that in Japan, caution does not necessarily indicate disapproval and is often regarded as a virtue, encapsulated in the phrase: ???????? (Ishibashi wo tataite wataru) “to tap on a stone bridge before crossing.” Cautious progress may initially be slower than those who rush headlong, but caution helps avoids missteps. And you’re still going across the bridge.”