A publicly funded Japanese research institute is once again in the spotlight after it has been learned that a big part of its budget was used to fund expensive furniture in its office. Riken Institute, under the leadership of Nobel chemistry laureate Ryoji Noyori, apparently spent ¥10 million on designer furniture from Cassina IXC in 2011 for its new building.
In the latest issue of Shukan Bunshun magazine, a former researcher from the institute admitted that the shopping spree is part of Riken’s efforts to use up its budget before the end of the fiscal year. The researcher who was not identified said, “When I was at the institute, it was having a tough time spending its budget within a fiscal year, so it would frequently do interior renovations.” An official from Riken justified the purchases, saying it is needed for a facility that accepts “guests from overseas.”
However, the expensive furniture has been used for the institute’s newly-completed facility for stem cell research and development in the city of Kobe. A Riken researcher has been under fire recently for falsification of data in its stem cell research. Haruko Obokata’s research on creating stem cells from an adult cell in the simplest method possible was accused of using faulty data after other scientists were unable to replicate the same results following her method. She and the study are currently under investigation by the institute, but news like this will not help Riken, whose reputation is now under question after the stem cell controversy.
[via The Star]