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RIKEN (理研) is a large natural sciences research institute in Japan. Founded in 1917, it now has approximately 3000 scientists on seven campuses across Japan, the main one in Wako, just outside Tokyo. RIKEN is an Independent Administrative Institution whose formal name in Japanese is Rikagaku Kenkyūjo (理化学研究所) and in English is The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research.
RIKEN conducts research in many areas of science, including physics, chemistry, biology, medical science, engineering and computational science, and ranging from basic research to practical applications. It is almost entirely funded by the Japanese government, and its annual budget is approximately ¥88 billion (US$760 million).
In 1913 the well-known scientist Jokichi Takamine first proposed the establishment of a national science research institute in Japan. This task was taken on by Eiichi Shibusawa, a prominent businessman, and following a resolution by the Diet in 1915, RIKEN came into existence in March 1917. In its first incarnation, RIKEN was a private foundation (zaidan), funded by a combination of industry, the government, and the Imperial Household. It was located in the Komagome district of Tokyo, and its first Director was the mathematician Dairoku Kikuchi.
In 1927 Masatoshi Ōkōchi, the third Director, established the RIKEN Konzern (a zaibatsu). This was a group of spin-off companies that used RIKEN's scientific achievements for commercial ends and returned the profits to RIKEN. At its peak in 1939 the Konzern comprised about 121 factories and 63 companies, including Riken Kankōshi, which is now Ricoh.
During World War II the Japanese army's atomic bomb program was conducted at RIKEN. In April 1945 the US bombed RIKEN's laboratories in Komagome, and in November, after the end of the war, Allied soldiers destroyed its two cyclotrons.
After the war, the Allies dissolved RIKEN as a private foundation, and it was brought back to life as a company called Kagaku Kenkyūsho (科学研究所), or KAKEN (科研). In 1958 the Diet passed the RIKEN Law, whereby the institute returned to its original name and entered its third incarnation, as a public corporation (特殊法人 tokushu hōjin ), funded by the government. In 1963 it relocated to a large site in Wako, Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo.
Since the 1980s RIKEN has expanded dramatically. New labs, centers, and institutes have been established in Japan and overseas, including:
- in 1984, the Life Science Center in Tsukuba
- in 1995, the Muon Research Facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK
- in 1997, the Harima Institute, the Brain Science Institute in Wako, and the center at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the USA
- in 1998, the Genomic Sciences Center
- in 2000, the Yokohama Institute, which now contains four centers for research in the life sciences
- in 2002, the Kobe Institute, which contains the Center for Developmental Biology
In October 2003 RIKEN's status changed again, to Independent Administrative Institution. As such, RIKEN is still publicly funded, and it is periodically evaluated by the government, but it has a higher degree of autonomy than before.
RIKEN is regarded as the flagship research institute in Japan. It conducts basic and applied experimental research in a wide range of science and technology fields including physics, chemistry, medical science, biology and engineering.
Organizational structure 
The main divisions of RIKEN are listed here. Purely administrative divisions are omitted.
- Headquarters (mostly in Wako)
- Wako Branch
- Center for Emergent Matter Science (research on new materials for reduced power consumption)
- Center for Sustainable Resource Science (research toward a sustainable society)
- Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science (site of the RI Beam Factory, a heavy-ion accelerator complex)
- Brain Science Institute
- Center for Advanced Photonics (research on photonics including terahertz radiation)
- Research Cluster for Innovation
- Global Research Cluster
- Tsukuba Branch
- Harima Institute
- Yokohama Branch(site of the Yokohama Nuclear magnetic resonance facility)
- Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (research toward personalized medicine)
- Center for Life Science Technologies (also based in Kobe)
- Bioinformatics And Systems Engineering division
- Center of Research Network for Infectious Diseases
- Kobe Branch
Miscellaneous facts and recent achievements 
- Two RIKEN scientists have won the Nobel prize for physics: Hideki Yukawa in 1949 and Shinichiro Tomonaga in 1965.
- The SPring-8 (Super Photon Ring 8GeV) facility in Harima is the world's largest and most powerful third-generation synchrotron radiation facility.
- The RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center in Yokohama was one of the sixteen institutions that formed the International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium.
- In July 2004 a team at RIKEN created the first confirmed instance of element 113, which is now known as "Unutrium". On April 2, 2005 the same team successfully created it for the second time.
- On May 23, 2005, the eight-storey RI (radioisotope) Beam Factory Experiment Facility opened in Wako.
- The RIKEN Super Combined Cluster is one of the world's fastest supercomputers. In January 2006, RIKEN set up the Next-Generation Supercomputer R&D Center, with the purpose of designing and building the fastest supercomputer in the world, and in June 2006, it announced the completion of a one-petaflops computer system designed specially for molecular dynamics simulation. Currently a new system, the K computer is being installed at RIKEN and despite it being still not finished, it topped the LINPACK benchmark with the performance of 8.162 petaflops, or 8.162 quadrillion calculations per second, with a computing efficiency ratio of 93.0%, making it the fastest supercomputer in the world. The complete project enters service in November 2012.
- There are a small number of graduate students at RIKEN, but it does not award degrees itself.
The name "RIKEN" 
The full Japanese name of RIKEN is Rikagaku Kenkyūjo (理化学研究所), which literally means "The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research" (though it now also conducts research in biology and other fields). RIKEN (理研) is a Japanese abbreviation of this.
"The Institute of Physical and Chemical Research" was formerly used as an alternative English name, or a kind of subtitle, for RIKEN. But in 2003, when it became an Independent Administrative Institution, this name was officially discarded, and the English appellation is now just "RIKEN", in capital letters. The media sometimes refer to it as "Riken" or "the Riken institute".
"RIKEN" is pronounced as a single word: /ˈrɪkɛn/ (RI-ken). The full Japanese name, "Rikagaku Kenkyūjo", is sometimes pronounced "Rikagaku Kenkyūjo", this may be used less often but is not incorrect as it is merely an example of abbreviation.
List of presidents 
- Haruo Nagaoka (1958–1966)
- Shirō Akahori (1966–1970)
- Toshio Hoshino (1970-1975)
- Shinji Fukui (1975–1980)
- Tatsuoki Miyajima (1980–1988)
- Minoru Oda (1988–1993)
- Akito Arima (1993–1998)
- Shunichi Kobayashi (1998–2003)
- Ryōji Noyori (2003–present)
Notable scientists and other people from RIKEN 
- Dairoku Kikuchi, mathematician and the first Director of RIKEN
- Kikunae Ikeda, discoverer of monosodium glutamate and the umami flavor
- Hantaro Nagaoka, postulator of the Saturnian model of the atom
- Toshio Takamine, specialist in spectroscopy, author of The "Near Infra-Red Spectra of Helium and Mercury" and "Absorption of Ha Line" and "The structure of mercury lines examined by an echelon grating and a Lummer-Gehrcke plate"
- Kotaro Honda, inventor of KS steel
- Umetaro Suzuki, discoverer of vitamin B1
- Torahiko Terada, physicist and essayist
- Yoshio Nishina, leading atomic physicist who worked with Bohr, Einstein, Heisenberg and Dirac
- Ukichiro Nakaya, physicist and essayist
- Seishi Kikuchi, physicist, known for his explanation of the Kikuchi lines
- Shinichiro Tomonaga, winner of the 1965 Nobel physics prize for his work on quantum electrodynamics
- Hideki Yukawa, physicist who won the 1949 Nobel prize for his prediction of the pion
- Ryōji Noyori, current President, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2001
- Tadashi Watanabe, head of RIKEN's Next-Generation Supercomputer R&D Center
- Masatoshi Takeichi, discoverer of the cadherin family of cell-cell adhesion molecules and head of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology
- "Japanese ‘K’ Computer Is Ranked Most Powerful". The New York Times. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- "Japan Reclaims Top Ranking on Latest TOP500 List of World’s Supercomputers", top500.org, retrieved June 20, 2011
- "K computer, SPARC64 VIIIfx 2.0GHz, Tofu interconnect", top500.org, retrieved June 20, 2011
- "Supercomputer "K computer" Takes First Place in World". RIKEN. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
- RIKEN official website (in English and Japanese) – this official website is the source for all of the information in this article
- RIKEN Research (English and Japanese) – A resource for up-to-date information on key achievements of RIKEN researchers.
- Life at RIKEN (English) – An information resource for prospective RIKEN researchers from outside of Japan.
- Twitter feed (English)