In August of 2021, we came to know that China has overtaken the United States for the first time in the number of top 10% most cited scientific papers (in the period 2017-2019), while Japan has dropped to 10th. And now the updated period for the years 2018-2020 shows that Japan was unable to secure the 10th position. It is now in the 12th below Spain.
Twenty years ago Japan had more than 4000 papers in the group of the top 10% most cited, almost the same number as Germany. However, in the latest period, Japan has less than 4000 top cited papers and Germany has more than 7000. Even Italy has more than 6000 top cited papers. What is happening with Japan ?
Back in 2017 in a paper published in Nature the scientists Wagner and Jonkers found a clear correlation between a nation’s “scientific influence” (top cited papers) and the links it fosters with foreign researchers. That paper has a most interesting image that explains what is happening with the citations of Japan´s papers https://www.nature.com/articles/550032a
PS – The fact that France dropped from the 5th position 20 years ago to the current 9th position also helps to understand why this country “hates” citation-based metrics.
August 17 update – The journal Science prefers to focus on Chinese performance https://www.science.org/content/article/china-rises-first-place-most-cited-papers