The Science Council of Japan, a special body belonging to the Cabinet Office which represents scientists of the country, has begun to reexamine its Code of Conducts for Scientists maintained for several decades. The principle ? rejection of military-purpose researches ? a consequence of reviewing experiences of scientists’ cooperation with WWII, will be changed. Will scientists choose again a path of war collaboration?
WILL SCIENTIST PREFER PATH OF SUPPORTING WAR ONCE AGAIN?
The Science Council of Japan adopted a statement that ‘it will never commit in scientific studies for a purpose of a war’ in the general assembly held in 1950. Later, when a fact was disclosed that the Physical Society of Japan had been subsidized by the US military for its international conferences, the Council again issued a statement to confirm that ‘the Council is determined not to commit absolutely in scientific researches for military objectives’ in the general assembly in 1967.
Policy of Abe Government
Now, the Abe government; it made cabinet decisions in 2013 on the national security strategy and on the defense guidelines in a context to transform the country to a nation that should be ready for a war. The government announced a policy to encourage ‘dual use of technologies that may serve both national security and civil purposes’, cooperating with universities and research institutes. In 2014 another cabinet decisions were made to repeal the Three Rules on Arms Export to be replaced with the Three Rules of Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology in order to lay military industries in the center of the economic policy called Abenomics. Meanwhile, the Japan Business Federation had presented the Proposal to Implement Policies on Defense Industries to ‘bolster collaboration with universities’ on September 15 last year just before the Diet passed the controversial war legislation with the majority force.
Under these circumstances, the Ministry of Defense launched in the Fiscal 2015 the Initiative to Encourage Research on Technologies for National Security. The ministry finances in the advanced studies that may be applied to defense equipment. A 300-million-budget was compiled in the last fiscal to subsidize universities and institutes and 600 million Yen is allocated in the current fiscal.
Under these circumstances the Science Council of Japan (headed by Onishi Takashi) set up a panel last May 20, Committee to Examine Implications of National Security and Scientific Studies. It will finalize views before the year-end on five categories, which are (1) changes of conditions taken place after the two statements of 1950 and 1967, (2) differences between the military use and civil use and the dual use, (3) impacts of researches concerning national security on openness and transparency of science, (4) impacts on science of introduction of the financial programs for national security studies and (5) who, individual researchers or institutes/universities, will decide on whether a certain investigation is appropriate or not?
Behind the current scene lies the plight of academic world. Due to policies to cut public R&D budgets for higher-education and research institutes, scientists are obliged to engage in the military studies. Since 2004 when national universities were half-privatized to be independent administrative units, the grant has reduced by about 150 billion Yen. It is crucial for both public and private colleges to meet expenses for research.
Pursuing academic goals
Research associate Kato Ryo of Toyohashi University of Technology, from which the current head of the Science Council of Japan comes, gained 4.75 million Yen from the Ministry of Defense last year through the ministry’s fund program. The researcher develops ‘a sheet to absorb and stick poisonous gas using nanofiber’. The Ministry has approved his project on the ground that it will help produce lighter-weight gas masks. Research associate Kato told with sigh that ‘I would not have applied for the financial support if I had had another option’ (dated May 23, the Mainichi Newspaper).
Researchers who feel uneasy about the current developments around the Science Council have established an ‘association for collecting signatures to oppose collaboration of the scholarly with the military’. Another organization called, an ‘association to verify ethics for medical science and a war’, held a press meeting June 8. Campaigns have started to prevent sciences from returning to the pre-war period. It is a historic era when conscience of scientists is covered with dark clouds of a war.
June 21, 2016