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Japanese science community rocked by research funding offered by Defense Ministry

  • February 8, 2017
  • , TBS
  • JMH Summary

TBS’s “News 23” reported that Japanese university scholars, especially physicists, chemists, and engineers, are sharply divided over the Defense Ministry’s generous R&D funding program for defense technology. This fiscal year’s budget for the program was 11 billion yen, or about $100 million, as opposed to only $5.6 million in FY2016. According to the report, opponents of the program insist that scientists must not accept MOD money aimed at developing next-generation defense equipment, arguing that the postwar academic code of not conducting research connected to national security must be honored so as to remind foreign scholars that Japanese scientists are committed to preserving Japan’s identity as a peace-oriented country. On the other hand, some university scholars are in desperate need of funding given that annual research funding for three out of five Japanese scholars is below 500,000 yen, or about $4,500. They also believe that it is becoming increasingly difficult and meaningless to separate civilian technology from military expertise. Although the proponents point out that the results of their research financed by the Defense Ministry will be published so as to prove that that their studies were not influenced by the ministry, the opponents argue that the ministry apparently reserves the right to obtain from the recipients prior consent for making the research results public. TBS found fault with the central government for reducing research funds through the Education Ministry substantially for many years so as to prompt “cash strapped” scientists to look to the Defense Ministry for financing.   

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