Jiji, Staff report
The Science Council of Japan has officially adopted a policy against conducting research for military purposes.
A statement adopted by the council’s executive board on Friday said there are many problems with a Defense Ministry program that funds research into defense equipment and pointed to significant intervention by the government.
The statement, adopted after nearly a year of discussion by a 15-member committee set up by the council, upholds two statements adopted in 1950 and 1967 that state the group will “never engage in military research.”
The statements were based on the bitter lessons of World War II, which saw scientists contribute, directly or indirectly, to the ravages of war at home and abroad.
While the council’s statement carries no legal force, the group comprises about 840,000 members from all natural and social science fields and is highly influential in academia and the government. The statement will likely greatly affect decisions by universities and other institutions involved in arms research.
At its meeting Friday, some of the board’s members said the council’s General Assembly should decide whether to approve the statement at its meeting next month, calling the new document historically important. Others said the statement should just be adopted quickly by the board. In the end, the board agreed to report its adoption of the new statement to the General Assembly.
There are concerns the funding program might intensify government intervention in research, the statement said.
The council called on institutions to set up systems to screen the technological and ethical aspects of research projects to determine if they could be regarded as military research.