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Asahi survey: Only 30% of universities have guidelines on military research

  • September 30, 2017
  • , Asahi , p. 27
  • JMH Translation

Asahi Shimbun conducted a questionnaire survey targeting a total of 116 national universities and major private universities in Japan on their views on military research, which showed that only about 30% of the universities have explicit guidelines or written positions on this matter. However, several universities responded that they were “considering” drawing up policies. The debate on this issue continues.


In the survey, 35 universities answered that they had rules for military research, while 64 universities, or 55%, said they did not have such regulations. Of these universities, 23, or 36%, indicated that they were “considering” drawing up guidelines, while 40, or 63%, said they were “not considering” any such rules.


When asked about their likely policy direction, none of the universities considering developing guidelines indicated that they were likely to allow military research, with 7 of them stating clearly that they would not allow such research and 14 indicating that they were undecided. Some universities said they were still watching other universities’ responses.


When the universities were queried about the Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency’s (ATLA) National Security Technology Research Promotion Fund, which provides funding for basic research that could be used for the development of defense technology, 13 of them, or about 10%, said there were staff members wishing to apply for this fund this fiscal year, and 4 of them – Gifu, Kagoshima, Tokai, and Toyo Universities – indicated that they would allow the application for funding. Overall, 85 universities, or 73%, answered there were no applications, while 18 universities did not answer this question.


To the question of whether they would allow application for ATLA funding, none of the universities would give unconditional permission, 6 universities would allow their staff to do so “on certain conditions,” while 37 universities would prohibit application. However, 47 universities, including the Kyushu Institute of Technology, the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and other institutions that are already receiving funding, provided “other answers.”


Of the universities surveyed, 80 universities, or 69%, said the final decision on application for research funding is made by the university; 34 universities entrust the decision to a “permanent internal body”; while the president makes the decision for 33 universities.


Even some universities whose policies prohibit all military research would allow application for ATLA funding “on certain conditions.” It appears that universities are divided in their approaches to this funding system.


As a matter of fact, when asked if this system would lead to research for military purposes, 26 universities answered “yes,” 5 universities answered “no,” and 57 said “neither.”


While the names of the four universities receiving ATLA funding this fiscal year have not been made public, the Toyohashi University of Technology, the Tokyo University of Science, and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, which participated in 2015 and 2016, refused to answer the questionnaire. Although Hokkaido University answered the questionnaire, it failed to fill out many fields.


*This survey was conducted in June and July targeting 86 national universities and the top 30 private universities receiving government subsidies (in FY15), for a total of 116 universities, with 99 universities, or 85%, providing responses. (Abridged)

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