Science Council of Japan panel upholds rejection of military research, aka “security studies for military purposes”

March 14, 2017

Though Japanese universities have faced a series of funding cuts from the government, a panel of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) has proposed to uphold the organization’s postwar rejection of military research. (Update: proposal passed:

It was recently revealed that at least 128 Japanese university researchers had accepted funding from the United States military, apparently to the tune of more than 800 million yen in the six years from the 2010 academic year.

In a new statement following a review of past statements on the issue, the council’s exploratory committee on national security and science drafted the new declaration titled, “A draft statement on security studies for military purposes”, which states the council will “succeed” the past two statements rejecting research for military purposes from the Ministry of Defense and agencies tied to the U.S. military.

The proposal will be put to debate at the panel’s final meeting on March 7, where it may be modified. If a consensus is reached, the statement will be adopted at a full council general meeting in April. Although the statement will not be binding, it is expected to affect research policies among member universities and institutions. (Update: proposal passed:

The SCJ began to deliberate on the Defense Ministry aid program and took a cautious attitude to military research in a midterm report released in February. A minority held that there was no problem with such research if it was for defense purposes only, but it was felt that it is very difficult to draw a clear line between defensive and offensive weapons technology. That being the case, the scientific community should aim to build a consensus not to accept research support from military-related organizations.

After the end of World War II, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), established in 1949 and now comprising over 2,000 scientists in fields from engineering to the humanities to the natural sciences, made the decisions to ban military research, twice issuing statements on military research; one in 1950 rejecting research for “war purposes,” and another in 1967 rejecting research for “military purposes.”

These promises made by Japanese scientists are consistent with the Constitution of Japan, Article 9 of which renounces war as a sovereign right of the nation and the maintenance of military forces that could be used for war.

Recently however, these principles have been challenged by the “proactive peace” policy of the Abe administration, which has now permitted the export of arms and related technologies. The Japanese government and some industries have promoted military-academia joint research for the production of dual-use technologies, such as lasers.

Scientists are concerned that military research violates academic freedom because the achievements of military-funded research ( read more here) will not be open to the public without the permission of the military, which threatens the foundation of science. JPC wants the government to boost basic research subsidies, rather than pouring vast sums into military R&D.

The Japan Coalition Against Military Research in Academia, established on September 30th, 2016, acts as a liaison committee for movements against military research, peace movements, university unions and citizens. Co-chief organizers are:

Satoru Ikeuchi, Professor Emeritus of Astrophysics, Nagoya University Ryuzaburo Noda, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, Okayama University Katsuo Nishiyama, Professor Emeritus of Social Medicine, Shiga University of Medical Science

Its website explains: “We are responsible for not repeating the bitter experience of participating in war through military research. Such research is inconsistent with the principles of higher education and the development of science and technology for a better future. We are concerned that military research will distort the sound development of science and technology and cause men, women and children alike to lose their trust and faith in science. We sincerely appeal to all scientists, workers in universities and research institutes, undergraduate and graduate students and citizens to join us. Let’s unite scientists and citizens together for peace!”





Sadly, Japan ‘inches a fraction closer towards becoming a “normal” nation’

July 3, 2014


Following Japan’s formation of a national security council, enactment of a ‘secrecy bill’ and weakening of limits on arms exports, under a resolution adopted by the cabinet on Tuesday, Japan has “reinterpreted” its pacifist constitution. Article 9 of the constitution, adopted in 1947, states that “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes”.

defence budgets us and japanThe Japanese are still “very attached to the principle of pacifism in the postwar regime”, says Jiro Yamaguchi, a professor of political science at Hosei University, who is among a group of more than 500 scholars opposed to the move. “It is reckless that [Mr Abe] rushed to decide on this very important issue without thorough discussions,” adds Shigeaki Matsuda, a 66 year-old exhibition curator who joined the protest on Tuesday. “There is no democracy here.”

The most recent version of the draft says that Japan would exercise the right to collective self-defence only when “clear dangers” exist to the lives of people in countries “with close ties” to Japan, according to the most recent publicly available draft. Military intervention should be “limited to the minimum amount necessary”, it added.

It goes on to say that Japan will “ensure that its history as a pacifist state will continue” . . .

Pilling notes that the US has tried to persuade Japan to ‘ditch’ pacifism almost from the moment the constitution was enacted: “After war broke out on the Korean peninsula, the US decided it did not want a toothless ally. . . US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has endorsed Japan’s new stance, welcoming the efforts by the most important US ally in the region to “play a more proactive role” in stability in East Asia.”

Supporters of the current constitution demonstrated outside the Japanese prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Monday evening. Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Supporters of the current constitution demonstrated outside the Japanese prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Monday evening. Photograph: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

However, since the prime minister started public briefings on the move last month, his cabinet’s approval rating has dropped to 45%, the lowest rating since it was formed in December 2012.

On Tuesday, anti-war demonstrators gathered outside the prime minister’s residence in Tokyo for a second successive evening of protests – and three thousand gathered in a Tokyo park (below).

japan art 9 protest park 2

A poll published by the Nikkei business newspaper on Monday 30th found that 50% of voters were against Abe’s ‘reinterpretation’ of the pacifist constitution, while 34% supported the change. Channel News (Asia) reports that the liberal Asahi Shimbun, on the other hand, held a poll of more than 2,000 adults nationwide showing that 63% oppose the concept of collective defence, up from 56% last year, with 29% supporting the idea.

japan art 9 immolation

The results were released a day after an unidentified man set himself alight in central Tokyo and remains in a serious condition in hospital. After shouting opposition to Abe’s proposals through a megaphone in front of hundreds of people for about an hour, while perched on a girder above a footbridge outside Shinjuku Station, he poured flammable liquid on himself and lit it – videoed by many onlookers and circulated widely in social media.

Pilling comments:

“Mr Abe appears to suggest Japan could help smaller countries, such as the Philippines, to protect their territorial interests against China. That may be comforting to Manila and Hanoi but could be incendiary to Beijing. It is hard to deny Japan’s right to a more normal defence posture. That does not mean we have to celebrate it”.

Makiko Matsuda, a 67-year-old housewife, comments: “Abe keeps saying that he is doing this to protect Japanese people in a critical situation. But soldiers might die, which is contradictory. I don’t see how this can create a more peaceful solution”.

Sources pilling