03/10/2017, 13.34
JAPAN
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Japanese scientists against military-oriented research in universities

In recent months the government has boosted funding for military research. Academics reiterate the traditional ban of post-war Japan. The committee rejects greater government influence in academic institutions. Their position is to defend academic freedom.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – A Science Council of Japan (SCJ) committee has called on Japan’s academic world to maintain the ban on military research by universities and other institutes.

The statement will be the SCJ’s first in 50 years regarding its position on military research. The previous two, issued in 1950 and 1967, unequivocally banned research for military purposes.

The proposal, hammered out on Tuesday aafter a series of meetings, will likely be adopted as the council’s official statement after a vote in a general assembly session in April.

The stance is based on remorse over such studies under Japan’s wartime government

In his three government mandates, current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to change Japan's pacifist constitution and in recent months he has ordered an increase in funding for military research.

The SCJ expects a more detailed debate on the pros and cons of military studies conducted by universities and research institutes.

One of the aspects stressed by the statement is the concept of 'academic freedom'.

The committee raises questions about participation in government military research, warning that such studies could give the authorities more influence on academic institutions.

Finally, the committee calls on universities and institutes to be cautious about research programmes, urging them to conduct ethical reviews and establish policy guidelines in the matter.

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