The private institution has allowed its researchers to be part of the Ministry of Defense Program which provides technological studies in peaceful and military context: "This could be used against humanity without the approval of the scientists."
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Kansai University, a private institution based in Osaka Prefecture, has forbidden the members of its staff to participate in the program of the Ministry of Defense for the "technological development of national security". The university president has justified the decision by saying that "the research can be used against peace, without scientists even knowing about it".
In 2015, the Japanese Ministry of Defense launched a project financing the military and peaceful use of the technology. It involves the use of university researchers, state and private institutions, which can receive up to $ 262K per year for three-year projects. Until now there were 19 applications for the fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
The rejection of Kansai University arrived on December 7 last. The institution's president said that "It is the responsibility of scholars to know where their research can lead to” and that under Kansai University’s existing ethical standards, its academics “may not engage in research practices that violate people’s dignity or basic human rights, as well as peace and the welfare of humankind.”
Toshihide Maskawa, a Nobel laureate in Physics who specializes in elementary particle theory, said: “I have feelings of fear that the distance between the realms of academia and the military is gradually closing. I hope this (Kansai University’s declaration) will be an example for other institutions to follow.”
In October 2015, the national Niigata University also reviewed parts of the code of conduct for its scientists. The university formally spelled out that they are “not to conduct research for purposes that contribute to the realm of the military.”
Hiroshima University also has decided not to allow its staff members to apply for the ministry program.
The dispute between the government and academic institutions is part of the debate on the revision of the Constitution wanted by Shinzo Abe Prime Minister and approved by the government last year. Since the end of World War II, the Japanese military has been limited by the Constitution - pacifist and written under the American protectorate – which clearly stated in art. 9 the "non-aggression" of its armed forces. Tokyo now wants to adopt an aggressive army, but the decision is opposed by a large part of civil society.