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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 13 - 19  > Astronomy community issues statement resolving to refrain from engaging in military-related research
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2019 March 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Astronomy community issues statement resolving to refrain from engaging in military-related research

March 18, 2019

The Astronomical Society of Japan on March 16 published a statement stating that the society will not engage in research projects and activities that could lead to posing threats to the peace and security of human beings.

The ASJ drew up the statement in response to the Abe government seeking to foster military-academia collaboration. The Defense Ministry in 2015 started a subsidy program for the promotion of R&D of security-related technologies. The program attracted a number of applicants such as engineering researchers. The Science Council of Japan, which represents the entire scientific community in Japan, in March 2017 issued a statement reaffirming “its commitment to never become engaged in scientific research for war purposes”. At the same time, the SCJ encouraged academic societies to hold discussions on this issue.

Cutting-edge astronomical technologies, such as satellite and telescope technologies, can be used also for military purposes. The astronomers’ community listened to members’ opinions on the issue by holding discussion sessions in annual general meetings, carrying featured articles in its bulletin, and giving questionnaires to members. The statement was finalized on March 15.

The ASJ surveys regarding the Defense Ministry’s subsidy program found that opponents of the program outnumbered supporters by a small margin. However, among members in their 20s and 30s, the majority supported, showing that the result is not clear-cut.

Kyoto University Professor Shibata Kazunari, who heads the society, on March 16 held a press conference to release the statement. He said, “Our members are sometimes reluctant to discuss political issues, but this time, members actively engaged in discussions. I am encouraged by that.”

The Astronomical Society of Japan was founded in 1908. It has a membership of 3,200, including researchers in universities and research institutions as well as amateur astronomers.

Past related articles:
> SCJ adopts statement reaffirming 50-year-old military research ban [March 25, 2017]
> Military-academia cooperation under Abe government is researcher-version of economic conscription [December 4, 2016]
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