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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 3 - 9  > National Institutes of Natural Sciences decides to refuse government subsidies for military research
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2020 June 3 - 9 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

National Institutes of Natural Sciences decides to refuse government subsidies for military research

June 9, 2020

The National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) has decided to not allow its researchers to apply for the Defense Ministry’s subsidy program for military-academia cooperation, Akahata reported on June 9.

The NINS consists of five institutes and four research centers, including the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and the National Institute for Fusion Science.

According to the Akahata report, the heads and directors of all NINS member organizations on April 23 at their meeting decided to keep research teams of the NINS away from the Defense Ministry subsidy program aiming to fund research projects which would contribute to the development of national security technologies.

The subsidy program in question has been controversial since its launch in 2015. The Science Council of Japan in its statement expressed concern by stating that there always are tensions between sound development of science and research and the use of science research for military security. The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan in 2016 made a resolution that it will not permit its researchers to apply for the controversial subsidy program. However, the observatory executives, including Director General Tsuneta Saku, indicated that they will consider lifting the restrictions by discarding the 2016 resolution. This attracted criticism from the staff union and parties concerned.

Commenting on the NINS’s decision, Nagoya University Professor Emeritus Ikeuchi Satoru, who co-heads the liaison council opposing military-academia cooperation, said, “It was a sensible and important decision for the organization which plays a central role in Japan’s basic scientific research.”

At the same time, Ikeuchi cited the fact that Tsukuba University last year applied for and won Defense Ministry subsidies. He suggested that some researchers have no choice but to turn to financial support from the Defense Ministry as the government keeps cutting down on spending for scientific research. Ikeuchi said that this is a serious problem that Japan’s science community should face up to and address.

Past related articles:
> Pacifist researchers at Tsukuba University urge the university to not accept defense subsidy [February 19, 2020]
> SCJ adopts statement reaffirming 50-year-old military research ban [March 25, 2017]

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