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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 September 30 - October 6  > Scientists in Japan resolved to never again engage in research for war purposes
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2020 September 30 - October 6 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Scientists in Japan resolved to never again engage in research for war purposes

October 3, 2020

Akahata 'current' column

It is said that a rumor, "We soon will create a new bomb capable of blowing up a big city in an instant," spread among the Japanese public during the war as the war situation worsened.

Under pressure and coercion by the wartime military giving privileges to scientists to focus on research and achieve results, they were forced into the development of more powerful weapons. The dilemma of those who had helped to develop an atomic bomb in Japan was depicted in a famous drama "Taiyo no Ko".

Arts, culture, and science were all mobilized and used "for the sake of the country". It was a dark period in Japan's history. Based on the deep remorse over the scientist community's past conduct, the Science Council of Japan was established in 1949 as an autonomous and democratic organization independent from political power.

Its 1950 statement pledges, "We, as builders of a cultured nation and as messengers of world peace, aspire to never again be visited with the horrors of war, and in order to be faithful to our principles as scientists, we will never again allow scientific studies to be used for war purposes." The SCJ's founding commitment became a cornerstone of its decision made in 2017 to reject "military-academia cooperation " promoted by the former Abe government.

Recently, state power blatantly intervened in personnel matters pertaining to academics recommended by the Science Council of Japan. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide unprecedentedly rejected six professors nominated by the SCJ for membership. All six were opposed to a government attempt to turn Japan into a country that can wage war with the implementation of the national security legislation and the anti-conspiracy law.

Academic freedom is indispensable for the sound development of society. A professor whose nomination was turned down without clear reasons gave a warning, "To allow the government intervene in academia will leave the source of a major problem for the future of Japan." The bitter prewar and wartime history underlines the importance of his warning.
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