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U.S. Air Force extended some 800 million yen in funds to 128 researchers in Japan

The U.S. Department of Defense (Mainichi)

The United States Air Force provided funds totaling at least 800 million yen to a total of 128 university researchers and others in Japan over six years from fiscal 2010, a Mainichi Shimbun investigation has found.

Furthermore, 11 professors from Kyoto University and Osaka University and others had received a combined total of about 200 million yen as research funds from the U.S. Air Force and Navy from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2016, the Mainichi learned through filing freedom-of-information requests with the universities.

Receiving funds from the U.S. military constitutes no legal problem. But in 1967, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), an organization representing scientists, issued a statement banning military research after revelations that some researchers and academic societies had received funds from the U.S. military. Those professors and others who are found to have received funds from the U.S. military have explained that their research was conducted for peaceful purposes and that it was not military research. But there is a possibility of the U.S. military using their research results for military purposes.

According to documents the U.S. Air Force released to the Mainichi, the force provided about 750 million yen as research funds to a total of 128 researchers in Japan between fiscal 2010 and 2015 (U.S. accounting year). In addition, the U.S. Air Force extended a total of at least 50 million yen in financial aid in a total of 125 instances to cover expenses for international conferences and researchers' trips to the United States. The U.S. military did not disclose the names of the researchers and universities as well as the nature of individual research. A U.S. Air Force spokesperson said the force had provided the funds in order to obtain precious knowledge that could not be secured by the U.S. alone.

Meanwhile, the 11 researchers who were found to have received funds include one male professor at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Informatics, one male professor at Osaka University's Graduate School of Engineering, as well as nine researchers (including those who have since moved to other universities) at these universities. They received about 1.5 million to 45 million yen each after filling applications through the U.S. Air Force's Asian Office of Aerospace Research and Development (AOARD) and the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR).

The fields of research conducted by the professors and other researchers included artificial intelligence (AI) and laser technology. In its technological strategy released in 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense said it would attach importance to autonomous systems that would lead to unmanned weapons equipped with AI. The laser technology on which the Japanese researchers conducted research overlaps with the fields to which the U.S. military attaches importance as technology for weapons of the future as it leads to the development of new weapons to replace bombshells and missiles, among other uses.

Both Kyoto University and Osaka University said that they had approved of their receipts of the funds from the U.S. military after going through proper internal procedures.

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