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Japan Science Council panel draft statement upholds rejection of military research

A panel of the Science Council of Japan has proposed upholding the organization's postwar rejection of military research in a new statement following a review of past statements on the issue -- the first such review in some 50 years.

The council's exploratory committee on national security and science drafted the new declaration titled, "A draft statement on security studies for military purposes," which states the council will "succeed" the past two statements rejecting research for military purposes.

The proposal will be put to debate at the panel's final meeting on March 7, where it may be modified. If a consensus is reached, the statement will be adopted at a full council general meeting in April. Although the statement will not be binding, it is expected to affect research policies among member universities and institutions.

The draft declaration also expresses concerns over the Ministry of Defense's system to provide funds for cutting-edge research that could be applicable to defense equipment, saying that the system represents "a significant government intervention in research." The draft statement calls on universities to introduce a framework to screen the adequacy of research at their institutions.

After the end of World War II, the Science Council of Japan twice issued statements on military research; one in 1950 rejecting research for "war purposes," and another in 1967 rejecting research for "military purposes." The statements stemmed from soul-searching in the Japanese scientific community over its complicity in Japan's war effort.

The proposed statement avoids using the term "military research" in favor of "security studies for military purposes," pointing out that such studies "are in tension with the sound development of science."

However, the proposed statement does not specify the pros and cons of military research, nor does it specifically address applications to the Defense Ministry's research funding system, leaving room for broad interpretation.

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