Science Council of Japan says it’s hard to draw a line between tech for military and civilian use

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The Science Council of Japan is seen in the Minato district of Tokyo. (Mainichi/Ayumu Iwasaki)

TOKYO – The Science Council of Japan (SCJ) has drafted a statement saying that it has become difficult to simply separate dual-use technologies that can be applied to both military and civilian use from other technologies, and submitted the document. to Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Takayuki Kobayashi.

The statement apparently represents the SCJ’s view that amid the growing importance of science and technology related to national security, such as artificial intelligence and quantum technology, it is difficult to impose general restrictions on research by discerning the possibility of a technology being diverted to military applications. use.

In 2017, the SCJ released a statement regarding the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency’s grant program for dual-use technology research, noting that the “funding program has many problems” because it could facilitate government intervention in research activities. However, the council suggested that a system of selection of this research be put in place in universities and other bodies without prohibiting it. In 1950 and 1967, the SCJ issued statements rejecting scientific research for “war purposes”.

According to the SCJ, it has not changed its position on its past statements, including the 2017 manifesto. However, in recent years, the potential for application of even basic research for military purposes, among others, has increased. At a regular press conference on July 27, SCJ President Takaaki Kajita explained, “We have evolved our line of thinking in step with the times.”

Amid growing tensions between the United States and China, researchers in the field are required to work to prevent important technologies from leaking overseas in light of national security. As for dual-use technologies, the Japanese government is expected to begin publicly soliciting applicants this fiscal year for a program to foster technologies crucial to economic security, with a total of around 500 billion yen ( approximately $3.7 billion) that should be funded. by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It is possible that the research achievements under the program will therefore contribute to the development of defense equipment.

In light of this decision, the science council was sorting out its views on advanced science technologies, including dual-use technologies.

(Japanese original by Tomohiro Ikeda, Department of Science and Environment)

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