Okinawa’s higher education institutions do not apply for MOD national security research funds

September 24, 2015 Tomoki Yasutomi of Ryukyu Shimpo

The Ministry of Defense has announced its intention to grant research funds (with an annual maximum of 30,000,000 yen) as part of a system toward investigating the practicality of applying military technology to counter small drone and cyber attacks. In response, the Ryukyu Shimpo conducted a survey of 11 higher education institutions within Okinawa Prefecture. All 10 of the institutions that answered the survey expressed the opinion that the proposed system should not be employed. Furthermore, 9 of these institutions state that in the case of a request for cooperation with national security or military affairs research, they will refuse. The reason they give for their response is “we have absolutely no intention of conducting research related to military affairs,” and similar dissenting words.

The University of the Ryukyus says that it is “reviewing [use of this system] on a case-by-case basis.” Okinawa National College of Technology did not answer the survey with the explanation that “we will not consider employing this system.”

The Ministry of Defense’s announcement refers to the National Security Technology Research Implementation System. This year the funds were advertised from July 8 until August 12 at research institutions covering 28 fields of study. Higher education institutions in Okinawa do not research subjects eligible for funding by this system, and did not apply to it. The institutions that responded to the Ryukyu Shimpo survey were the University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa Prefectural College of Nursing, Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts, Meio University, Okinawa International University, Okinawa University, Okinawa Christian University, Okinawa Christian Junior College, Okinawa Women’s Junior College, and Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST).

In regards to whether the institutions are considering adopting the research implementation system, all 10 responding institutions selected “no” as their answer. When asked if they would cooperate with a system bearing national security or military affairs objectives, or related research, 9 of the institutions answered “no”. The University of the Ryukyus, however, selected “other,” adding the explanation that “even though this university’s educational research and learning are driven by each student’s chosen direction, the projects should contribute to welfare and peace for mankind, so we will not act in any way to obstruct these goals.” Therefore, it says it is “reviewing [use of this system] on a case-by-case basis.”

In regard to cooperating with the new research system, OIST says, “we have absolutely no intention of conducting research related to military affairs or national security technology.” Okinawa International University answers that, “universities are educational institutions and should not be expected to conduct military research.”

Supporting the statement, “we will absolutely not conduct scientific research with the objective of war,” made by the Science Council of Japan in 1967, Okinawa Christian University and Junior College jointly declared, “we should advance peaceful and friendly relations with foreign countries through education and research.”

(English tanslation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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