“ACADEMICS’ DIET” EMPLOYS ANTI-JAPANESE DOUBLE STANDARD
It is about time that the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), which claims to be the “academics’ Diet,” stops insisting that Japan not become a normal nation. That is my candid view in light of the logical inconsistency and double-standard demonstrated by this elitist council.
Since the end of the last war, Japanese scholars and researchers have “absolutely refused” to engage in military research. In its founding resolution of 1950, the council pledged to never allow such research because of remorse that Japanese scientists had been coerced into cooperating with Japan’s war efforts. This resolution directly reflected the policy of the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the US Army, which occupied Japan 1945-52.
In 1953, the council’s first president, Naoto Kameyama, sent a letter to then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, noting that GHQ showed an “extraordinary interest” in founding the SCJ. GHQ clearly intended to have it play the role of cutting virtually all of Japan’s military muscle so it would never again rise against America. This led to the afore-mentioned pledge by the SCJ.
Think tanks are fundamentally an overseas equivalent of the SCJ. They take different forms from country to country, but those in America function as private organizations that are financially independent from Washington. But GHQ set up the SCJ as a government-financed organization—just the opposite of its American counterparts.
The SCJ Act stipulates a framework designed to protect it. It comes under the direct jurisdiction of the prime minister, with its expenses covered by tax moneys and its position established as an “independent academic body.”
Entitled to a comfortable position independent from the government, the SCJ has over the years issued three statements forever rejecting military research. The first statement, issued in 1950 as earlier mentioned, was a “resolution to never engage in any scientific research for the purpose of war.” The second one (1967) “absolutely” refused “all scientific research for the purpose of war.” The council issued its third communique in 2017, reinforcing its two previous pledges. Declaring that its members would “absolutely never engage hereafter” in any scientific research for the purpose of war, it cited the following incidence.
SCJ Has Badly Let Down Japanese Government
“Under the ‘Security Technology Research Scheme’ of the Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (of the Defense Ministry) formulated in 2015, public applications for research projects and their scrutiny are being conducted along with the clear purpose of benefiting future development of equipment.” But an “intervention by the government is conspicuous, which has led to many problems.”
Over the years, the government has been badly let down by the SCJ over an effective implementation of this scheme. Former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who has dealt with the council over this matter, had this to say on my “Genron” regular weekly Internet television news show last Friday (October 9):
“When I first assumed the post of defense minister, I told the council that I wanted to take an ‘all Japan’ approach to the projected development of new military technology, including next-generation fighter planes, instead of continuing to rely on foreign technology, and proposed that government-backed research be conducted jointly at universities and laboratories across Japan. But the universities were adamant about fundamentally not permitting any such research. Not only that. Japanese universities would not admit National Defense Academy graduates into their graduate schools—simply because they were the personnel of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF).
What did not make sense was that these universities had no qualms about admitting Chinese students with PLA (the People’s Liberation Army of China) service records, vigorously taught them everything they wanted to learn from Japan, and permitted them to disseminate back to China what they learned. And yet, they kept rejecting the researchers who were students or graduates of the Academy committed to the defense of Japan. An impenetrable wall stood against us. It was simply absurd.”
So Onodera and his staff devised a way to lower the barriers between academia and his ministry, securing a budget for a publicly offered research fund designed to enable technological innovation for Japan’s national security with plans to encourage specialists at universities and laboratories to apply. Commented Onodera:
“Researchers from Hokkaido University applied early and were doing a good job. But the SCJ intervened, insisting that anything that would lead to military research could not be permitted. The SCJ is an organization powerful in its own way. Under its pressure, a succession of university professors who had sought research funds withdrew their applications. What we couldn’t accept was this: while the SCJ banned research commissioned by our ministry, scholars and researchers who received research funding from the US military got away scot-free. In point of fact, several major universities—such as Osaka, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tohoku, and Kyoto—got funding from the US military and produced results. But the SCJ made no fuss about it.”
How does the SCJ explain its approval of research commissioned by the US military as appropriate while refusing to approve research commissioned by the Defense Ministry? Should Japanese universities be allowed to function in such a manner? Obviously, the SCJ is in charge of this situation, which prompted Onodera to declare:
“I honestly wonder if the SCJ deserves ‘Japan’ in its title.”
Short of taking part in research projects commissioned by the PLA, quite a number of Japanese scholars and researchers are cooperating with science universities and research institutes in Chinese-funded research projects, including the “Thousand Talents Plan.” The SCJ has issued opinions which make one wonder if it values Chinese national interests over Japan’s.
Chinese Hunger for Leadership in Cutting-Edge Industry
One such case concerns the ongoing international Linear Collision (ILC) project.
The study of particle physics today is said to center deep underground in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which spans 27 kilometers (17 miles) across the Swiss-French border near Geneva. Pure scientific research is being conducted there that is expected to lead to a new understanding of the origin of the universe, among other things. A host of cutting-edge technologies, including research on superconductivity and elementary particles, is being developed there. Whoever masters these technologies will be able to dominate the related industries. China, not surprisingly, has a high degree of interest in these fields of study. If it is able to realize its objectives in these fields, it will be able to realize its “Chinese dream” and “tower over the rest of the people of the world.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which plots to dominate the world under a one-party dictatorship, is the only entity capable of lavishing funds on this “big science” project by itself. Meanwhile, nations in the Western block cannot go it alone, and so must cooperate with each other closely. Japan is currently contemplating joint construction of an ILC with some European nations and the United States.
Massive scientific projects undertaken across the globe can significantly affect multilateral relations. If left behind, a nation will be forced to be subordinate to others, likely being subjugated economically and in security. The US, for example, is now putting its national interests at stake in embarking on an ambitious space development project because it does not want China to dominate outer space.
China is already considering constructing a second generation ILC two orders of magnitude larger in scale, while the construction of the ILC Japan is trying to attract will determine whether or not Japan can manage to stand firm as a first-rate global scientific power. But here again the SCJ stands in the government’s way, asserting that, as a body representing Japanese scientists, it can hardly support any such project that requires 30 long years and huge sums of money. I seriously question if the SCJ really is an organization that duly represents 870,000 Japanese scientists.
Observed Tadashi Narabayashi, emeritus professor at Hokkaido University and a prominent reactor engineering specialist:
“The SCJ is made up of 210 scientists recommended by academic societies, including social sciences and humanities, who in recent years have selected the next members strictly on their own before their six-year terms ended. The council has weak ties with major research institutions overseas, lacks the organizational power needed to lead international projects, and has not actively engaged in activities aimed at disseminating the results of its members’ studies to the business community. At best, it has assumed a commentator’s position in the execution of the government’s scientific agenda.”
It makes absolutely no sense to allow the fate of Japan’s ILC—a large, crucial project that will seriously influence our country’s future—to be decided by the SCJ.
(Translated from Renaissance Japan column no. 922 in the October 22, 2020 issue of The Weekly Shincho)