15 June 2017

News Story: Agency mulls expanding Japan's subsidized defense tech research overseas

The Defense Ministry's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) is considering allowing bodies headed by foreign nationals to apply for state subsidies for defense technology research to tap cutting-edge technologies from abroad, it has been learned.

Currently, the nationality of the head researcher of a team applying for funding as "contract research fees" under the agency's defense technology research promotion system must be Japanese, but the new plan would open the door to companies, universities and other research institutions outside Japan.

The system, introduced in fiscal 2015, is aimed at commissioning universities and companies to conduct advanced basic research that is applicable to defense equipment. Because of this, the agency has been accused of promoting "military research." The agency's latest move may therefore spark a backlash. In March this year, the Science Council of Japan released a statement, denouncing the system as "fraught with problems from the perspective of sound development of science."

The agency believes it is necessary to widely solicit advanced research from around the world in order to maintain and improve technological superiority in national security. The agency views the U.S. military's system to provide research funds to overseas researchers as an example, and has even mulled expanding its current system to provide a joint funding system along with the United States and other allies.

Read the full story at The Mainichi