Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Takashi Arimoto

【#726】Science Council of Japan Is Symbol of Postwar Regime

Takashi Arimoto / 2020.10.14 (Wed)

October 12, 2020


What the Science Council of Japan should be has been put into question since Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga refused to appoint six of 105 recommended SCJ member candidates. We must acknowledge that the SCJ represents a symbol of the postwar regime designed to confine Japan and its systems into a framework for a defeated country.

The SCJ was founded in 1949 when Japan was still under occupation by the General Headquarters of the Allied Forces. The purpose of the SCJ was to have scholars, who had been obliged to cooperate in the war, play an important role to reconstruct Japan as a “cultured nation” after the war.

GHQ’s “unusual interest” in SCJ

The GHQ showed “unusual interest” in the creation of the SCJ, according to a letter sent by Naoto Kameyama, the first SCJ president, to then Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida on November 20, 1953. Kameyama’s letter was sent to express his opposition to the argument for transferring the jurisdiction of the SCJ from the Prime Minister’s Office to a private sector organization or another government agency under an administrative reform. Kameyama explained that a national organization of scientists like the SCJ was either a governmental or semi-governmental body in “civilized nations.” The only exception was the United States but the GHQ admitted it was appropriate for the SCJ to be a governmental body, according to Kameyama.

The GHQ was interested in the SCJ as well as the new Constitution of Japan as tools to demilitarize Japan. The Japanese constitution was written mainly by the GHQ’s young Government Section officials in charge of occupation policy over a relatively short period of time. The constitution was designed to disarm and weaken Japan. It was natural for the GHQ to be interested in the SCJ as a group of peace-oriented scholars to reconstruct Japan as a cultured nation.

The SCJ has been loyal to pursue the mission. In 1950 and 1967, it issued statements vowing to reject any scientific research for the purpose of war. In March 2017, it announced a statement raising opposition to the Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency’s security technology research promotion program.

Memorandum of cooperation with China

The SCJ, which strictly monitors domestic research activities, signed a memorandum in 2015 with the China Association for Science and Technology on cooperation in “areas of common scientific interests.” Taking up the memorandum at the House of Councillors Cabinet Committee on October 8, lawmaker Eriko Yamatani of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party asked if the SCJ had ever discussed a growing sense of crisis in the U.S. about technology outflow to China that is embarking on civil-military fusion. Cabinet Office State Minister Hiromi Mitsubayashi answered that he was unaware that the SCJ had discussed the matter.

In a column on the Sankei Shimbun newspaper last November, Meisei University Prof. Masahiko Hosokawa, who had formerly worked for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said the U.S. was about to expand regulations on technology transfers to China to cover not only technologies that could be diverted to military purposes but also some that were not regulated before.

At a time when Japan is required to cooperate with the U.S. and others in tackling China’s threats, the SCJ failing to break away from the postwar regime does not have to be maintained as a government organization.

Takashi Arimoto is publisher of Monthly Magazine SEIRON at the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.