The Defense Ministry plans to set up a fund to develop military technology by aiding research projects at universities and other civilian institutions, government sources have revealed.
In a move aimed at keeping down development costs and bolstering civilian-military cooperation, the ministry plans to seek roughly ¥2 billion for the fund in its budget request for fiscal 2015 beginning next April, raising it to ¥6 billion in three years, the sources said Saturday.
The fund, which will be modeled after the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s drive to expand the nation’s military capabilities. It will finance promising projects in such fields as surveillance radar technology and aviation materials.
The ministry is currently developing a replacement for the Air Self-Defense Force’s high-tech F-2 fighter jet.
Behind the ministry’s plan lurks the administration’s desire to expand ties with universities and other research institutions engaged in defense research, while resistance remains strong on the part of the civilian institutions to aid the development technology that can be diverted for military use. Up until now, the Defense Ministry has developed any defense technology by itself.
A group of university researchers has recently organized a petition opposed to civil-military cooperation, citing the bitter history of academia contributing to the nation’s militarization during World War II.
On the other hand, many researchers are struggling with a shortage of research funds. The ministry’s fund is likely to spur controversy, as it could be seen as offering financial incentives to cash-strapped researchers to get them to focus on defense technologies.
In May, the University of Tokyo turned down a request from the ministry to help find the cause of defects in the next-generation C-2 transport aircraft that were detected during stress tests.