Treading new turf, Defense Ministry offers subsidies for university research

JIJI

The Defense Ministry plans to subsidize university research in basic technologies for the first time ever. It is nevertheless aware that there is sensitivity in academia about getting involved in military-related work.

The ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute is soliciting applications for the annual subsidies of up to ¥30 million each by mid-August. It will decide on the recipients in early November.

Among examples of possible subject areas, the institute suggests work on laser systems and the development of high-efficiency power generators for aircraft engines. Each project that secures a subsidy is supposed to be completed within three years.

The ministry has budgeted ¥300 million for the program in the current fiscal year, through March 31.

In the past, it has provided research funds for defense equipment development by private companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., but has never directly subsidized researchers at universities.

In June last year, the ministry announced plans to strengthen cooperation with universities and private research institutions in an effort to enhance defense production and technological capabilities.

It is aware that some academics may not want to get too closely involved, and with this in mind it is offering the subsidy program to basic science projects. It hopes this will put researchers at ease when applying, a senior ministry official said.

  • Liars N. Fools

    The Americanization of Japan’s defense culture would seem to be continuing. A better ides would be for Japanese firms to do what they have done before which is to exploit DARPA created technologies for commercial application.