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close this bookScience and Technology in the Transformation of the World (UNU, 1982, 496 p.)
close this folderSession II: Technology generation and transfer - Transformation alternatives
close this folderScience and technology in Japanese history: university and society
close this folderKonji Kawano
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentI. Japan before the second world war
View the documentII. The change after the second world war
View the documentIII. The significance of ''the age of local communities''

II. The change after the second world war

The defeat in the Second World War ironically brought another round of industrialization to Japan. New research fields and technology originating in the United States were introduced. During the war the Second Faculty of Engineering was established at the University of Tokyo, but after the war the Faculty was reorganized into several research institutes for science and technology. Kyoto University also expanded its own Faculty of Engineering. The number of professors has Increased, from 63 in 1949 to 165 thirty years later in 1979. The number of students of engineering has expanded from 1,640 in 1957 to 5,500, and now the Faculty can boast that one out of every three students at the university is majoring in engineering. Besides these famous universities, the national universities have now expanded in number from 19 before the war to 93 at the present. Unfortunately, the new local universities have Insufficient funds and personnel to promote the study of social science even if they have both a Faculty of Letters and a Faculty of Science.

The significant change In the realm of the humanities is the alleviation of governmental control and interference and the disappearance of taboos affecting research projects. The number of chairs in humanities has not conspicuously increased but each scholar enjoys spiritual freedom, relieved from the burden of censorship. One new development in the research field of humanities has been the establishment of new Institutes for economics and business management. Quantity analysis developed by the US has been adopted in these new institutes. This shows a sign of westernization even in the study of the humanities.

In spite of the great change after the war, an unchangeable factor worth mentioning here is the leadership that the centralized government has shown. Throughout the American occupation, the US tried to Introduce the idea of decentralization into the Japanese administration, but It met direct or Indirect resistance from the bureaucracy. It also failed to decentralize education, the police system, and the financial system. The evolution of science and technology in postwar Japan was carried out under the guidance of the central government authorities such as the Ministry of Education and the Science and Technology Agency.

It Is well known that the leading developments in scientific technology after the war have been In the fields of automation, electronics, atomic energy, and synthetic chemistry, all of which were developed In the US. The sophisticated technology which needs elaborate equipment and a mass-production system can only be developed by the power of huge industrial conglomerates. The rapid growth of the economy in Japan has depended on the development of these huge industries. Therefore, the three decades after the war could be called "the Age of Science and Technology" In the history of Japan.

But one important factor is that science and technology, which have long been through" to represent the most brilliant achievements in the world, have suddenly proved to be incompatible with human beings and their societies. It became clear to us at the end of the 1960s that the development of science and technology could kill us all. Poisoning from agricultural chemicals and medical drugs, air pollution from the petroleum industry, water pollution from synthesized fertilizers, traffic accidents, and atomic plant radiation leaks, all these are damaging our society, although they are the by-products of modern industry, of science and technology.

In the space of a few years, our sense of values has reversed itself. Science and technology suddenly lost their shining status and their impact was regarded as suspect, though people stir clung to the benefits they were providing. It is interesting to see how people began to feel a strong need for decentralization and local autonomy as the negative view of science and technology began to prevail among the general public and as criticism and opposition increased against the centralized policies of the government. In Japan, many historians and economists, together with some of the progressive activists in local community movements, developed new research groups to study the possibility of establishing "regional communities." Besides these specialist groups, popular voices were raised and gained general support for local autonomy, local cultural activities, and the conservation of the environment.