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Kyodo News: 31 Japanese Universities Stepped Up Vetting of International Students to Prevent Technology Leaks

The Japanese government is tightening its control over sensitive technology leaks through international students. Universities in Japan will need to come up with measures to face the challenge. Kyoto News recently conducted a survey of 56 private or public universities that have either an affiliation with Chinese universities that have ties with the military or that have a large number of foreign students. Among them, 31 universities have implemented or are considering stricter identity checks on international students who are majoring in sensitive technology studies.

The results showed that only 24 universities would implement or consider implementing the vetting of students who signed an agreement not to take controlled technology out of Japan. Also, only a few universities disclosed whether they have received any foreign funding. All of these are indications that there is a lack of effective responses to the risk of technology leaks.

The Japanese government announced in June that it would strengthen export controls over sensitive technology and adopt a licensing program for universities that receive research funding from foreign governments or allow foreign students to access technologies.

Surveys show that more than half of the universities have or are considering increased identity checks on past academic qualifications, work resumes, and other areas of concern. Ten universities have asked their international students to answer whether they intend to join military-related organizations, and 14 universities now validate the details of financial support from foreign institutions.

The Japanese government is also urging the control of Japanese scholars to get them to take part in joint overseas research. According to the survey, less than 30 percent of the universities have a filing mechanism to report the joint research. There are currently 14 universities that have Confucius Institutes. One university said it was considering a restructure of its operations.

As of last May, the number of international students in Japan was about 280,000. China is the largest by nationality, accounting for more than 40 percent of the total.

Source: Kyodo News, September 7, 2021