The Ministry of Defense (MOD) will hire experts to hunt out advanced technologies held by private companies and research organizations and utilize them in national security. The ministry will create posts tasked with managing technical investigations in fiscal 2021 and also invite part-time researchers from the private sector. The plan is aimed at establishing a system to swiftly use such new technologies as artificial intelligence (AI) and electromagnetic waves in developing defense equipment. AI and electromagnetic waves are now being utilized in this way across the globe.
The MOD will explain its plan at a meeting of the National Defense Division of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Dec. 2. It will assign an “officer in charge of technology policy,” an “officer in charge of research cooperation promotion,” and five part-time “special researchers” to its Department of Technology Strategy in the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) in fiscal 2021. The ministry will also increase staffing at the division responsible for the plan.
The officer in charge of technology policy will broadly collect and analyze advanced technologies from in and outside Japan and decide on policies for defense equipment development. The officer will conduct research in such areas as technologies to handle AI, hypersonic missiles, high-power lasers, and attack drones.
The ministry will hire special researchers from external research organizations and universities to collect information. They will discover new technologies in the industrial and academic worlds and provide information to the officer in charge of technology policy.
The officer in charge of research cooperation promotion will develop basic research projects in the public sector into defense technologies. The officer will promote the use of the government’s “National Security Technology Research Promotion Fund” and other frameworks. The ministry will define the entire new system [for discovering advanced technologies] as a “technology think tank” and strengthen cooperation with external research bodies.
ATLA is creating a database by conducting research on technologies held by the industrial and academic communities. ATLA needs to analyze information on advanced technologies in and outside the country and accurately select the areas necessary for the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) going forward.
Japan’s neighbors, including China and Russia, are promoting research in such new domains as AI, outer space, and cyberspace by spending a huge amount of money on their militaries. That has prompted a call for Japan to effectively proceed with research and development with its limited defense budget in order not to lag behind other nations in new domains.
Some say private technologies are not being optimally applied to security objectives in Japan. For this reason, the MOD will enhance public-private cooperation by recruiting staff from the public sector and make advanced technologies available for both business and security purposes.