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Expert: Japanese government should support science & technology research in security

  • January 6, 2022
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

By Kanehara Nobukatsu, former Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary. As told to the Nikkei’s Tobita Rintaro.


The National Security Strategy should be revised so that government funds can be used for science and technology research in the area of security. Major countries spend large amounts of money on research and development of advanced technologies that may not ultimately be realized. Most of such research is conducted in the name of security.


Hypersonic missiles that fly at speeds far exceeding the speed of sound are said to have been made with technology that China brought back from Japan in the 1990s. And it has been pointed out that lithium-ion battery technology has leaked from Japan to China and the U.S.


The Japanese government provides financial support for items for which there is already market demand. But funding technologies that are not on the market for security purposes would lead to the creation of new industries. Japanese technology tends to be forgotten without being put to practical use.


A major factor in this situation is that the Science Council of Japan has kept researchers from being involved in defense. The Japanese government’s science and technology budget is four trillion yen. But there is a deep-seated taboo against ever using these funds “to cooperate in defense.” These funds are on a scale comparable to the five-trillion-yen defense budget.


No matter how much money is provided to the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) or the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), there is almost no contribution to security. This is because the thinking that security will spur the development of science and technology does not exist. Japan has neither experts to find such technology nor a base for it.


Sectionalism also has an adverse effect on connecting science and technology with security. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) knows nothing about defense, and the Ministry of Defense (MOD) is not well informed about civilian technology. As a result, Japan is in a situation where excellent technology cannot be utilized for security.


Japan should take the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a model. DARPA invites excellent research projects on security and selects projects to which it immediately provides funds.


High-ranking U.S. Department of Defense officials frequently come to Japan, visiting not only government offices but also the private sector to bring back information on new technologies.


The revised National Security Strategy should include a proposal to link science and technology policy with security. The Japanese government should establish a Japanese version of DARPA and allocate an annual budget of several trillion yen. The government would bear the risks associated with the initial cost of research and development.


Fostering excellent technology and companies will in the long run contribute to Japan’s national defense and economic growth.

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