Japan Unveils First Basic Policy on AI Use in Defense

Categories: AI NewsTags: , , Published On: July 2, 20242.7 min read
AI use in Japan Defense

Japan’s Defense Ministry Introduces AI Policy to Address Manpower Shortage and Technological Competition

Introduction to AI in Defense

The Defense Ministry of Japan unveiled its first basic policy on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on Tuesday, aiming to address manpower shortages and keep pace with China and the United States in the military applications of AI. This strategic move comes as the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) face challenges related to recruitment and the integration of new technologies.

Utilizing AI to Overcome Demographic Challenges

Defense Minister Minoru Kihara highlighted the importance of AI in addressing the country’s demographic challenges. “In our country, where the population is rapidly declining and aging, it is essential to utilize personnel more efficiently than ever before,” Kihara stated during a news conference following the policy’s release. “We believe that AI has the potential to be one of the technologies that can overcome these challenges.”

AI Applications in Defense

Seven Priority Areas for AI Implementation

The new policy outlines seven priority areas where AI will be utilized, including:

  • Detecting and identifying targets using radar and satellite images
  • Intelligence collection and analysis
  • Unmanned military assets

“This will speed up decision-making, ensure superiority in information-gathering and analysis capabilities, reduce the burden on personnel, and save on labor and manpower,” the policy explains.


Japan Defense Ministry AI

Global Context and Technological Advancements

The policy notes the advancements of the United States and China in AI integration. The U.S. is exploring AI to integrate various systems and manage large data sets for improved decision-making, while China is enhancing its military, particularly unmanned weapons systems, with AI. In response, Japan recognizes the urgent need to adapt to new warfare methods and operate more efficiently.

“We are now at a crossroads between becoming an organization that is efficient and creates its own future through the use of AI, or becoming an inefficient, old-fashioned organization that lags behind,” the policy asserts.

Risks and Ethical Considerations

Managing AI Risks and Ensuring Human Control

The policy also acknowledges the risks associated with AI, such as errors and biases, emphasizing that AI implementation must adhere to government guidelines and international risk reduction discussions. A key principle of the policy is to ensure human involvement in AI usage.

“AI supports human judgment, and human involvement in its use should be ensured,” the policy states, clarifying that Japan does not intend to develop fully autonomous lethal weapon systems.

Broader Applications and Cybersecurity Initiatives

Additional Areas for AI Utilization

Beyond the primary focus areas, AI will also be used to enhance command and control, cybersecurity, logistics support, and administrative efficiency.

Strengthening Cyber Capabilities

In a related move, Kihara announced a new initiative to strengthen the Ground Self-Defense Force’s cyber capabilities. This includes the creation of a new exam to develop recruits into cyber commanders from the enlistment stage, as well as personnel exchanges with the private sector.

Strategic Background

These initiatives are part of Japan’s broader National Defense Strategy and Defense Buildup Program, which the Cabinet approved in 2022, highlighting the nation’s commitment to leveraging advanced technologies in defense.

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