Aerial Footage of Destroyer: Weak Base Security against Drone Infiltration Is Appalling

The Self-Defense Forces’ completely inadequate security, which allowed a drone to intrude into a base and take aerial footage close to the deck of a destroyer, is appalling.

The Defense Ministry should inspect whether security systems are properly in place at its bases nationwide and strengthen their security measures.

In late March, a video purportedly showing drone footage of the destroyer Izumo docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, was posted on a Chinese video-sharing website and spread on social media.

Initially, many in the ministry believed that the video could not be real as the base has drone detection capabilities. Last week, however, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara announced, “There is a strong possibility that footage was actually taken.”

According to sources, it is believed that a Chinese person filmed the video for the purpose of a prank.

The Yokosuka base houses the command functions of the MSDF. If it had been an attack drone and dropped a bomb, it would not have been a small matter. The fact that security was so weak that the drone could not be captured is a serious problem.

Flying a drone in the air within 300 meters of Yokosuka Base and its surrounding areas without authorization from the base administrator is prohibited under the Drone Law. To prevent a reoccurrence, the ministry and police authorities should charge this person for violating the law.

The 248-meter-long Izumo is the largest of the 51 destroyers owned by the MSDF, along with the Kaga. The Izumo is currently undergoing modifications to accommodate the takeoffs and landings of the state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighters.

Aerial videos of what appears to be the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked at the U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base were also posted on social media.

Yokosuka is the only U.S. military base outside the United States that houses U.S. aircraft carriers. Japanese engineers provide high quality maintenance and inspection services and are trusted by the United States. Japan’s failure to prevent the drone intrusion is a serious matter.

The fact that it took more than a month for the ministry to verify the authenticity of the video is also problematic. Kihara explained, “We carefully analyzed the video to determine if there was a possibility that it was modified or fabricated.”

These days, anyone can easily create sophisticated fake videos using generative artificial intelligence.

With a flood of information of unknown authenticity, wrong decisions can be made, and it can take time to accurately assess a situation. It can be said that this danger has become a reality in the latest incident.

Information warfare, in which a country tries to influence public opinion in other countries by disseminating false information and videos, has been occurring worldwide. Improving information analysis capabilities is another important issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2024)