Japan to invest in ‘specific critical technologies’ to enhance economic security

Japan plans to heavily invest in high-tech areas with the aim of enhancing the nation’s security, according to draft basic guidelines on “specific critical technologies” compiled by the government.

Research and studies will be carried out in 20 fields, including hypersonic technology and artificial intelligence (AI). The basic guidelines will be formally adopted by the Cabinet as early as September.

The draft guidelines define specific critical technologies as having the capacity to possibly “undermine the security of the nation and its people” if used duplicitously, such as in cases of theft by outside organizations or by being rendered unstable due to monopolization by other countries.

The draft emphasizes that research into and development of specific critical technologies — and the utilization of subsequent results — are “indispensable elements for Japan to maintain a firm position in the international community over the medium and long terms.”

If Japan relies heavily on other countries or foreign companies for key technologies, it could face obstacles vis-a-vis usage of such technologies if relations with the other parties were to deteriorate.

The project would form part of the government’s national strategy and aim to counter countries such as China that are developing their own cutting-edge technologies.

In addition to AI and hypersonic technology — which can realize velocities of Mach 5 or higher and be used for transportation purposes — the fields include medical and public health technology (including biotechnology and genomics), advanced computing technology, robotic engineering, and advanced monitoring, positioning and sensors.

A council of experts and officials from relevant ministries and agencies will narrow down the areas to be fostered from the 20 fields from autumn. Advice will also be sought from a think tank on economic security to be established by the government in fiscal 2023.