Japan, U.S. to promote cooperation on dual-use technologies

Left: Prime Minister Kishida Speaks at the press conference in Rome on Tuesday.
Right: President Joe Biden listens during a news conference Mexico on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden are expected to agree at their upcoming summit to strengthen cooperation over “dual-use” technologies that can be utilized for both civilian and defense purposes, it has been learned.

In its rivalry for technological supremacy with China, the U.S. side has high hopes for Japan’s capabilities in civilian technologies. Cooperation is envisioned in such areas as drones, artificial intelligence, robotics, and quantum technology, several sources of both governments said.

This is believed to be the first time that bilateral promotion of dual-use technologies will be confirmed between the leaders of Japan and the United States. Kishida and Biden are scheduled to meet in Washington on Friday.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the U.S. Department of Defense has produced, through its research support, technologies for both military and civilian use, such as the Global Positioning System. In recent years, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) of the Department of Defense has been focusing on collaborating with startups to develop innovative technologies.

China has adopted “military-civil fusion” as a national strategy, and other countries are also rapidly promoting the use of advanced civilian technologies in military applications. However, Japan has lagged behind due to the reluctance of the academic community and others to cooperate over military technologies.

The Japanese government has been trying to change this trend, as indicated by its National Security Strategy formulated last December, which calls for “proactive use of the fruits of advanced technology research conducted by the public and private sectors in defense equipment applications.”

Seizing this momentum, the United States also hopes to utilize the technologies of Japan, which has manufacturers and private research institutes with strong technological prowess and development capabilities, to strengthen its deterrence against China and other countries.

Unmanned aircraft are a leading candidate for dual-use technologies. At their defense ministers meeting to be held on Thursday just before the summit talks, Japan and the United States are expected to agree to joint research on drones that are expected to be operated in support of the next-generation combat aircraft that Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy will develop jointly.

This indicates the high expectations Washington has for Japanese technologies in unmanned aircraft, and the agreement by the leaders of both countries is likely to broaden the scope of bilateral cooperation utilizing civilian technologies.

The National Defense Strategy adopted last December spelled out a plan to establish a research and development organization within the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency, an organization that will be responsible for devising advanced multiple-use technologies that can be utilized in a wide range of fields. It is also expected to cooperate with DARPA and DIU.