Underwater Drones Part of Japan’s Ocean Development Plans; Mining of Rare Earth Minerals Also a Goal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office

Submersible drones will be put into practical use by fiscal 2030 to strengthen undersea watch and alert systems with an eye on China’s ocean advances, according to an outline of the Japanese government’s key strategy for ocean development, which was obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The strategy, being compiled to strengthen Japan’s ocean policy, sets the goal to develop unmanned underwater vehicles capable of autonomously navigating underwater.

The outline of the strategy emphasizes, “To realize a plan to make Japan a true ocean-resource state, this strategy is for implementing important missions by all governmental offices and ministries.”

The outline specifies goals to achieve in several areas.

On the undersea mining of rare earths, the outline sets goals for conducting research around Minami-Torishima island, part of the remote Ogasawara island chain that is administratively part of Tokyo, and begin production of rare earths as early as fiscal 2028.

Other measures being considered include establishing systems for installing wind power generation facilities at sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zones and building a system to more efficiently obtain data about remote territorial islands near national borders.

The outline was approved by the Liberal Democratic Party at a meeting on Friday, and the government plans to compile the strategy possibly by the end of April.