Japan Won’t Develop ‘Killer AI,’ Government Pledges; Seeks Global Rules on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Foreign Ministry head office is seen in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 1, 2020.

The government has declared Japan’s stance on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), saying it would not develop them and calling for the creation of international rules to regulate such systems.

The Foreign Ministry formulated Japan’s stance on LAWS — in which artificial intelligence sets attack targets and carries out deadly strikes with no direct human control — at the request of the United Nations. Japan’s position was released in written form on the ministry’s website on Monday.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres is expected to release a report this summer compiling the views of different countries.

Japan’s opinion said it does not intend to develop fully autonomous lethal weapons with no human involvement. It praised autonomous weapons systems that do involve human control, saying they have security value in terms of reducing human error and saving labor and manpower.

The statement also said it is important to work to clarify regulations and operational frameworks related to LAWS, adding that Japan intends to actively and constructively participate in international rule-making.

AI-equipped drones have been used extensively in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and concerns have grown in the international community about the practical application of LAWS.