The future of the Japanese RMA

The Yomiuri Shimbun reported today on the release of a report by the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute providing a medium- to long-term technology estimate, essentially outlining the future of the Japanese variant of the revolution in military affairs.

The question is, essentially, how will technology impact Japanese force structure and doctrine.

I have only skimmed the executive brief, but several things jumped out at me.

First, the Defense Ministry expects that restricted defense budgets will continue into the future, even as the security environment changes and the JSDF undertakes more peacekeeping and humanitarian missions abroad, in accordance with “overseas activities” becoming one of the primary missions of the JSDF late last year (at the same time the JDA was elevated to ministry status).

Second, there is a heavy emphasis on robotics and unmanned vehicles (not just aerial drones).

Third, the emphasis is on technology that will strengthen Japanese defensive capabilities, especially against unconventional threats.

As such, the shape of the Japanese RMA, rather than facilitating Japan’s becoming a more independent military power, will support military cooperation in the US-Japan alliance. The Defense Ministry is not planning on the development of technology that will undergird an independent Japanese deterrent (conventional or nuclear). Instead, there is a heavy emphasis on advanced sensors and other technologies that will create “systems of systems” among units in a given battlespace.

In any case, it’s worth a look.

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