Japan's National Security Policies and Science and Technology

Nobukatsu Kanehara

1. Science and Technology Decide the Winner of Any War

Science and technology decide the winner of any war. The late 18th-century industrial revolution endowed European nations, located at the western end of the Eurasian continent, with the power to curve out the world like pieces of a cake. They became dominant precursors to shape the industrialized world in the 19th century. In the era of total wars in the first half of the 20th century, submarines, tanks, radar, aircraft, and other weapons incorporating the best of science debuted on the battlefields, killing tens of millions of people. Nuclear weapons, which appeared near the end of World War II, helped usher in the Cold War or a long period of cold peace. During the Cold War era, space satellites came into use for communication, reconnaissance, positioning, etc. At the end of the 20th century, computer performance improved significantly, and the 21st century witnessed the emergence of cyberspace. Until the leadup to World War II, Japan desperately kept up with military technology of the West. But the defeat in the war left Japan far behind in the areas of nuclear weapons, space satellites, and cyber weapons for the military purposes. Leaving Japan at a standstill, scientists in the world continued their strenuous efforts in quest of advanced technology. Science does not stop to make progress, and it continues to change the battlefields of tomorrow. Those who lag in the field of science and technology will lose on the battlefield. It is not desperate bravery but science and technology that determine the war's outcome.

(1) New warfare (Part 1) - Space war and information supremacy

In the first Gulf War led by President George W. H. Bush (41st), the US military used space assets and instantaneously demolished the Iraqi army. Near the end of the Cold War, Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait. It was an outrageous act that trampled on the postwar international order embodied in the UN Charter. At that time, the US military first made full tactical use of positional information and image information (infrared, optical, and radar imageries) gathered by space satellites and time synchronization capabilities, in addition to intelligence from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and pushed back the Iraqi forces. Reportedly China was deeply shocked to witness the new warfare.

The second Gulf War led by President George W. Bush (43rd) represented a culmination of RMA (Revolution in Military Affairs) driven by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It was an information technology revolution in the military using advanced computing. Overwhelming information processing capabilities of advanced computers enabled the US military to instantaneously determine enemy positions, identify friend and foe, and allocate offensive assets for their own forces. Logistics units swiftly transported ammunition and supplies as much as needed to the battlefields as US forces moved. Saddam Hussein's army was overwhelmed by US forces, and the state of Iraq collapsed.

After the turn of the century, China shook the world by conducting an anti-satellite (ASAT) test. During the Cold War, there was a tacit agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union not to use space as a battlefield. China's ASAT test defied the agreements. In a moment, space was transformed from a combat support domain to a warfighting domain. The functions of space satellites (reconnaissance, positioning, time synchronization, and communication) became indispensable for modern warfare. However, space satellites are vulnerable to 1) physical attacks, 2) cyber-attacks, 3) jamming attacks, and 4) attacks against downlink ground facilities. Satellite hijacking (spoofing), GPS signal distortion, and space blackout emerge as real threats. An imminent challenge is the improvement of the resilience of space assets. The use of civilian constellation satellites (launching many satellites into low orbits) is underway.

The latest development related to Japan's space policy is the establishment of the Space Operation Squadron as a Japan Air Self-Defense Force unit. The squadron has begun to improve space surveillance capabilities (SSA: space situational awareness).

(2) New warfare (Part 2) - War in cyberspace and hybrid warfare

In 2014, Russia used a combination of cyber-attacks and special forces attacks to take the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. This incident marked the beginning of a hybrid war that astonished the international community.

Cyberspace is a bizarre space. There is no sound, no light, no distance, no time. Hackers can move at a moment's notice through the global web of computers and smartphones connected by optical fibers. There is no knowing when and who comes out of nowhere. A world engulfed in cyberspace is like a giant haunted house.

In the past, strategic bombing aimed at the enemy's political and economic centers was beyond the reach of a poor country. Now, a well-trained young cyber soldier can sever down the enemy's lifeline with a cyber-attack. Their targets include electricity (power plants and substations), gas, water, sewage, communication networks, high-speed railroads, and airport control. Among their other targets are financial centers such as banks and stock exchanges, industrial centers such as industrial complexes, and vulnerable nuclear power plants and dams. Today, if massive cyberattacks had come, the JSDF or Japan itself could be "already dead before they fight."

Cyber-attacks come unexpectedly like a slap on the cheek in the dark. Or a logic bomb embedded in one's system explodes. Nobody could know beforehand who is cyber attacking him or her. The theory of deterrence, which is predicated on transparency and a minimum level of trust, does not work. The only way available to defend oneself is an active defense; if cyberattacks come to his or her system, one needs to identify the enemy (attribution) as soon as possible and to strike back to stop consecutive attacks.

Malware intrusion takes place in peacetime. An exhaustive investigation of the adversary's computer system and time-consuming embedding of malware is where intelligence agencies can best exhibit their skill. Cyber-attacks are unleashed in contingency and peacetime alike. Proactive peacetime defensive measures are essential; for this purpose, it is imperative to watch the enemy's movements in peacetime.

At the end of this fiscal year, a long-awaited cyber operations unit will be launched in the JSDF. However, the JSDF does not have the legal right to active defense. Neither is it legally empowered to safeguard the government and critical infrastructures outside the military facilities. Furthermore, the JSDF possesses no attribution capability or offensive capabilities necessary for active defense. It is imperative to redress this situation as soon as possible.

Although the National Center of Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (NISC) addresses the cyber security situation, it is fundamentally a responsive organization to a situation, not a command post for building a robust system to ensure cyber security for the whole government and critical infrastructures. The absence of such a cyber security setup in the government is a grave problem.

(3) Future warfare: Drones and quantum science will drastically change the battlefield

What will future warfare look like? Robots and drones will serve for intelligence gathering and offensive operations. The unmanned battlefield is a global trend. Unmanned robotic weapons entail a question of who will make an ethical judgment at which stage; yet, they are much cheaper and more efficient in terms of performance than manned weapons. An unmanned fighter plane can withstand any g-force because there is no human on board; it needs no air conditioning, heating, or oxygen for breathing. It does not matter if, at worst, it gets shot down. Drones are capable of destroying the target by destroying themselves like kamikaze attacks. They are good at swarm attacks (mass attacks like a massive horde of grasshoppers). In the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Turkish-supported Azerbaijani army defeated the Russian-supported Armenian army by frequent drone attacks. The incident shocked the international community. In developed countries and China, the population will further decline and age. This means less and less human soldiers will be deployed on the battlefield. More and more drones will come to fight in their stead.

Quantum science will further increase in importance because it will radically transform human society in 10 to 20 years. It will likewise change the battlefield. In the 21st century, those who achieve dominance in quantum science will win on the battlefield.

1) Eavesdropping-proof quantum communication is already in practical use. 2) Quantum gyroscopes would make GPS satellites obsolete because the innovative device would be capable of an accurate position measurement using geomagnetism. Quantum gyroscopes are particularly useful for submarines, which must occasionally surface to measure their own location using GPS satellites. Quantum gyroscopes will allow drone submarines to destroy enemy ports with high accuracy. 3) Quantum cryptography will make current cryptanalysis obsolete. With quantum computers capable of decrypting ciphers, it will be possible to decipher current cryptographic communications stored as data. 4) The quantum computer boasts high calculation speeds and will dramatically increase the capacity and speed of information processing. Those advanced computers will drastically improve not only pharmaceuticals, materials, FinTech, automated driving but also information processing on the battlefield.

2. Alienation Unique to Japan of Scientific and Industrial Technology from National Defense

(1) Historical background: The "yoke of defeat" and the impact of the Cold War

Every advanced nation in the world knows that the advancement of science and technology is the key to national security. That is why science and technology budgets are huge to cover basic and applied research, R&D, venture capital, and military applications. In advancing social implementation, every country faces the "valley of death" or difficulties in bringing technology to market. Private investments will not flow into precocious technologies that the market (private companies) does not value from a profitability standpoint. Such technologies are stored to die. Or they are bought and outflow to foreign countries.

However, this must not be the case with advanced technology that could contribute to national security. Advanced technology applied for national security protects the nation, protects the people, and ultimately protects the lives of the JSDF personnel on the battlefield. Therefore, as far as sensitive technologies that can be a game-changer of warfare are concerned, the government makes massive investments in the name of security and shoulders high risks that private companies cannot bear. Such is the case with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and China's "military-civil fusion" strategy. There is no "valley of death" in these two countries because huge bridges of security span the "valley of death."

In Japan, on the other hand, there is a unique situation in which scientific and industrial technology and national security are distinctly alienated. This constitutes a major impediment to the promotion of science and technology for the purpose of security policies, and technological security cooperation in the Japan-US alliance. Furthermore, the alienation is not only conducive to the decline of Japan's defense industry but also to the deterioration of the technological capabilities of the Japanese industry as a whole.

A reason for the above is a historical one. It is the curses of Japan's defeat in World War II and her involvement in the Cold War. Most importantly, Japan is a WWII loser. The headquarter of the US-led Allied occupation forces, fearing the revival of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy that had mobilized a total of 10 million troops, aimed to completely eliminate Japan's technological and industrial capabilities to wage war while leaving Japan's security to the newly established United Nations. This is the true meaning of the renunciation of "war potential" stipulated in Article 9 Section 2 of the Japanese Constitution. Germany also had its coal, steel, and nuclear industries as sources of war potential internationalized by the European Community; its rocket engineers were forced to emigrate to the United States.

Wandering forlorn among piles of rubble, the Japanese people yearned for peace. Japanese academia and industry had to declare, "We will never be involved in the military affairs again," to continue their research and development. Even after the United States decided to support Japan's rearmament with the start of the Cold War and the Korean War, there still lingered among Americans a "cap in the bottle" argument that the United States should prevent the resurgence of Japanese militarism by the Japan-US Security Treaty system. The United States was initially skeptical about Japan's acquisition of space capabilities and nuclear technology. Japan was obliged to turn to France for cooperation. It was only relatively recently that the United States began to say, "Do whatever you like except nukes and be strong as quickly as possible."

Secondly, a profound domestic divide emerged due to Japan's involvement in the Cold War. As mentioned earlier, after the start of the Cold War and the outbreak of the Korean War, the United States decided to support the rearmament of Japan. Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who held the helm of newborn Japan, decided to continue the stationing of US troops in Japan and concluded the first Japan-US Security Treaty, followed by the inauguration of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The Soviet Union, one of the Allied Powers, reacted vehemently to the move. The Soviet Union's policy towards Japan aimed at the withdrawal of US troops from Japan and the prevention of the revival of Japanese militarism, both of which were in their entirety taken over by the Japan Socialist Party advocating Japan's unarmed neutrality. In 1955, the Japan Socialist Party and the Liberal Democratic Party came into existence. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was vicariously fought by the two political parties. Unlike the parties representing labor unions in the West (British Labour Party, French Socialist Party, Social Democratic Party of Germany, US Democratic Party, etc.), the Japan Socialist Party was a pro-Soviet member, and stood by the East. On national security, Japan could not come to a consensus because of the deep ideological division caused by the domestic Cold War. It contributed to the absence of security policy consensus among the Japanese people, which was unusual for any other western nations.

The leftward drift of the Japanese political media lasted into the 1980s even after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the new Cold War began. Afterward, they took up diverse positions from conservative to reformist. Meanwhile, the Japanese academic world remained sympathetic to the leftist cause. In particular, the Science Council of Japan and other academic circles under the strong influence of some political parties opposed the rearmament of Japan and the Japan-US alliance, adhering to pacifism. Not directly but they represented the interests of the Soviet Union.

The Japanese academic community has consistently refused to cooperate with the Ministry of Defense or with the US Department of Defense. Even today, Japanese national universities do not hire any scholar as a faculty member unless he/she writes a note to the effect that he/she will not engage in military research. Self-Defense Force personnel are not allowed to enter graduate schools at national universities of science and technology. This is a clear discrimination. The similar exclusionist policy was adopted by national institutes under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (RIKEN, etc.) and those under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), etc.). In Kasumigaseki, defense ministry's engineers and self-defense force's engineers had until recently been deprived of contacts with engineers of other ministries and agencies. When the Ministry of Defense launched the Security Technology Research Promotion System and proposed research exchanges with academia and the private sector, preparing a budget of 10 billion yen, the Science Council of Japan instructed the national universities to refuse cooperation. It is unusual that the Science Council of Japan that is a member agency of the Cabinet Office, is at odds with the policy of the Prime Minister who is the political leader chosen by the Japanese people. The government official should quit if his conviction is against the will of the master chosen by the people. There should be no civil servant in any part of the world who declares to the Prime Minister, "My opinion is against your opinion and I defy you, Prime Minister and you should keep me in this post." This anomaly has been tolerated for years in the Japanese government. It is because of the pacifism born in the defeat of World War II and the domestic political divide as a negative legacy of the Cold War. The Japanese academic circle, which, represented by the Science Council of Japan, is still bound by the heavy legacy of the past.

(2) The system of the current budget on scientific and industrial technology

Japan's annual budget for science and technology is worth four trillion yen. This accounts for 4% of the overall national budget of 100 trillion yen and is just under defense spending of 5 trillion yen. Given that the majority of the national budget goes to government bond redemption, medical care, pensions, and financial assistance to local governments, and that the sum left at the government's discretion is just 20 trillion yen, it is apparent that an extraordinary amount of taxpayers' precious money is being generously distributed to scientists without due consideration. The Council for Science and Technology Innovation (CSTI), presided over by the prime minister, is responsible for disbursing this 4 trillion yen, and the Director-General for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of the Cabinet Office serves as the head of the council's secretariat.

The CSTI formulates the Basic Plan for Science and Technology and allocates 20 trillion yen following a five-year plan. The budget is managed by the Director-General for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of the Cabinet Office, the Science and Technology Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The Science Council of Japan has a permanent seat on the CSTI. The Ministry of Defense in charge of national defense, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in charge of pandemic prevention, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism responsible for natural disaster prevention remain excluded.

Out of the 4 trillion yen annual budget for science and technology, almost 2 trillion yen goes to national universities and research institutes through the Japan Science and Technology Foundation (JST) under the jurisdiction of the MEXT. One trillion yen goes to AIST through the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) under the jurisdiction of the METI, the remaining one trillion yen goes to the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) --- an MHLW-affiliated organization ---, and other government agencies. The Ministry of Defense's research spending is as tiny as 200 billion yen, while the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) under the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications --- an undisputed frontrunner in the field of information and communications technology --- is allocated with a modest budget worth 25 billion yen. Security concerns are not budgeted at all. Moreover, out of the 2 trillion yen mentioned above, 800 billion yen is appropriated for university administration (effectively subsidies) that has no connection with R&D; this funding constitutes huge vested interests in the academic world.

The problem is that national and public universities and national research institutes have been under the strong influence of the Science Council of Japan and some political parties, and have consistently refused cooperation with research institutes affiliated with the Ministry of Defense or the US Department of Defense since the end of World War II. The Japanese government has thus far provided budget in developing technologies possibly capable of contributing to national defense following the model of DARPA in US. But unsuccessful examples are "Moonshot Research and Development Program" and "Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program (ImPACT)"that did not produce any new technology related to the national security. As long as the academic community declares that it will not engage in defense-related research, as long as the budget continues to be drained through the JST and NEDO, it will be almost impossible to promote the development of science and technology for the cause of national security.

(3) The way things should go: DARPA as an example

The prevailing philosophy should be that the advancement of science and technology in general forms the foundation of national security. Science and technology are the outcomes of researchers' strenuous endeavors. Just a very small number of scientists are rewarded with, for example, Nobel Prizes. That is why the government should support basic research, applied research, and even R&D efforts. But the valley of death between the academia and the market lies beyond this stage. To move from the research phase to the phase of industrial production, a huge financial risk should be taken. No private company will dare to take big risk unless they are profitable in the near future. The "valley of death" in Japan is notably deep. The government who should look into the future of 30 or 50 years later should cover the risk for the cause of national security, for the new technology might help revolutionize military technology. This is why the government should flexibly take big risk of making massive investments to new technologies to bridge the "valley of death." The reason why the government should, in defiance of the logic of the market, invest taxpayers' precious money in the venture business of new scientific technologies is that such investments are necessary for the progress of science that constitutes the core basis of national security.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the US Department of Defense provides funding for innovative ideas of an engineer who has gone through a strict screening process. The engineer assumes the obligation to complete a prototype and launch a venture company. The developed technology is first tested on the market and then is left to mature. (A typical successful example is Moderna, famous for its production of anti-coronavirus vaccines.) Once the technology has matured, it is brought to institutes such as RAND Corporation and the Mitre Cooperation that research how to apply it for military use. If the technology proves to be promising as a military technology, it will be implemented by the military industry. The Pentagon's budget on science and technology is 10 trillion yen, and the Department of Energy's 2 trillion yen. They account for 60% of the US government's total R&D budget of 20 trillion yen. This system is creating new scientific and industrial technologies one after another, representing the technological power of the United States. The same is more or less true for other countries, including China and its military-civil fusion strategy. Due to the absence of a similar system, Japan has lost its technological competitiveness.

To break this stalemate, I should like to recommend that independent of the JST and NEDO, an international center for quantum and cyber research be established in Yokosuka, where communications technology laboratories of NTT and the JSDF are located. Following the example of Israel's Beersheba, Japan should think of creating a second Tsukuba Science City that is free from the "yoke of defeat" and the negative legacy of the Cold War, both of which still bind the Japanese academia.

As for economic security, in addition to the issues described above, there are issues such as supply chain resilience, prior checks and regulations for critical infrastructures protection, cyber security, and confidential patents. At the Cornwall Summit in 2021, the "G7 Panel on Economic Resilience" (on which the author served as a panelist from the Japanese side) submitted, in response to a request for advice from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a report focusing on supply chain resilience and cyber security (

On February 1, 2022, a report by the government panel on legislation for economic security was submitted to the government. I was a panelist in it.


In addition to the public-private cooperation on fostering emerging technologies discussed in this essay, the report elaborates on confidential patents, supply chain resilience, and the safety of critical infrastructures.

(Professor, Doshisya University)

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