Japanese policy-makers are finalizing the budget for a futuristic military technology research center, modeled on the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a target of conspiracy theorists and wacky sci-fi aficionados for decades. Reuters reports:
Japan’s Cabinet Office, which will oversee the program, is negotiating with the Finance Ministry on the scale of the funding, government officials familiar with the process told Reuters. It will be included in a draft budget for the fiscal year from April, which will be approved by Abe’s cabinet in late December.
JARPA, as people have already started calling it, will focus on civilian technology that could eventually have military applications. Until now, military and civilian tech research has been firmly separated in Japan. The new research program will combine both and be overseen solely by the Cabinet office in Tokyo.The funding for the project will be relatively small, much smaller than DARPA’s annual $2.8 billion budget, and the aims of the program are not purely military in nature, but there’s no doubt it will boost Japan’s ability to develop advanced military technology. Japan’s current military research and development arm, for example, is expecting to release a prototype stealth jet fighter next year. Meanwhile, Abe raised defense spending for the first time in over a decade in January, and has focused attention on building the capabilities of Japan’s surveillance, coast guard, and emergency deployment forces. He has also sought to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on exporting military hardware and to make it easier for Japan’s armed forces to go to war.JARPA is yet another sign that Japan is in the process of making itself stronger and more able to repel threats from aggressive neighbors. Those neighbors are taking note, and building their own capabilities to match. Across Asia, an arms race is on.