Japan won’t disclose technology research at risk of overseas military use

The Japanese government will not release the results of its research into critical technologies if there is a risk the information could be misused for overseas military purposes or otherwise harm national interests, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The results of research on advanced technologies specified in the Economic Security Act will only be shared within associations made up of government officials and private researchers, with certain sensitive information additionally subject to confidentiality agreements, the sources said.

Sanae Takaichi, Japan’s newly appointed minister in charge of economic security, attends a press conference in Tokyo after a cabinet reshuffle on August 10, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The associations will serve as a trial run for a security clearance system the government plans to introduce, which will only allow vetted personnel to handle sensitive information.

Twenty technologies have been listed in the law as potentially critical, including hypersonic technology that could be used for missile development and space-related technology that could evolve into satellite surveillance systems.

Japan’s eagerness to advance in high-tech fields comes as competition has intensified between the United States, China and Russia in a rapidly changing security environment.

The economic security law enacted in May provides a framework for creating an association for each research field to facilitate the development of cutting-edge technologies through public-private cooperation.

The government is expected to invest about 500 billion yen ($3.8 billion) in research from the state economic security fund.

The results will generally be made public to assist universities, companies and other national organizations in the development and practical application of the technologies, except those which should be used for military purposes, such as defense and coast guard .

The government will also impose a confidentiality agreement on sensitive information provided for research purposes, punishable by a year in prison if breached.

The introduction of the security clearance system was proposed during the drafting of the new Economic Security Act, as such a system will prove essential for sharing classified information with overseas authorities. .

But it has yet to be included in the law after several members of the ruling parties raised concerns about the requirement of a background check to pass the screening.

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