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Politics

Japan defense ministry to beef up cybersecurity with AI

Country aims to lessen growing gap with US, China and Russia

Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force personnel listen to a lecture on cyber defense.

TOKYO -- Japan will expand use of artificial intelligence in the defense sector, where the country lags far behind the U.S., China and other nations.

The defense ministry will initially deploy AI for cybersecurity and maintenance of defense equipment.

In the cybersecurity arena, the ministry will introduce AI in the communications network of the Self-Defense Forces' counter-cyberattack unit from fiscal 2020 to analyze and address malware. AI-based systems will review past attacks, detect and neutralize computer viruses, and predict future threats.

AI will also help manage defense equipment to reduce maintenance costs and save on labor. For example, using past maintenance records, it will identify parts in need of repair or replacement after vessels of the Maritime Self-Defense Force return from extended missions.

Required costs will be included in the ministry's 2020 budget requests. The ministry said it will promote AI in its National Defense Program Guidelines formulated late last year.

AI will also be used to translate foreign military and defense data to assist policy formulation from fiscal 2020. Further down the road, the ministry wants to use AI-driven deep learning for operating unmanned aircraft.

The ministry began studying AI in fiscal 2018, using technologies developed in the U.S. and Israel.

While the U.S., China and Russia are competing head-to-head in the development of AI-controlled autonomous weapons, Japan lags far behind.

China plans to develop remote-controlled tanks and other weapons, while the U.S. is conducting research on a technology that uses AI to analyze data collected from satellite images to capture signs of missile launches.

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