TOKYO -- U.S. and Japanese defense experts expressed optimism at a forum Sunday that bilateral collaboration in advanced military technology will progress amid a security environment marked by the North Korean nuclear threat.
The private sector is the main driver behind development of weapons technology, and Japan is a key partner, Frank Kendall, the U.S. undersecretary of defense in the Obama administration, said at the Mount Fuji Dialogue in Tokyo. The gathering unites influential government officials and businesspeople from the U.S. and Japan.
Hideaki Watanabe, the former chief of Japan's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, expanded on that view, saying "Japan possesses superior materials research." The agency is part of the Defense Ministry.
"By coalescing with the U.S., we will be able to produce groundbreaking hardware," Watanabe added.
William Schneider, who chaired the Defense Science Board at the U.S. Department of Defense, touched on the potential for artificial intelligence to advance military technology. Deep learning is granting military leaders new insights, he remarked.
Japan in particular boasts advanced research capabilities in quantum computing, which can contribute to encryption technology, Arthur Herman, senior research fellow at America's Hudson Institute, pointed out.
Masanori Nishi, Japan's former administrative vice minister of defense, said it is crucial for Tokyo to efficiently maintain its defense capabilities, noting how both the U.S. and Japan are struggling to balance national budgets.
China's rising military might also came up, with Kendall contrasting China's deep capacity to produce hardware with the former Soviet Union's deficient manufacturing technology.
"Members of [Japan's] Self-Defense Forces have been assuming more responsibilities amid recent activities by China and North Korea," said Nishi.
The two-day Mount Fuji Dialogue, which wrapped up Sunday, is sponsored by the Japan Center for Economic Research and the Japan Institute of International Affairs.