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Technology

Arthur Herman: Japan's coming drone revolution

Unmanned aircraft, or drones, made headlines last spring when South Korean investigators found three small robotic planes equipped with digital cameras that had flown undetected across the border from North Korea and then crashed. South Korean officials were quick to point out that the sky-blue aircraft were unarmed and no bigger than a child's remote control airplane -- and highly unsophisticated compared with civilian drones that fly every day over the U.S. and Europe, or the armed ones that roam the skies of the Middle East. In September, the wreckage of another unmanned aircraft, believed to be North Korean, was found in a different location in South Korea.

     It was a chilling reminder that the unmanned revolution, or as some call it, the drone arms race, is coming to Asia, including Japan. Worldwide spending on drones is expected to double by 2023, and Japan's Defense Ministry is considering domestic production of four to eight unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, for surveillance and information gathering, to be deployed around fiscal 2020, according to a recent report by The Nikkei.

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