Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2011 Shangri-la Security Summit in Singapore

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa meets with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2011 Shangri-la Security Summit in Singapore (Source: AP/Wong Maye-E)

Following the NHK report last week, on Saturday the Asahi reported on Kitazawa’s speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting announcing plans for the SDF to get drones to combat future nuclear incidents, but there is an international twist:

Defense Minister Announces Plans for SDF to get Robots for International Nuclear Accident Assistance

During his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue meeting in Singapore (held by the British International Institute for Strategic Studies, with support from Asahi Shimbun) on June 4th, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa announced plans to equip the SDF with robots for use against nuclear accidents as part of its international relief capability.

In response to the accident at Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant, US-made remote-controlled drones were used to take radiation readings from inside the nuclear reactors. Prepared for a deterioration of the situation at the power plant, the US Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) also brought robots with them.

If the Ministry of Defense decides to go ahead with the acquisition of it own drones, it will consider putting them to use in international relief missions. Kitazawa said, “We must make use of the military’s year-round training in combating unforeseeable disasters.” The Ministry has already begun considering including the procurement as part of the 2nd Supplementary Budget.

SDF medical officers and members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are still working on a plan to resolve the nuclear incident and help those people who were forced to evacuate. The aim is to share the experience learned from the current crisis with the international community.

For more on Japan’s neglect of robots for national security purposes, check out the guest post submitted by Gavan Gray last week: The Skin and Bones of J.Robot.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch