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Fear of angering Trump prompted Japan about-face on U.S. drone purchase

The Japan Times

Japan overturned in 2020 its decision to cancel acquisition of U.S.-made reconnaissance drones due to their massive costs out of consideration to then-U.S. President Donald Trump, who was promoting American weapons exports, according to sources close to the matter. The government of then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had told Washington in the spring of 2020 that it would not purchase the Global Hawk drones, but reversed the decision in the summer after Tokyo scrapped in June that year its planned deployment of U.S.-developed land-based Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense systems, they said. The about-face was prompted by concerns that cancellation of the Global Hawk acquisition would "anger Mr. Trump, who has insisted on exporting U.S.-made weapons," according to a source familiar with the matter. The policy change reflected "excessive consideration for Mr. Trump," the source said.


Japan's defense budget for 2022 hits record for eighth year

The Japan Times

The Cabinet approved a defense budget Friday of ¥5.40 trillion ($47 billion) for fiscal 2022, setting a record high for the eighth consecutive year, to advance the development of new technologies in the face of China's growing military might and the North Korean nuclear threat. The draft budget, including outlays for hosting U.S. military bases, rose 1.1% from the current fiscal year ending in March as Japan ramps up its defense capabilities. The increase for a 10th year in a row is largely attributable to a sharp rise in research and development spending, for which the Defense Ministry has earmarked ¥291.1 billion, up ¥79.6 billion, or 37.6%, from a year earlier. The ministry will invest in advanced technologies, such as crewless planes that use artificial intelligence to fly in teams with next-generation fighter jets. "As the security environment surrounding Japan has been changing at an unprecedented speed and becoming increasingly severe, it is an urgent task for Japan to strengthen its necessary defense capabilities," Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said at a news conference.


Algorithms of war: The military plan for artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

At the outbreak of World War I, the French army was mobilised in the fashion of Napoleonic times. On horseback and equipped with swords, the cuirassiers wore bright tricolour uniforms topped with feathers--the same get-up as when they swept through Europe a hundred years earlier. Vast fields were filled with trenches, barbed wire, poison gas and machine gun fire--plunging the ill-equipped soldiers into a violent hellscape of industrial-scale slaughter. Only three decades after the first World War I bayonet charge across no man's land, the US was able to incinerate entire cities with a single (nuclear) bomb blast. And since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, our rulers' methods of war have been made yet more deadly and "efficient".


Japan to seek record defense budget topping ¥5.4 trillion

The Japan Times

The Defense Ministry will seek another record budget of over ¥5.4 trillion ($49 billion) for fiscal 2022, aiming to beef up its capabilities around remote southwestern islands to counter China's growing naval activities, government sources have said. The request would exceed the ministry's highest-ever ¥5.3 trillion initial budget for fiscal 2021, which started in April, and also reflects an increase in the cost to develop cutting-edge technologies, such as unmanned aircraft using artificial intelligence, the sources said Thursday. The defense budget could further expand, possibly topping 1% of Japan's gross domestic product, when it is finalized in December, as the request excludes outlays linked to hosting U.S. military bases. Japan's defense budget has long stayed at around 1% of its GDP, in light of the country's postwar pacifist Constitution and since the Cabinet decided in 1976 that the outlays should not exceed 1%. The last time the defense expenditure exceeded 1% was in fiscal 2010, when the GDP shrank sharply following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.


U.S. Marines use Japanese language during drill to improve ties with SDF

The Japan Times

NAHA – The U.S. Marine Corps have held a drill in Japan with orders given in Japanese for the first time, according to the troops, in a move aimed at enhancing their partnership with the Self-Defense Forces. Although it remains unclear whether the Marines will interact in Japanese during actual operations, use of the language in Marine training suggests Washington is attempting to engage Japan's Ground-Self Defense Force in new operations involving remote islands, according to an SDF source. In a Marine exercise on April 29 at an airfield on Ie Island in Okinawa Prefecture, a Marine is confirmed to have directed other members in Japanese to move a rocket and fire it while pointing at a spot on the map. The exercise was part of the Marines' new Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations, or EABO, in which troops practice securing a base for an attack on an island. "We would very much like to increase our partnership and interoperability," said Capt.


Japanese government set to shut China out of drone supply chain

The Japan Times

Japan may effectively shut off China from supplying drones to its government to protect sensitive information, according to six people in government and the ruling party familiar with the matter, as part of a broad effort to bolster national security. The primary concerns, those people said, centered on information technology, supply chains, cybersecurity and intellectual property -- worries that have been rising outside Japan as well. But Japan must balance such fears -- particularly Beijing's growing push to export sensitive technologies such as commercial drones and security cameras -- against deep economic dependence on China. It must also navigate increasingly choppy waters between China and Japan's closest ally, the United States, which is at odds with Beijing over many things, including technology. "China is a big market and it is important for Japan," one of the senior government officials said. "On the other hand, there are worries that advanced technologies and information could leak to China and could be diverted for military use."


Japan considered drone fighters under ex-defense chief Taro Kono

The Japan Times

The introduction of unmanned fighter jets has been considered to succeed the Air Self-Defense Force's aging F-2s, which are expected to start being retired within two decades, as part of efforts to reduce development costs, according to government officials. The proposal was made earlier this year by Taro Kono, who was defense chief until last month before he became administrative reform minister in new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said discussions in the Defense Ministry were, however, suspended in the wake of the government's decision in June to scrap its plan to deploy the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore land-based defense system, designed to counter missile threats from North Korea. Japan plans to start work on a new fighter jet in fiscal 2024 together with U.S. or British companies, and aims to introduce it in fiscal 2035 when the current F-2s are scheduled to start being retired. The ministry estimates that at least ¥1.2 trillion is needed to develop a manned fighter jet, while a drone -- which has no space for a pilot and requires no safety equipment -- costs much less to build.


Mining News Events from Comparable News Corpora: A Multi-Attribute Proximity Network Modeling Approach

arXiv.org Machine Learning

We present ProxiModel, a novel event mining framework for extracting high-quality structured event knowledge from large, redundant, and noisy news data sources. The proposed model differentiates itself from other approaches by modeling both the event correlation within each individual document as well as across the corpus. To facilitate this, we introduce the concept of a proximity-network, a novel space-efficient data structure to facilitate scalable event mining. This proximity network captures the corpus-level co-occurence statistics for candidate event descriptors, event attributes, as well as their connections. We probabilistically model the proximity network as a generative process with sparsity-inducing regularization. This allows us to efficiently and effectively extract high-quality and interpretable news events. Experiments on three different news corpora demonstrate that the proposed method is effective and robust at generating high-quality event descriptors and attributes. We briefly detail many interesting applications from our proposed framework such as news summarization, event tracking and multi-dimensional analysis on news. Finally, we explore a case study on visualizing the events for a Japan Tsunami news corpus and demonstrate ProxiModel's ability to automatically summarize emerging news events.


Why geopolitical superpowers are racing to perfect artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

A country's dexterity with artificial intelligence technology might be the next strong source of national pride and international power. Knowing it would lay the foundation for the future of medicine, IBM captured the world's imagination in 2011 with Watson, a supercomputer that not only won Jeopardy!, but beat trivia superstar Ken Jennings in the process. The novel cognitive computing technology was quickly adapted to "read" the thousands of medical research papers published weekly in order to diagnose cancer patients more accurately than human doctors seemingly could. It's a banner technology for IBM, a company that remains no slouch in its 105 years of operation Now five years after Watson's debut, Japanese researchers at Kyoto University and Fujitsu are collaborating to build their own computing technology that's fairly characterized as a response to Watson. Skipping the game shows and going straight to medical applications, the Japanese system aims to close the gap in understanding how our genes determine our health by accounting for a patient's genetic code in its computer-generated diagnoses.


Why geopolitical superpowers are racing to perfect artificial intelligence

#artificialintelligence

A country's dexterity with artificial intelligence technology might be the next strong source of national pride and international power. Knowing it would lay the foundation for the future of medicine, IBM captured the world's imagination in 2011 with Watson, a supercomputer that not only won Jeopardy!, but beat trivia superstar Ken Jennings in the process. The novel cognitive computing technology was quickly adapted to "read" the thousands of medical research papers published weekly in order to diagnose cancer patients more accurately than human doctors seemingly could. It's a banner technology for IBM, a company that remains no slouch in its 105 years of operation Now five years after Watson's debut, Japanese researchers at Kyoto University and Fujitsu are collaborating to build their own computing technology that's fairly characterized as a response to Watson. Skipping the game shows and going straight to medical applications, the Japanese system aims to close the gap in understanding how our genes determine our health by accounting for a patient's genetic code in its computer-generated diagnoses.