Under the guise of “national security” again? Source: Japanese government may ban Chinese-made drones

Japan has also begun to play the same old game of “national security”. As part of a broader effort to strengthen national security, Japan may actually ban China from supplying drones to its government to protect sensitive information, Reuters said on 30 March, citing six sources with knowledge of the Japanese government and ruling party.

The sources said Japan’s main concerns center on information technology, supply chains, cybersecurity and intellectual property rights. However, Japan must balance such concerns (especially Beijing’s growing push for exporters to use sensitive technologies such as drones and security cameras) with its heavy economic dependence on China, the report said. In addition, Japan must navigate between China and its closest ally, the United States.

“China is a big market and important to Japan,” said one of the senior Japanese government officials, “On the other hand, there are concerns that advanced technology and information could be leaked to China and could be diverted for military use.

According to Reuters, Japan’s defense ministry has hundreds of drones, some of which are made by Chinese companies, and the Coast Guard has about 30, most of which are also from China. Both departments, however, have said that they have not used Chinese drones in security-related areas. In addition, other Japanese government agencies are also using Chinese-made drones.

According to the report, domestic drone manufacturers in Japan are expected to benefit from these changes, as it means that government departments are most likely to purchase drones in Japan.

Finally, Reuters also mentions that Japan has invested about 300 billion yen to diversify its (drone) supply chain, shifting production to Japan or more in Southeast Asia to reduce its dependence on China.

This is not the first time foreign countries have targeted Chinese-made drones for so-called “national security” reasons. in October 2019, Chinese drone maker DJI said that the US Department of the Interior had banned all drones made in China or using Chinese-made parts, unless for urgent purposes. In response, then-Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, “We hope the U.S. side will discard the outdated concepts of Cold War thinking and zero-sum game, stop generalizing the concept of national security, stop exaggerating the “China threat theory” and stop its unwarranted suppression of Chinese enterprises. We hope that the U.S. side will provide a fair, impartial and non-discriminatory environment for the normal business activities of Chinese enterprises in the United States. At the same time, we always encourage Chinese enterprises to conduct cooperation with foreign countries on the basis of compliance with international rules and local laws and regulations.