Japan Explores Military Metaverse for Defense Advancements Amid Shifting Geopolitical Landscape
Japan is intensifying its pursuit of cutting-edge defense technology in response to the complex geopolitical environment, and a military metaverse is emerging as a potentially potent tool for bolstering its armed forces against potential adversaries.
In a notable step, the Japanese government released the Defense Technology Guidelines 2023 in June, emphasizing the need to adapt to evolving technologies in modern warfare. This directive identified 12 key priorities for around 200 selected companies participating in the nation’s defense tech initiative. Notably, these priorities encompass concepts like “visualization of invisible things” and “capabilities that make virtual/imaginary information as real things.” Discussions are anticipated in upcoming meetings with participating firms to explore the creation of a metaverse aimed at deceiving opponents.
A Multifaceted Tool for Military Preparedness:
Braden R. Allenby, President’s Professor at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment in Civil Engineering, highlighted the intrinsic linkage between unconventional technologies and militarization, suggesting that generating misleading “realities” can be a highly effective approach to counter adversaries’ attacks. This concept aligns with the idea that manipulating perceptions can serve as a strategic defense mechanism, as seen in the context of weaponized narrative, which exploits confusion and social divisions to undermine enemies.
Potential Applications and Implications:
A military metaverse has diverse potential applications, as noted by defense analysts. These include advanced troop training through high-tech education, immersive recruitment techniques, and enhancing interoperability within defense and security circles. By leveraging this concept, Japan could incorporate subversion tactics into the virtual realm to redirect outcomes in adversaries’ decision-making processes. Such an approach could not only safeguard Japanese troops but also civilians.
Deception and Innovation in Warfare:
Deception has long been an intrinsic element of military strategy. The concept of infusing this art of deception into a defense metaverse is deemed a legitimate military tactic capable of diverting attacks and nullifying threats. This approach involves the creation of misleading environments that can confuse and misdirect opponents.
Insights from History and Modern Research:
Historical instances, such as Operation Fortitude during World War II, where Allied forces employed deceptive tactics to mislead Nazi Germany, underscore the efficacy of manipulation in warfare. Contemporary research in security and virtual reality has explored the potential to exploit immersive environments to control users without their awareness—a phenomenon termed as the “Human Joystick Attack.”
Challenges and Considerations:
Despite the promise of a military metaverse, challenges remain. While virtual and augmented reality applications exist, the journey to establish a metaverse, particularly in defense contexts, is rife with hurdles. Alongside the creation of a defense metaverse, Japan is also focusing on enhancing drone technology, satellite communications analysis, and cyberdefense training.
Driven by Evolving Warfare Paradigms:
Lessons drawn from events like the Russian war in Ukraine have shaped Japan’s strategic focus on specific areas of defense technology. The changing character of warfare, characterized by manifestations like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and cyber warfare, compels Japan to adapt to a shifting landscape.
Regional Dynamics and Technological Advancements:
The rising digital capabilities of China’s People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) play a role in Japan’s defense tech endeavors. As Beijing continues to integrate smart technologies for modernization, Japan seeks to match or outmatch the PLASSF to maintain regional equilibrium.
Japan’s Defense Budget and Research Investments:
Japan’s fiscal 2023 defense budget, amounting to 6.8 trillion yen (approximately $46.6 billion), includes a notable allocation of 3.3% for research and development investments in advanced technology. This allocation reflects a commitment to fostering technological progress in defense.
In summary, Japan’s exploration of a military metaverse reflects its strategic imperative to innovate and adapt in the face of evolving defense landscapes. By considering the potential of a metaverse, Japan aims to harness the power of perception manipulation to enhance its military preparedness. This innovative approach aligns with emerging trends in modern conflict, where technology and strategic communication converge to reshape traditional paradigms of warfare.