Japan plans to get its biggest state-funded research and development agency involved in military research for the first time in a bid to lure more Japanese companies into the development of cutting-edge weapons technology, two sources said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to work with firms to harness technologies that have both military and commercial uses to spur industrial innovation, said the sources, who are helping devise the policy.
The idea would be for NEDO to identify promising technologies and then partner with companies on the research to see if it appealed to customers both at home and abroad, they added. NEDO's role would end at the research stage.
Using tax-funded R&D to push into so-called dual-use projects will add momentum to Abe's more muscular security agenda, which included a decision last year to end a decades-old ban on arms exports. It will also tie defense technology to Abe's wider economic goal of delivering a longer term renaissance for Japan after years of stagnation.