COMING SOON: A JAPANESE DARPA, CALL IT DARPA-SAN…November 17, 2013
Ms. P.H. sent this to me, and I find it interesting on a number of levels, but the general tenor of the article is unmistakeable: Japan has decided to create its own version of DARPA, the Diabolically Apocalyptic Research Projects Agency. Call it "DARPA-san." And in a bit of ironic deja vu, the Minister heading this development just happens to be named Yamamoto. Now, of course, Yamamoto is a fairly common surname in Japan, but I still cannot get out of my mind certain fleet admirals wearing thee Order of the Carnation and named Isoroku Yamamoto when I read this article, nor is the image of the blitz he led during the first six months of World War Two in the Pacific entirely without some analog here.
But first, the article:
Now the analog:
I suspect what we are seeing here is a Japanese version of that very careful tightrope diplomacy we see Germany currently embarked upon. It is possible, for example, that this current push in Japan to create an out-of-the-box paradigm-changing technology agency like DAPRA is in response to hidden American pressure on Japan. After all, America needs powerful allies, especially now, and of all its allies, Japan is easily the most powerful, both economically, and in terms of its technological and military potential. And Japanese collaboration in creating the technologies of the future would be a welcome relief on America. But, within this possibility, there is another, deeper one, one perhaps indicative of that careful diplomatic game the island empire is now embarking upon. Years ago, during the Fukushima disaster, I was one of those who entertained the possibility that the entire disaster may not have been entirely natural. That it may have been, in part, a "shot across the bow" to warn Japan away from the course it was embarked upon. At that time, the Japanese had just held a significant election, one heralding a diminution in the power of the Liberal Democratic party that had ruled Japan - essentially as surrogates for Washington - since the end of the Second World War and the Japanese surrender. Shortly after being thrown out of power, it will be recalled, Japan made quiet overtures to Beijing; there was talk of a state visit of Emperor Akahito. It was transparently an effort to bury old wartime wounds - still festering - between Asia's two most powerful economies. Then, it will be recalled, the Japanese quietly but firmly let it be known that they would like the American base in Okinawa - long a thorn in US-Japanese relations - closed down. The base, essential to America's military posture in the western Pacific, was not about to be closed; and then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, responding to this request, basically issued to the Japanese government a statement that was little more than a direct threat.
Shortly thereafter, Fukushima happened, and Japanese researchers quickly called into question the official accounts of accidents and "acts of nature." For some, the political context surrounding the event was too suspicious.
So in that context I suggest we may be looking at two things: at one level, a Japanese response to American pressures, a response designed to integrate the defense posture of that nation more completely into the "Anglosphere." But at a deeper level, I suspect that the Japanese, like the Chinese, Russians, many in Europe, and the other BRICS nations, have concluded that the oligarchs of the West are dangerously out of control, and that the time is now to lay the foundations for a more direct competition later.
And true to form, the Japanese have decided that technology may constitute the area where they are able to compete most directly. Tokyo is about to become the industrial espionage capital of the world (if it isn't already).
See you on the flip side.