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The Defense Ministry plans to use artificial intelligence for the management of public records, drawing lessons from the mishandling of daily Self-Defense Forces activity logs, according to officials.

Under the project, AI algorithms will “learn” the content of public records and ensure that every related document is found after the ministry receives information disclosure requests.

The ministry aims to start the AI-based system in fiscal 2021, the officials said.

It will be Japan’s first national agency to adopt AI-based record management, according to the ministry.

The ministry has sought ¥55.8 billion in related outlays under its budget request for fiscal 2019. The operation of the AI system will be outsourced to a private-sector company, the officials said.

The ministry currently uses about 60 separate business operation systems to manage public records, and document data are stored on multiple servers.

Following a request for documents from the Diet, the ministry needs to search every one of the computer systems. Sometimes records once deemed to be nonexistent come up in a renewed search.

Under the AI-based system, a keyword search will leave no single public document unscanned. To prepare for the introduction of the system, the ministry from fiscal 2019 plans to integrate some servers and speed up work to computerize records kept only in paper form.

When it needs to conceal personal information in response to information disclosure requests, the ministry is considering the use of AI to learn past examples of nondisclosure and decide automatically what to black out, according to the officials.

Given that an organizational cover-up at the ministry was suspected in scandals over SDF daily activity logs from deployments to Iraq and South Sudan, the introduction of the AI-based record management system needs to come with a reform-minded mentality among ministry personnel, analysts said.

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