FDE Howa Type 20 Showcased
The exhibit at Camp Tsuchiura was only open to SDF service members and their families, although the following displays were allowed to be shared on social media.
Twitter users brought up loads of questions regarding the FDE Howa 20. Would this version of the rifle see use in Japan’s peacekeeping deployments in Africa and the Middle East going forward? Perhaps for use by specific units or other service branches? Another Twitter user and Japanese service member questioned how long it would take for the Type 20 to reach his GSDF unit. These questions are largely rhetorical since there isn’t much in the way of public info provided on the issue structure of their new weapon.
In previous photos released by Japan’s defense ministry in 2020, we saw the Beretta manufactured GLX-160 make an appearance in its usual black color variant. A tan version of said UBGL was not present in these new pictures. Nor was the bayonet or optic on display in this particular instance.
The existence of an FDE Type 20 was pointed out by Twitter user @teppoblog who shared the above information, which was public, earlier in the year. An “open secret”.
You’ll notice that in the above photo that both rifles are configured to employ the use of bipods for shooting stability. Considering that Japan has been training with the integrated bipod system on its Type 89 for decades, it only makes sense that they would attempt to iterate this notion on their new service rifle. It seems that the MOD has taken a not so original approach at integrating a bipod accessory onto the Type 20 due to the longtime existence of the Grip Pod used on American service rifles since the mid-2000s.
Many users replying to the tweet were quick to point out and compare the visual similarities between the Type 20 and SCAR rifles. The two tone finish really drives that point home, if the physical characteristics didn’t already. The firearm sports a boot shaped stock similar to the SCAR. Not to mention other features such as the charging handle and shape of its other components. I personally do not blame Japan for its claimed lack of originality in regards to this design choice. It’s a safe bet, considering that they will likely be stuck with this thing for a very long time.
It seems that Japan is finally starting to enter the 21st century in terms of its own domestic firearms development (two decades in). However, it is unknown even today how long it will take for this service rifle to be widely issued. Japan spends very little on its military in comparison to other first world nations. This may come as a surprise to some, considering just how close they are in proximity to China and North Korea. Although Japan is slowly ramping up its commitment to self defense growth, budget cuts and global issues put pressure on the island country. The United States is still very much involved in Japan’s military affairs, as well as its defense.