The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) will introduce Type 20 (ni-maru-shiki-shoju) 5.56×45 mm assault rifles, produced by Howa Machinery, from fiscal year (FY) 2024. A recent report from Janes has revealed that the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) said that the ministry allocated JPY3.3 billion (USD23.3 million) in the 2023 defence budget to acquire 8,577 Type 20 assult rifles as a successor to the Type 89 assult rifles. The new assult rifles will be used for close combat operations by JGSDF personnel and are scheduled to be delivered in FY 2024 and 2025.
The first examples were purchased in 2019, and it is intended to eventually replace the Howa Type 89 in general service. On May 18 2020, the Ministry of Defense announced that the rifle would be designated as the Type 20. It was also announced that the Type 20 will first be issued to soldiers in the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (Suirikukid?dan). In the DSEI 2023 convention, Howa Deputy General Manager Kimura stated some foreign countries have inquired about possibly getting the Type 20 and the matter was referred to ATLA and Howa representatives.
The Type 20 is said to possess better environment durability, fire power and extensibility over the Type 89. This is needed as water-resistance is essential for amphibious operations in the southwestern islands of Japan. The rifle weighs 3.5 kg and has a total length between 780 mm to 850 mm depending on the extension of the stock. The barrel length is 330 mm. The Type 20 was made to be ambidextrous for the user to fire via left or right shoulder. It is also made to resistant to corrosion from exposure to seawater. The rifle is compatible with an underbarrel bayonet, and, according to a Ministry of Defense press conference, the rifle can be used with the Beretta GLX-160 grenade launcher.
The magazine is also believed to be NATO STANAG compatible. The rifle features a telescoping stock, vertical forward grip, an ambidextrous safety selector, and operates via short-stroke piston. Compared to its original design, the current design of the Type 20 retains much of the same characteristics with only some notable changes. The barrel length has been shortened slightly and the hand guard has been redesigned to feature an M-LOK rail design. The side rails have been extended, foldable iron sights were added and the stock features a shoulder pad similar to the one seen on the HK416.