After World War 2 (1939-1945), Japan lost its military power and underwent a period of American occupation. After the Treaty of San Francisco, signed on April 28th, 1952, the nation reclaimed its identity and began establishment of its armed forces as the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF). In time, local industry began design, development and production of modern military hardware which was centered on doctrine pertaining to Soviet expansion in the region. As with most national powers of the time, Japan moved to adopt a local general purpose machine gun chambered for the established 7.62mm NATO cartridge. This became the Type 62 - or NTK-62 - by Sumitomo Heavy Industries which replaced aging stocks of American Brownnign M1919A4 0.30 caliber machine guns. Design work on the type began in 1954 to which the Type 62 arrived in 1962 (hence its designation) and has since served as the standard machine gun of Japanese forces, broadened into the Type 74 as a vehicle-mounted machine gun.
At its core, the Type 62 is a no-frills medium-class machine system though it is of quality construction and sound engineering. It is a basic belt-fed weapon, feeding from the left and ejecting spent casings from the right. The weapon relies on a gas-operated system which utilizes a cylinder mounted under the barrel to drive the action contained in the receiver. A tipping bolt is used to lock the breech. This allows only full-automatic fire and, due to the air-cooled nature of the gun, limits the operator to short, controlled bursts to avoid overheating the barrel. Barrel-changing is a requisite to avoid deformation or fractures in the barrel assembly and, thusly, the weapon is typically issued to a team of two. The second operator also assists in the feeding of the ammunition belts and to help clear jams. The barrel is finned to provide some baseline cooling while the action is rated for 650 rounds-per-minute.
The Type 62 features a weight of 23lbs with a length of 47 inches. Its barrel measures 21.5 inches long. The cartridge in question is the 7.62x51mm NATO-standard rifle-caliber cartridge seated in the M13 disintegrating link belt. Sighting is through a front and rear iron arrangement with the rear sight seated along the aft portion of the receiver and the forward sight near the midway point of the barrel. It should be noted that optics are optional and understandably increase accuracy. A hinged, folding bipod can be collapsed to facilitate transport and folded down to support the forward end of the weapon when firing. The pistol grip and trigger unit is found at the lower rear end of the receiver. A shoulder stock adds some ergonomic comfort and additional support at the shoulder. The barrel is capped by a slotted flash suppressor.
The Type 62 has been largely supplanted as a squad support weapon with the JGSDF by the M249. The M249 is produced under local license by Sumitomo and is a copy of the excellent Belgian FN Minimi. The Type 62 remains in used as a General Purpose Machine Gun, medium machine gun and vehicle machine gun. As a vehicle weapon, it is known as the Type 72 and features a lengthier, heavier barrel and actuation through a solenoid arrangement. It retains the same gas system of the Type 62. Rate-of-fire is increased to 700-1,000 rounds-per-minute though, interestingly, the weapon system is lighter than its squad-level sister. In the stationary support role, the weapon is fitted onto the American M2 tripod. The weapon has seen deployment with Japanese forces in the Iraq War though very little noted combat beyond that. It has not seen export.