Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Japan should boost defense equipment exports in line with three principles

The Cambodia Herald - July 29, 2014
By The Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO (ANN) -- Encouraging cooperation in the development of defense equipment with the United States, European nations and other counties to enhance Japan’s security is a matter of great importance.

The government’s National Security Council has formally given the go-ahead to exporting to the United States components for the target detection and tracking systems of the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2), an older model of the PAC ground-to-air missile interceptor system.

The NSC has also granted permission for the onward export of finished missile defense products using those components from the United States to countries such as Qatar. The NSC’s decision came after it decided that the United States’ systems for governing weapons exports and other relevant arrangements should be considered adequate.

This is the first time the NSC has granted such permission on the basis of the three new principles on the transfer of defense equipment and technology, which were adopted through Cabinet approval in April. The new three-point rules stipulate that permission for defense equipment exports will be granted only after strict screening to determine whether the transfer meets specific requirements, including being consistent with Japan’s contribution to world peace and cooperation with the international community.


The production of these missile components has ceased in the United States, and as a result the United States sought for Japan to export them. The NSC decision is definitely beneficial both to Japan and the United States, and it can safely be said that the new three-point defense equipment and technology export principles played a significant role in making this sort of smooth defense equipment cooperation possible.

The NSC also endorsed a joint research project with Britain to combine a British-made missile system with Japanese target detection technology. The government envisions the product of the joint Japan-Britain research being mounted on the next-generation F-35 fighters, which will be the mainstay of the Air Self-Defense Force.

This is Japan’s second joint development project for defense equipment with Britain, following an agreement in July last year to work on a chemical protection suit. These projects must proceed smoothly toward realization of their goals.
Forging new partnerships

The NSC has disclosed an outline of its deliberation process concerning Patriot-2 component transfers to the United States. There is no question that government efforts to ensure the disclosure of information in such matters are indispensable to enhance transparency.

In recent years, such projects for the joint development and production of defense equipment have moved forward mainly between the United States and European nations. Japan’s participation in this type of project will certainly be conducive to maintaining and upgrading the country’s defense technology, and at the same time help to rein in development expenditures. This country should take advantage of as many opportunities as possible to be part of such joint development schemes.


The government is set to promote joint defense equipment development projects not with only the United States and Britain but with Australia as well. Japan and Australia have reached an agreement to jointly engage in research in the near future involving the hydrodynamics of sea vessels, centering around Japanese technologies for submarine construction. Japan and France are also considering joint development of defense equipment, including autonomous underwater vehicles.

At the same time, consultations are under way with India on the advisability of exporting the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s US-2 search-and-rescue amphibian planes to the country. Security cooperation between Japan and India is of key importance in ensuring the safety of key sea lanes for the transport of crude oil and other energy sources to this country. Efforts to export defense equipment from Japan to India should also be promoted.

However, it is crucial in these undertakings to scrutinize with utmost care which kinds of joint study and development projects can be considered beneficial for both Japan and its partner nations.The government must work in tandem with the private sector to strategically address the task of collecting and analyzing relevant intelligence.

The Defense Ministry is poised to create in fiscal 2015 a “defense equipment agency” in charge of tasks ranging from research and development of defense equipment to procurement of defense systems in an integrated manner. In establishing the planned agency, the ministry should place great import on ensuring a high cost-benefit efficiency in its operations.

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