Japan Set to Send Gunpowder to U.S. to Bolster Production of Artillery Shells for Ukraine

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno speaks at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on Thursday.

Japan is poised to supply a raw material used to manufacture artillery shells to the United States, which is sending ammunition to Ukraine, according to Japanese government sources.

Amid the prolonged Ukraine-Russia conflict, the United States has a shortage of gunpowder, which makes it difficult to manufacture artillery shells.

In response to a request from Washington, Tokyo discussed ways to address this issue and concluded that a domestic manufacturer would be able to provide gunpowder.

Ukraine relies mainly on the United States for the supply of vital ammunition such as 155 mm artillery shells.

By supplying the United States with gunpowder, Japan will be able to indirectly support the Ukrainian military in its fight against Russian aggression.

The government’s Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology severely restrict the export of defense equipment. However, gunpowder, which is also widely used for civilian purposes, is exempt from the restrictions.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry is expected to examine and approve the export of the material based on the Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law.

According to the government sources, the United States has also asked Japan to provide 155 mm artillery shells.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Japan is in talks to provide shells to the United States to bolster supplies for Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia.

However, many in the Japanese government are wary of exporting ammunition because the operational guidelines of the three principles do not permit ammunition exports.

“The government needs to ensure that the transfer of defense equipment is carried out appropriately in accordance with the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology and the operational guidelines,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Thursday.