Japan Prime Minister Urges Discussions on Defense Equipment Exports

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday urged the Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner Komeito to accelerate their talks on easing Japan’s restrictions on the export of defense equipment.

Kishida met with former Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who chairs a working team of the ruling parties, among others at the Prime Minister’s Office. “I want the team to continue discussions,” Kishida said, suggesting the possibility of moving up the resumption of talks.

The team finalized an interim report on July 5 that presented talking points on the issue, but left the resumption of detailed discussions on each point until autumn or later.

Kishida is eager to review the current restrictions, believing that stronger cooperation with other countries is necessary in light of the worsening security environment.

The interim report said it is permissible to mount weapons on equipment exported from Japan if the items fall under the five categories specified as exportable under the government’s Implementation Guidelines for the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.

The guidelines limit exports of defense equipment to items related to the following areas of cooperation: rescue, transportation, vigilance, surveillance or minesweeping.

The report included the arguments of both the LDP, which advocates the elimination of the five categories, and Komeito, which wants only limited additions to the current guidelines. The team also postponed detailed discussions to autumn or later.

Under the circumstances, it is unclear if Komeito will accelerate the discussions as Kishida suggested.