• Defense & Security

Japan Likely to Allow Export of U.S.-Licensed Defense Equipment

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo

The government and the ruling parties are making arrangements to allow defense equipment manufactured in Japan under licensed production arrangements with U.S. companies to be exported to the United States, as well as to other countries through the United States, according to sources within the government and ruling parties.

Exports will need to meet certain conditions, and countries and regions where fighting is taking place, such as Ukraine, will most likely be excluded as export destinations.

Major equipment manufactured in Japan under licensed production, in which patent fees are paid to U.S. companies, includes the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) surface-to-air guided missile interceptors used by the Air Self-Defense Force.

In a working group of the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito which is considering the easing of defense equipment export restrictions, there is a general consensus that U.S.-licensed products should be allowed to be exported to the United States. The focus of discussions has been on whether to allow such products to be further exported to other countries through the United States.

While Komeito is wary of drastically easing the restrictions, it is inclined to allow exports from the United States to third countries both out of respect for the alliance with the United States and in view of its potential contribution to Japan’s security.

As a safety measure, the working group is considering clearly stating in the Implementation Guidelines for the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology that such equipment cannot be transferred to countries and regions where fighting is taking place.

The government and the ruling parties want to avoid the provision of such licensed equipment to countries directly engaging in conflicts, such as Ukraine in its ongoing fight against Russian aggression, and Israel which is launching attacks against Gaza.

The government and the ruling parties will further consider appropriate mechanisms for Japan’s involvement in the exports of such equipment from the United States to other countries, including ways of reporting and providing consent.