Japan Plans Export of Patriot Missiles to U.S., ahead of Change to Arms Transfer Rules

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Prime Minister’s Office

The government is making final arrangements to ship domestically made Patriot missiles to the United States, in line with planned revisions to its three principles on defense equipment transfers and guidelines for implementing the principles.

The missiles are to be the first arms exported under the revisions, expected Friday. They are intended to help ease shortages in the United States as it supports Ukraine, and also help U.S. forces continue to act as a deterrent in the Indo-Pacific region.

The missiles to be sent are the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) units — which are used by the Self-Defense Forces to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles — and older PAC-2 units. Both models are made in Japan by a Japanese company that pays patent fees to the U.S. companies that developed them.

Friday’s revisions will significantly loosen regulations on such licensed products, allowing not only exports of components but also finished products. The government is hurrying to ready missiles for export after the revisions.

A draft revision of the implementation guidelines obtained Tuesday says a patent-holding country can transfer licensed products made in Japan to a third country, but not “to countries considered to be at war,” in principle.

In line with this rule, Tokyo will ask Washington to ensure the exported missiles are not to be transferred to Ukraine via the United States.