Govt Seeks Deepened Security Cooperation with Revision of 3 Principles

Courtesy of Defense Ministry
An artist rendering of the next-generation fighter jets to be jointly developed between Japan, Britain and Italy

With Friday’s revision of the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology and their implementation guidelines, the government aims to create a framework to mutually provide defense equipment with the United States and other friendly countries to deepen security cooperation.

Meanwhile, the gap between the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner Komeito on the easing of restrictions of joint international development products exportation has not been resolved. This casts a shadow over the joint development of the next-generation fighter jet between Japan, Britain and Italy.

“We would like to contribute to protecting a free and open international order based on the rule of law,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized the revision of the three principles and the implementation guidelines when he spoke with reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday night.

The first export under the revised three principles is expected to be Patriot surface-to-air guided missiles after the United States requested them. The request was made because the United States continues to support Ukraine and the U.S. military has run out of stocks. In some respects, the easing of restrictions on defense equipment export was prompted by a sense of crisis. “The Japan-U.S. alliance could be undermined if Japan just sits and watches the U.S. military’s deterrent capabilities deteriorate due to the missile shortage,” a government official said.

Regarding the issue of jointly developed international products, the conclusion of which has been postponed, the government asked the LDP to end the discussions by the end of February next year. This deadline is reflective of next spring’s talks between Japan, Britain and Italy for jointly developing next-generation fighter jets.

The LDP will begin discussions with the Komeito in a joint working team from the beginning of the year with the aim of enabling Japan to export the produced fighter jets to third-party countries. However, Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told reporters on Friday: “We hope for a discussion of its nationwide relevance. There is no need to get caught up in the February timeline.” This is an attempt to apply the brakes on the LDP, which is aiming for an early conclusion, and the future of the discussions is uncertain.