Govt Lifts Ban on Exports of Licensed Defense Equipment; Paves Way for PAC-2 Provision to U.S.

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) surface-to-air missile interceptor unit

The government has lifted a ban on the export of licensed defense equipment, which is manufactured in Japan but requires patent fees to the foreign companies or countries that hold the patents.

The decision was included in the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology and their Implementation Guidelines, which were revised at a Cabinet meeting and a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday.

In the first application of the revised principles and guidelines, the government decided to export surface-to-air guided Patriot missiles currently in the possession of the Air Self-Defense Force to the United States. The missiles to be exported are likely to be primarily Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) surface-to-air missile interceptors.

The United States, which has been supporting Ukraine, is facing a serious missile shortage. The planned export of missiles from Japan to the United States is intended to help maintain U.S. military deterrence.

This is the first revision of the three principles since they were approved by the cabinet of then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in April 2014. Until now, exports of licensed products have been limited to parts and technology destined for the United States.

Exports of licensed defense equipment to third countries will also be allowed, but the guidelines stipulate that provision to countries where combat is deemed to be ongoing is prohibited.

The transfer to third countries of jointly developed products, such as the next generation of fighter jets under development by Japan, Britain and Italy was not included in the revised guidelines. A review of the five types of defense equipment, including “rescue,” which the guidelines already allow for export was also not included, as no consensus was reached on either topic during the ruling parties’ discussions on the matter.