Government and Liberal Democratic Party working to persuade Komeito; Next-generation Fighter Export Restrictions

Jiji Press
A mock-up of the next-generation fighter to be jointly developed by Japan, Britain and Italy is displayed in an exhibition in Chiba in March 2023.

The government and the Liberal Democratic Party have begun efforts to persuade Komeito, an LDP junior coalition partner, to agree on a plan for exporting the next-generation fighter jets which will be jointly developed by Japan, Britain and Italy, according to sources in the government and the LDP.

Their aim during policy discussions is to persuade Komeito to allow exports in the future.

LDP and Komeito working teams proposed the relaxing of restrictions on Japan’s export of defense equipment, the development of which was jointly agreed on with its partner countries in July last year.

But since the following November, Komeito became more cautious about policy changes, and discussions between the two parties have stagnated.

The governments of Japan, Britain and Italy are scheduled to begin full-fledged talks for the joint development of the next-generation fighters as early as March this year.

The government has asked the two ruling parties to conclude their discussions about the issue by the end of February.

If Japan will not allow the exportation of next-generation fighters to third-party countries, it may worsen the fighter’s cost performance in terms of development and production.

Some in the government and the LDP have pointed out that, if this happens, trust in the relationship between Japan and its partner countries may be damaged.

Government and LDP members aim to obtain a compromise with Komeito by limiting the relaxation of restrictions to just the next-generation fighters for now. This way, they would not need to rush a decision for a more broad relaxation of restrictions on exports of defense equipment.

Komeito is demanding that the government create a mechanism to curb the exportation of defense equipment to prevent its excessive expansion.

One option suggested by the government and the LDP was that exports of other internationally developed defense equipment could be decided on a case-by-case basis with individual exportation plans.