LDP, Komeito Agree to Reach Consensus on Export to Third Countries of Next-Generation Fighter Jet ‘As Soon As Possible’

Courtesy of Defense Ministry
A rendering of the next-generation fighter jet being developed by Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy

The Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito confirmed on Wednesday their intention to reach an agreement as soon as possible on whether to allow export to third countries of the next-generation fighter jet being developed by Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy.

On Wednesday, Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council Chairperson Kisaburo Tokai and Komeito Policy Research Council Chair Yosuke Takagi held their second round of discussion on the matter in the Diet. They also agreed on working out conditions, such as a curb on exports of defense equipment to third countries.

After the talks, Tokai told reporters, “Both sides’ positions have become much closer now.” Takagi said: “It is true that the distance between the two sides have closed considerably. We have yet to reach agreement on some points, but we hope to do so as soon as possible.”

Talks among the three countries over the development of the fighter jet will go into full swing from March onward. Because of this, the government had requested the ruling parties to reach a consensus on the matter by the end of February, but is carrying over to March as Komeito requested for further discussions.

Komeito remains wary as it believes the government’s explanation as to why the relaxation of export restrictions is necessary for Japan’s security is inadequate. There is also a deep-seated sense of caution within the party that approving the export of the jet to third countries may pave the way for export of all defense equipment under joint international development. For this reason, the LDP is expected to limit the scope of defense exports in this instance to the fighter jet to reflect the wishes of Komeito as much as possible.

In response to the LDP’s proposal, there is growing sentiment within Komeito to approve the export: “As long as explanations are thoroughly provided, we will not obstinately oppose the plan,” a senior Komeito member said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Takagi told Tokai, “We want an explanation from Prime Minister Kishida at the House of Councillors Budget Committee meeting [expected to be held in March]. “We would like to continue our efforts to give explanations to the public in an easy-to-understand manner,” Tokai told reporters.