Cabinet Decision To Be Required Each Time Fighter Aircraft Exported; Kishida Shows Considerations to LDP Coalition Partner Komeito

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gives an answer at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Wednesday.

“Double cabinet approval” is being considered for exporting next-generation fighter aircraft to be jointly developed with Italy and Britain, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Wednesday.

Kishida said that cabinet approval would first be necessary to revise guidelines to enable exports of the aircraft to third countries, and then again for each specific case of exports to those countries. This two-layer structure, along with other export control measures, is believed to have been devised out of consideration for the Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partner Komeito, which is cautious about amending the guidelines.

Preparations are underway to revise the implementation guidelines for the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, which currently do not permit export of finished defense products jointly developed with other countries to third countries. And Komeito has been emphasizing the need for guarantees to ensure exports do not contribute to conflicts.

“A cabinet decision will be made when revising the implementation guidelines and also each time an export is to be made to a third country. I’m considering a more rigorous process of double cabinet approval,” said Kishida, answering questions from Makoto Nishida, a Komeito lawmaker. Kishida also said he wants to ensure that consultations between the ruling parties are held before export decisions are made.

Kishida also indicated his intention to only allow exports of jointly developed products associated with the next-generation fighter aircraft by this revision, while exports of other jointly developed products will be decided on a case-by-case basis. “Each project will be specified in the implementation guidelines,” he said.

The prime minister also made it clear that countries involved in conflicts are precluded as export destinations, saying, “We won’t transfer [export the products] to countries engaged in fighting as part of an armed conflict.” He said that exports will be limited to countries that have concluded agreements with Japan regarding the transfer of equipment and technology.

Komeito has evaluated the measures positively, and the LDP and Komeito are expected to reach an agreement in principle to allow exports as early as this week. The Cabinet plans to approve the revised guidelines by the end of this month.