Talking Points Compiled on Easing Japan’s Defense Equipment Export Rules

The Liberal Democratic Party and its governing coalition partner Komeito on Wednesday finalized a document listing issues to be discussed toward easing the nation’s restrictions related to defense equipment exports.

Their document states clearly that it is “possible” to mount weapons on equipment exported from Japan if the items fall under the five categories specified as exportable under the government’s Implementation Guidelines for the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.

The implementation guidelines limit exports of defense equipment to items related to the following areas of cooperation: rescue, transportation, vigilance, surveillance or minesweeping.

In the LDP-Komeito document, it states that there was a “consensus” that vessels used for purposes such as surveillance or minesweeping need guns to deal with suspicious vessels or ordnance to clear sea mines, and that it is possible to mount such weapons for self-defense purposes on exported equipment.

A working group chaired by Itsunori Onodera, chairperson of the LDP Research Commission on Security, finalized the document, which was then submitted to LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Koichi Hagiuda and his Komeito counterpart, Yosuke Takagi.

The document is being positioned as an interim report for the working group, which will continue discussions. The coalition is expected to start detailed discussions on each issue from the autumn.

Regarding equipment developed jointly with other nations, the document states that the majority of the working group argued that “discussions should be directed toward making it possible” for Japan to export such items to third countries, which is currently prohibited.

As for reviewing the five categories of exportable items, the document states both parties’ differing opinions. In addition to the LDP’s position calling for the elimination of such categories, the document includes a call to “consider necessary categories after discussing operational aspects and purposes of use,” which is based on Komeito’s stance of only making limited additions such as “demining” to the existing categories.