Defense Aid Division Launched to Assist Indo-Pacific Countries

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, and economic security minister Sanae Takaichi, attend a Cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo on July 7.

The Foreign Ministry has launched a division to promote official security assistance (OSA), a framework to provide defense equipment to the armed forces of like-minded countries for free.

The establishment of the new division is intended to strengthen the deterrence capabilities of like-minded countries in the Indo-Pacific region against the backdrop of China’s maritime expansion and military buildup.

“We will formulate meaningful projects, conduct appropriate follow-up [on the provision of assistance] and work to strengthen the strategic promotion of the OSA in light of its objectives,” Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a press conference when announcing the establishment of the division.

Part of the ministry’s Foreign Policy Bureau, the division has nine staff members and plans are to increase that number.

The government has set aside ¥2 billion in the budget for the current fiscal year for OSA expenses.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Fiji have been selected as the target countries to receive the OSA in the first year. The government intends to coordinate details about the assistance and reach agreements by the end of the year.

To enhance these countries’ vigilance and surveillance capabilities, the government is considering providing small security vessels, radars, radios and computers.

Unlike Japan’s official development assistance (ODA) program, which is limited to nonmilitary activities, the OSA framework is intended to directly support the militaries of developing countries that share values with Japan and to strengthen their security capabilities.

The operational guidelines limit the areas of support to activities such as the monitoring of territorial waters and airspace; rescue operations for humanitarian purposes; and international peace cooperation activities.

In order to avoid involvement in international conflicts, the guidelines also stipulate that assistance should be provided within the framework of the “Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.”

Based on these conditions, the division will decide on the target countries and the specific assistance to be provided. In cooperation with diplomatic missions abroad, it will also monitor whether the equipment provided is being used properly.

The ministry hopes to ensure transparency while confirming the effectiveness of the assistance.