The government has revised the Operational Guidelines of the "Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment," which includes the provision of "licensed production" defense equipment manufactured domestically by introducing technology from foreign companies to the country from which the license originates. In response to this, we also decided to export the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC3" to the United States, where it is licensed.

table of contents

  • The equipment that will be able to be exported by the amendment is

  • What is the significance of the amendment and what are the remaining issues?

  • Expanding export targets due to changes in the security environment

  • 1967 Three Principles on Arms Exports, etc.

  • 1983 Exceptional Measures

  • 2014 Three Principles for Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

  • 2023 Revised Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary: "Japan's Security: Contributing to Regional Peace and Stability"

  • Expert: "A vital tool in foreign and security policy"

  • Experts: "It could have a negative impact on the future"

Open Table of Contents

table of contents

table of contents

  • The equipment that will be able to be exported by the amendment is

  • What is the significance of the amendment and what are the remaining issues?

  • Expanding export targets due to changes in the security environment

  • 1967 Three Principles on Arms Exports, etc.

  • 1983 Exceptional Measures

  • 2014 Three Principles for Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

  • 2023 Revised Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary: "Japan's Security: Contributing to Regional Peace and Stability"

  • Expert: "A vital tool in foreign and security policy"

  • Experts: "It could have a negative impact on the future"

On the 22nd, the government held a ministerial meeting of the NSC = National Security Council on a rotating basis, and revised the operational guidelines of the "Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment," which stipulates the export rules for defense equipment.

According to the agreement, the export of equipment manufactured under license by introducing technology from foreign companies and manufacturing domestically to the United States will be allowed to be exported, including finished products, to the country from which the license originates, although only parts were previously allowed to the United States.

In response to this, we also decided to export the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC3" to the United States, which is the licensee.

Since the formulation of the Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment in 2014, this is the first time that we have exported finished products that correspond to weapons under the Self-Defense Forces Act.

In addition, with the prior consent of Japan, it is possible to export from the country of license to a third country, but "except when it is provided to a country where it is judged that fighting is actually taking place."

In addition, in addition to allowing the export of parts such as engines and wings of fighter jets to countries with which it has a security relationship, it will also be possible to export five types of equipment, such as "rescue" and "transportation," even if they are equipped with lethal weapons.

The equipment that will be able to be exported by the amendment is

Under this revision, if certain requirements are met, finished weapons and ammunition with lethal capabilities can also be exported.

Of these, "licensed production," in which technology is introduced from foreign companies and manufactured domestically, was previously said to be able to export parts to the United States, but it was decided that it could be exported to countries other than the United States, including finished products.

The Ministry of Defense is aware of eight countries that license sources: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, and Norway.

In addition, there are at least 8 items of equipment produced under license in the form of finished products and parts by FY4 of Reiwa, of which 79 items, or 4%, are licensed from the United States.

Specifically, there are "F32 fighters", "CH15 transport helicopters" and ground-based interceptor missiles "PAC47".

Outside the United States,
the "3 mm mortar" is in the United Kingdom, the "81 mm mortar" is in France, the "barrel" of the "Type 120 tank" is in
Germany
, the "90 mm rapid-fire gun" on the
escort ship is in Italy
. The "127.5 mm machine gun" is Belgium
, the "56 mm recoilless gun" is Sweden
, and the "84 mm multipurpose bullet" is Norway
.

These equipment can be exported upon request from the country of license.

In addition, with the prior consent of Japan, the country from which the license originates can export to a third country, but weapons and ammunition are excluded from countries where fighting is currently taking place unless there are special circumstances.

In addition to licensed production, we have made it possible for Japan to export parts directly to the countries to which partner countries have exported finished products for equipment developed and produced in collaboration with other countries.

Currently, Japan is jointly developing
two types of interceptor missiles for ballistic missiles, the SM20 Block A and the next-generation fighter, and Japan is planning to export parts for the next fighter
.

According to the Ministry of Defense, Japan is still coordinating which parts it will be responsible for, but it seems that the aim is for partner countries such as the United Kingdom and Italy to export next-generation fighter jets to third countries so that they can quickly replace parts that Japan is in charge of if a defect is found.

In addition, we have made it possible to export weapons and shell parts to countries that have a cooperative relationship with Japan in the field of security.

In the export of defense equipment, the degree of concern for Japan's security will be strictly examined and judged comprehensively.

What is the significance of the amendment and what are the remaining issues?

With this revision, it is possible to export finished products with lethal capabilities, which has not been allowed in practice until now, only for equipment of "licensed production", and it can be said that it is a shift.

On the other hand, there are some issues that could not be concluded in the working-level talks between the LDP and Komeito because there was a strong cautious opinion within the Komeito Party.

Regarding the export of jointly developed equipment to third countries, which is envisioned for the next generation of fighter jets to be developed with the United Kingdom and Italy, the government has asked for a conclusion by the end of February 2024.

In addition, no conclusion has been reached on the revision of the rules that limit exports to countries with which we have a cooperative relationship in terms of security to five categories, such as "rescue" and "transportation."

While these two revisions will contribute to the progress of joint development and strengthening cooperation with partner countries, they may also pave the way for the export of lethal equipment, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of the talks that will resume after the turn of the year.

Expanding export targets due to changes in the security environment

With regard to the export of equipment including weapons, Japan has expanded the scope of exports in accordance with changes in the security environment, while carefully dealing with the principle of avoiding the promotion of international conflicts as a peace-loving nation.

1967 Three Principles on Arms Exports, etc.

In 1967, the Sato Cabinet introduced the "Three Principles on Arms Exports," which stipulated that the export of arms to communist bloc countries and countries involved in conflicts would not be permitted.

In 1976, the Miki Cabinet decided to "refrain from exporting" even in areas that were not subject to the Three Principles, and effectively banned all exports.

1983 Exceptional Measures

However, in 1983, the Nakasone Cabinet decided to make an exception for the provision of weapons technology to the United States at the request of the United States.

Since then, exports have been allowed as an exceptional measure for each individual case, such as the joint development of interceptor missiles between Japan and the United States and the provision of ammunition to the military of other countries engaged in peacekeeping operations, and the number of exports has increased to 2013 in total in the 30 years up to 21.

2014 Three Principles for Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

The Abe Cabinet made a major change in the rules for equipment exports in 2014.

The "Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment" and the "Operational Guidelines" were newly decided, and exports would be judged under strict screening only if they contribute to peace, international cooperation, and Japan's security.

However, with the exception of those developed and produced jointly with other countries, the export of completed equipment was limited to those that fall under the category of "rescue," "transportation," "surveillance," "surveillance," and "minesweeping."

In fact, we have only exported one finished product so far, a warning and control radar for the Philippines, and we have never exported a finished product with lethal capabilities.

2023 Revised Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment

The revised Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment states that "the public and private sectors will work together to promote the overseas transfer of defense equipment."

Based on this policy, we have made it possible to export finished products to the country from which the license is licensed, which is "licensed production," in which technology is introduced from a foreign company and manufactured in Japan.

As a result, it will be possible to export finished products with lethal capabilities such as F15 fighters and artillery shells produced under license, and the government decided to export the finished product of the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC22" based on the request from the United States of the licensee on the 3nd.

According to Defense Ministry officials, the background of the U.S. request is believed to be the aim of making up for the shortage of interceptor missiles due to the support of Ukraine, which is being invaded by Russia.

Chief Cabinet Secretary: "Japan's Security: Contributing to Regional Peace and Stability"

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hayashi said at a press conference after the extraordinary Cabinet meeting, "We took into account the agreement of the ruling party's working team from the perspective that it is an important policy tool to promote the creation of a favorable security environment for Japan."

In addition, regarding the decision to export the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC3" to the United States, he said, "After careful consideration and rigorous examination, we confirmed that it can be approved, and it is of great significance from the perspective of strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance, and contributes to Japan's security and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region."

Expert: "A vital tool in foreign and security policy"

Commenting on the revision of the Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment and the Operational Guidelines, Professor Toshigo Sato of Takushoku University, who specializes in national security, said Japan, "It is natural that they will be reviewed in accordance with the demands of the times. It is extremely important to act as a piece in the international defense cooperation system, and it is an extremely important tool in Japan's foreign and security policy, so we should actively promote it."

Regarding "licensed production," in which technology is introduced from a foreign company and manufactured domestically, he said, "Since it is made in the other country, there is not much discomfort in exporting it to the other country It is extremely appropriate because we can expect a multi-layered external relationship in terms of Japan's security."

Regarding the decision to export the finished products of the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC3" produced under license to the United States, he said, "If you look at the war in Ukraine and the problems in Gaza, air defense capabilities play an extremely important role. It is expected that the global demand for air defense capabilities will increase, but if the United States alone cannot produce enough, it is a reasonable decision for Japan to manufacture them on behalf of American defense companies."

Experts: "It could have a negative impact on the future"

Commenting on the revision of the Three Principles for the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Equipment and the Operational Guidelines, Professor Hideki Uemura of Ryutsu Keizai University, who specializes in security, said, "Until now, Japan has been extremely cautious in arms exports under the banner of a peace-loving nation, but with this revision, the government has declared that it will become a country that exports weapons, which is a major change. The process of debating in the Diet and obtaining a national consensus is not carried out sufficiently, and the method of making a Cabinet decision when the Diet is closed may have a negative impact on the future."

Regarding "licensed production," in which technology is introduced from foreign companies and manufactured domestically, the decision to export finished products to the country from which the license is made "could be an opportunity for Japan's defense industry and defense policy to change little by little. It is questionable whether it is appropriate for Japan to be able to sell products that include lethal products."

On top of that, regarding the decision to export the finished products of the ground-based interceptor missile "PAC3" produced under license to the United States, he said, "It may be a leap to say, but it may lead to Japan Japan companies becoming weapons factories that support U.S. defense policy. Depending on how the U.S. approaches, it could ultimately lead to international conflicts and should be reconsidered."