Japan Seeks to Lift Arms Export Ban to Aid Ukraine
The Japanese government is considering lifting the ban on arms exports to strengthen its domestic defense industry and provide assistance to Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia. According to local news agency Kyodo News, citing sources close to the government, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called on the ruling party and coalition partner to expedite discussions on amendments to the law that would enable the export of Japanese weaponry to other countries.
The working group of the Liberal Democratic Party, which supports the government, initially planned to resume discussions on this matter in the fall, but now it is expected to be launched earlier. One of Japan's motivations for lifting the ban on arms exports is the desire to supply other countries with joint development fighter jets, created in collaboration with the United Kingdom and Italy.
Sources report that Japan aims to soften its strict "three principles" regarding defense equipment and technology transfer before potentially signing a trilateral agreement with the UK and Italy, expected by the end of this year, for the joint development of fighter jets by 2035. The agreement would entail the establishment of a coordinating body between Tokyo, London, and Rome, tasked with overseeing the project's progress, and is also expected to involve discussions on the export of developed jet aircraft.
Another reason for considering the possibility of arms export is to support the Ukrainian military in their resistance against Russian aggression. Compared to other countries providing military equipment to Ukraine, Japan's assistance has been in the form of supplying body armor and helmets.
Hirokazu Matsuno, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, emphasized that the government and ruling coalition will work together to create a conducive security environment for Japan and develop rules for supporting countries affected by military aggression, viewing arms export as an "essential political tool."
In June 2023, it was reported that Japan was in negotiations with the United States to supply artillery shells to aid the Ukrainian Armed Forces in their counteroffensive.
For now, Japan adheres to its "three principles" position, which prohibits the export of lethal weapons, except for items developed or produced jointly with other countries that can be transferred between them.