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Japan gearing up for first military export deal in decades – report

Published time: July 06, 2014 13:08
Edited time: July 09, 2014 10:36
Patriot Advanced Capability-2 anti-missile launcher (Reuters/Richard Chung)

Patriot Advanced Capability-2 anti-missile launcher (Reuters/Richard Chung)

Tokyo is likely to approve its first military export deal in decades, Nikkei business daily reported. Japanese-made sensors will be installed on American PAC-2 missile defense systems, to be further re-exported to Qatar.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries produces high-performance, infrared seeker-tracker sensors, the key component of missiles in the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) air defense system, under license from US arms manufacturer Raytheon. Japan has been making the sensors for its own defense force.

Japan’s government in April relaxed its arms export rules, enabling exports of military technology for the first time since 1967. Now such deals are fully legal and only require government approval.

Raytheon’s problem is that its production capacities are already engaged in making updated sensors for the next-generation Pac-3 missile interceptor system. To satisfy the Qatari order, Raytheon opted to delegate the sensors production to Japan’s Mitsubishi, Nikkei reported.

Patriot Advanced Capability-2 anti-missile launchers (Reuters / Richard Chung)

Though international agreements prohibit the export of military technologies to countries engaged in military conflicts, Tokyo and Washington might have come to the conclusion that delivering PAC-2 complexes to Qatar would not affect any other country.

Yet there have been reports that Qatar, an American ally and home to the US Al-Udeid Air Base, has been actively participating in a number of conflicts in recent years, such as ousting Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 and the ongoing civil war in Syria.

After decades of taking a pacifist stance, fixed in Japan’s post-WWII constitution, and an absolute ban on the trade of defense equipment and technologies, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expanding the country’s defense industry, enabling its participation in international weapons development programs and easing rules of military exports products to ensure industrial growth.

The three new principles of military technology export from Japan are internationally recognized and will include the transparency of arms deals, securely screening to prevent possible transfer of Japanese equipment to third parties and no weapons exports to countries involved in conflicts and regimes under UN resolutions, PM Shinzo Abe’s government assured in April.

The arms trade will also be accompanied by annual reports and full disclosure of information on all deals.