Recent Developments

July 2014 Defence and Security

On 1 July, the Japanese Cabinet approved a new interpretation of the country’s right to exercise collective self defence. A copy of the new policy is here. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution says that Japan “renounce(s) war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes” and to that end will not maintain land, sea or air forces. However, as a sovereign nation under the UN Charter, Japan has the inherent right of both individual self defence and collective self defence. In 1954 the Self Defence Forces (SDF) were established. In 1972 the Japanese Cabinet decided that, to meet the intent of Article 9, Japan would not exercise its right of collective self defence. In recent years, however, particularly since Japan’s participation in international peacekeeping activities since the early 1990s, a rigid adherence to this interpretation has caused a number of difficulties, both in peacekeeping and in activities such as Ballistic Missile Defence which it has been developing alongside its US ally. The new interpretation authorises a number of limited circumstances where Japanese SDF can either operate with or defend the forces of partner countries operating in the same area. This change is expected to allow for substantial change to the US/Japan Defence Cooperation Guidelines, which are due for renewal in the autumn of 2014. At the same time, these changes have incurred substantial domestic opposition. During July, Japan signed agreements with two more countries to allow cooperative development of defence equipment. On 8 July, Japan and Australia signed a defence science and technology accord (full text here) and agreed that the first research project would be in Marine Hydrodynamics, which will set foundations for potential collaboration in future submarine projects. On 29 July, Japan and France signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will lead to closer defence cooperation, including the joint development of military equipment.

June 2014 Defence and Security

On 19 June, the Japanese Ministry of Defence issued a new defence production and technology base strategy, replacing the 1970 “Basic Policy on Development and Production of Defense Equipment.” The change replaces the previous focus on indigenous development, in which priority was placed on production by Japanese firms, operating in isolation from the international defence market by a de facto ban on arms exports; the new policy responds to the new Three Principles on Defence Equipment and Technology Transfer (see April 2014 entry for further explanation) by promoting greater reliance on commercial products and joint development and production with international partners as supplements to the traditional acquisition routes of domestic development, licensed production and import of systems for which other alternatives are infeasible. A translation of the new policy is here and a covering presentation is here. The strategy anticipates a new centralised acquisition bureaucracy to promote more efficient procurement, which is likely to be brought in next year.

April 2014 Defence and Security

On 1 April 2014, the Japanese government announced a substantial revision to the Three Principles on Arms Export, which is a radical change from the policy that has been in place since 1976. A copy of the new policy is here. In brief, Japan will allow exports to countries when it believes that such exports will either enhance peace and security in the region, or will enhance Japan's own security, particularly in international collaboration. Japan also requires export countries to obtain prior agreement before authorising export to third party countries.

This is the most significant change to Japan's arms export policy for over a generation and will significantly alter the dynamics for doing defence business in the country. Further advice can be provided on request.

December 2013 Defence and Security

The Japanese government passed a new Secrets Law before the end of the Diet session in December, and has authorised the creation of a new National Security Council. On 17 December, the cabinet approved both a National Security Strategy (full text here) and a revised defence policy, (text here), which has confirmed the creation of a Dynamic Defence Force, with emphasis on defence of Japan's south western islands, and moves to create new amphibious capability. Particularly noticeable are equipment plans which include amphibious assault vehicles and tilt rotor aircraft. There are also increases in ship and submarine numbers while numbers of tanks and heavy artillery are being halved. Most significant for UK companies is a commitment to change defence industry policy from a focus on national production to one which emphasises greater international collaboration. The details behind this new policy will be announced next year, and will be accompanied by a new arms export policy, which will enable partnerships between Japanese and overseas defence companies.

November 2013 Defence

Expectations are high for substantial changes in Japan’s defence posture next month. Japan is expected to create a new National Security Council and to publish its first National Security Strategy. A new defence strategy will be published in the National Defence Programme Guidelines, the first since 2010, and there will also be a new 5 year Mid Term Defence Plan for procurement. Expectations are also high for revision of the 3 Principles on Arms Exports, giving detail to the change of policy decided in December 2011. In addition to these expected changes, the Japan Times has also predicted that there will be changes to the country’s defence industrial strategy. (Full details at this link.) When combined with other announcements this year, the prospects for Japan’s defence companies to be allowed to rejoin the international defence market appear to be high.

October 2013 Defence

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the keynote address at a high-level bilateral conference on UK/Japan security cooperation in Tokyo on 30th September. The contents of his speech show a high level of political commitment to the bilateral relationship that will be reflected in support of the new collaboration plans. The text of his speech is here.

The UK-side keynote speech was given by HRH the Duke of York. Further details of the conference can be found here.

September 2013 Security

Tokyo was selected on 7 September to be the host city for the 2020 summer Olympic Games. Once the local rejoicing has subsided, organisers in Tokyo's Metropolitan Government and their partners will begin the serious work of preparation. With London's success in 2012, UK firms with relevant experience have a good chance of having their support accepted, particularly in the event management and security fields. Cheltons Consulting Ltd will be happy to advise ways in which British expertise and IOC experience can be leveraged.

August 2013 Defence

This article in the Japan Times gives a useful overview of Japan's defence industry and the prospects for change in the near future. Cheltons Consulting can provide further insight on request, particularly regarding prospects for partnership in the light of the recent UK/Japan government defence equipment cooperation framework.

Japan Times

July 2013 Defence and Industry

Following the success of the LDP and Komeito coalition in the Upper House election on 21 July, giving them control of both houses and the ability to pass legislation without opposition cooperation, the Japan Times has reported that the government is expected to push ahead with new legislation to allow Japanese industry to export arms. This will be the long expected development of the relaxation of Japan's 3 Principles on Arms Exports announced in December 2011. Whilst not yet officially announced, changes in the arms export regime can realistically be expected to be announced alongside the new National Defence Programme Guidelines in December 2013.

Japan Times

July 2013 Defence

An interim report on the new National Defence Programme Guidelines was published on 26 July 2013. Most media comment reflected on the moves towards greater amphibious capability and the potential to invest in pre-emptive strike capabilities. Equally striking is the commitment to strengthen intelligence capabilities and on the military use of space. There is also reference to the separate MOD Reform Commission which is likely to report at the same time and will make recommendations on defence ministry organisation including reform of the procurement structure.

Interim Report

July 2013 Defence

Japan has just published its Defence White Paper for 2013. The report focuses on regional threat perceptions, particularly from China and North Korea, and outlines some of the ongoing reviews in defence policy which are due to report this year, including acquisition reform. The three digest sections at the front of the document give a very useful and quick overview. The agreements with the UK this month on defence equipment cooperation and information security were too late to be included in this report.

Japan's Defence White Paper 2013

July 2013 Defence and Security

On 4 July 2013, the UK and Japan signed a Defence Cooperation Framework Agreement and an Information Security Agreement. The Foreign Secretary said "Japan is a key ally of the UK and we work closely together on many issues of global foreign and security policy. This is a groundbreaking agreement which will enable joint research, development and production of defence equipment. It will facilitate closer relationships between British and Japanese defence industries, support their endeavours to work collaboratively, and contribute to the already close security and defence cooperation between the UK and Japan, aimed at promoting global peace and stability." More details:

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