For over 50 years, Japan’s defence industry operated separately from the rest of the world. A self-imposed ban on arms exports meant that Japan’s defence companies could only work for the Japanese Ministry of Defence and, while Japanese firms often worked closely with some overseas partners in production of equipment under licence, in the main Japanese developed components and systems could not be sold outside Japan.
In 2014, this changed. The Japanese government produced a new document, entitled the Three Principles on Equipment and Technology Transfer, which has created a framework within which Japanese defence industry can begin to work with partner companies outside Japan. This has started to bring new opportunities for defence companies outside Japan to build productive new cooperative relationships.
In 2022 Japan published a new National Security Strategy, with supporting documents, that recognised changes in the geostrategic environment that will increasingly require Japan to work more closely with partner countries in developing defence capability. This is expected to lead to further revisions in export policy. At the same time, Japan also signed up to a collaborative development programme for the next generation fighter aircraft. This will lead to new partnerships.
Japan is culturally different from most other countries and creation of the critical initial relationships can be challenging, if the right advice is not sought and provided. At Cheltons Consulting we pride ourselves on many years of experience in Japan’s defence environment. We have the contacts and the insights to find the right way forward for both Japanese and non-Japanese defence companies alike who are seeking to prosper in this new environment.