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Defence and Security Consultancy

Specialists in Japan and East Asia

Working with Japan’s Defence Industry


Since 2012, Cheltons Consulting Ltd has helped a number of UK companies, including FTSE 100 companies, access appropriate parts of the Japanese market, predominantly in support of collaborative programmes. Smaller companies have also been helped cost effectively to identify market potential and find appropriate routes to market. Similarly, Cheltons Consulting Ltd has been helping a number of larger Japanese defence companies identify opportunities in the UK and Europe and move forward in establishing the necessary relationships.


We advise on strategy on how to understand emerging opportunities, and the culturally appropriate way to maximise success. We understand the landscape of Japanese defence, its similarities and differences from other international standards. We help companies navigate the most efficient path to achieving their objectives.


Maintaining good relationships is key to working with Japanese partners, whether the business is in Japan or overseas. We have the cultural insight of both Japanese and partner country culture and are able to minimise the cultural divide. We offer the opportunity to maintain business relationships at an affordable level while business plans mature.


We follow developments in the defence policy environment in both Japan and potential partner countries. We understand the background to policy development and can identify emerging opportunities, both for companies seeking to work in Japan and for Japanese companies seeking to expand overseas.


Based on unrivalled knowledge of the defence and defence industrial landscape we identify appropriate points of contact and facilitate introductions. We monitor and help the development of long term productive relationships, ensuring that all potential cultural missteps are avoided.

Our Background

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.