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US, Japan to sign new defence R&D pact

The United States and Japan are about to sign a new defence research and development (R&D) agreement to address emerging military threats, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

In comments at an online US-Japan security committee meeting on 6 January, Blinken indicated that the R&D accord, which could be signed in the next few days, will feature joint projects related to hypersonic missiles and defence-space capabilities.

He said the agreement will “make it easier for our scientists, for our engineers, and programme managers to collaborate on emerging defence-related issues – from countering hypersonic threats to advancing space-based capabilities”.

“When Japanese and American researchers bring their complementary strengths to bear, we can out-compete and out-innovate anyone,” he said.

He added that Japan and the US were also updating their host nation support (HNS) programme through which the Northeast Asian country hosts US military forces.

The new five-year deal is expected to feature a near 5% increase in Japanese contributions towards the programme. In 2021 Japan contributed JPY201.7 billion (USD1.74 billion) towards HNS but from 2022 this will rise to about JPY211 billion per year.

In highlighting Japan and the US' deepening defence alliance, Blinkin said the partnership needed to address new challenges. He cited China and Russia, which he said “continue to violate international norms – on land, at sea, in space, in cyberspace”.

The US is Japan's closest defence-technology partner. The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo has told Janes that since the early 1990s the two countries have undertaken more than 20 defence research projects.

At present, these include projects to research technologies related to high-temperature cases, next-generation amphibious capabilities, modular hybrid electric vehicles, chemical agent detector kits, and jet fuel and noise exposures.

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