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Japan boosts industrial participation efforts

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) is ramping up efforts to support defence industrial co-operation on major programmes with the aim to boost local capability. The effort reflects growing economic constraints – amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic – and a linked requirement to bolster self-reliance.

The MoD has told Janes that its industrial participation strategy will be channelled through projects to enable local firms to play a more expansive role in two channels of engagement involving imported defence equipment: manufacturing components and systems, and the provision of comprehensive maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) capability.

The MoD said other industrial priorities include the ongoing programme to locally assemble the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft and to strengthen the country’s network of defence-sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

A spokesperson from the MoD said that these efforts are a direct response to weaknesses in the Japanese defence industrial base and requirements outlined in the country’s 2019 defence policies – the long-term National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and associated five-year Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) – to strengthen the national defence industrial base.

Janes analysis: Japan on the global stage

Japan has been promoting defence exports since it lifted its self-imposed ban on such sales in 2014. Its biggest sale to date was announced in August 2020 and featured a USD103 million contract from the Philippines to transfer Mitsubishi Electric’s J/FPS-3 air defence radar.

In fiscal year 2021 Japan’s defence expenditure is JPY5.34 trillion (USD49 billion), a 0.5% increase over the 2020 allocation of JPY5.31 trillion. The 2021 budget is the ninth in a row in which the defence allocation has increased nominally.

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