Japan's ruling parties agree to relax rules to export next-gen fighter jets

Japan’s ruling parties Friday reached an agreement to relax strict defense export policy to allow foreign sales of next-generation fighter jets only to those countries that have “defense deals” with Tokyo.

Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito agreed to “tweak the rules under some conditions,” public broadcaster NHK reported.

Under the agreement, “each individual export and those to a third country will require Cabinet approval,” it said, adding that such defense exports will be “limited to the next-generation fighter.”

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida-led Cabinet is expected to grant the green signal to the proposal later this month as Tokyo is set to jointly develop next-gen fighter jets with the UK and Italy.

The sales can only be made to countries not involved in active conflicts.

Tokyo has signed defense pacts with at least 15 countries including Australia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, the US, and Vietnam.

Later this month, Japan, Italy, and the UK are expected to begin detailed discussions on developing the fighter jet by 2035.

The trio made an announcement about the project in late 2022, which is the first such joint defense equipment development deal by Tokyo.

Japan’s war-renouncing Constitution restricts it to exporting defense equipment but Tokyo has been opening up under certain conditions since 2014 when it removed its arms embargo policy.

Source: AA

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