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Japan to send Patriot missiles to US to boost global defense stocks

Breaking from its self-imposed constraints on military equipment exports, Japan aims to replenish US with vital missile supplies destined for Ukraine’s defense against Russian aerial attacks.
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Credit: Reynollds \ Zuma Press
Japan to send Patriot missiles to US to boost global defense stocks

Japan will provide Patriot missiles to the US, “bolstering global stocks,” WSJ reported on 22 December.

This is a significant step for Japan, which has had a self-imposed ban on weapons exports for decades as a legacy of its desire to stay out of global conflicts following World War II.

According to WSJ, Tokyo is set to transfer dozens of the interceptor missiles, which are used to shoot down ballistic missiles and other aerial threats, from its supplies, starting as early as the first quarter of 2024.

Japan to change rules, export Patriots to enable US to send more to Ukraine

Earlier, Ukraine called for air defense support from its allies as Russia began a fresh winter offensive against Ukrainian infrastructure using cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The missiles would help replenish US weapons sent to Ukraine to defend against Russian aerial attacks.

“The impact of Japan’s shipments will depend on how many missiles the US in turn provides to Ukraine,” WSJ reported.

A Japanese defense official said details around timing and quantity have yet to be finalized. Tokyo confirmed the transfers would not impact its self-defense capabilities against threats from North Korea or elsewhere.

The move signals Japan’s willingness to shed its postwar constraints on military exports to play a bigger security role. “This is a significant step for Japan, one that reinforces its commitment since the war began to support Ukraine’s defense,” said Christopher Johnstone of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Japan still bans the shipment of weapons to countries involved in a conflict, meaning it can’t send Patriot missiles directly to Ukraine,” WSJ reported.

According to WSJ, security analysts said Japan is “willing to find new ways to play a bigger role in international security.”

Recently, Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance said that Ukraine’s state budget received $952.4 million from Japan as part of World Bank projects. The funds will be used to reimburse the expenditures of Ukraine’s state budget in recovery and social assistance.

Japan’s financial assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale war has exceeded $3 billion. According to Ukrainian MP Yaroslav Zhelezniak, Japan has become the third-largest donor country after the United States and Canada.

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