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Japan and US to enhance joint defense production to support Ukraine’s defense needs

Amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Japan and the US plan to accelerate their complementary relationship in defense equipment production.
Patriot anti-aircraft missile system launchers
Patriot anti-aircraft missile system launchers. Credit: Bundeswehr/Jonas Weber
Japan and US to enhance joint defense production to support Ukraine’s defense needs

The governments of Japan and the US are preparing to agree on the “strengthening of the joint production system” for defense equipment during the scheduled summit in April, the Yomiuri media outlet reported.

The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has put pressure on the US production system, and Japan’s support for Ukraine is aimed at demonstrating the solidarity of the Japan-US alliance and “maintaining deterrence.” According to Yomiuri, this was revealed by multiple sources from both the Japanese and US governments.

The meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Kishida and US President Joe Biden in Washington on 10 April will focus on enhancing collaboration between the defense industries of Japan and the US. The US side is concerned about the potential shortage of ammunition and missiles due to the prolonged support for Ukraine. In December last year, Japan revised its Three Principles on the Transfer of Defense Equipment and its guidelines, allowing the export of Patriot missiles to the US to address the missile shortage.

Since Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a Japanese company, is the only foreign manufacturer of missiles for Patriot systems, exporting missiles to the US will increase the quantity that can be transferred to Ukraine.

Russia conducts daily air attacks on Ukraine, employing cruise and ballistic missiles, aerial bombs, and suicide drones. Ukraine relies on the Patriot system as its sole defense against Russian ballistic missiles.

Following the revision of the Three Principles and guidelines, which broadly permit the export of defense equipment parts, the focus is expected to be expanding the production of artillery spare parts. Components for howitzer guns, which are being consumed in large quantities in Ukraine, are being considered, and Japan and the US will expedite the identification of equipment to be targeted, including ammunition.

The Japanese and US governments are also considering the full-scale operation of a project in which Japanese companies regularly maintain and repair US military equipment, which will be a topic of discussion at the summit, as per Yomiuri.

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