Gov't OKs Japan-made engine parts export for British Navy ship

The Japanese government has allowed the export of Japan-made engine parts adopted by Self-Defense Forces ships to the British Navy, saying it would not go against Japan's long-standing arms embargo as the components have been used by the private sector and are not necessarily treated as weapons, a government source said Sunday.

The precision parts manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. are used for a rotation axis for propellers in a gas turbine engine. A British Navy ship will adopt the components currently used by Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ships, the source said.

Kawasaki Heavy, a long-term technical cooperation partner of Britain's Rolls-Royce plc, has been manufacturing the engine parts in Japan under license from the British company.

Earlier this year, the British Royal Navy placed an order for the engine parts with Rolls-Royce to replace older ones, but Kawasaki Heavy was requested to produce them as the British manufacturer had terminated production of the components.

The Royal Navy asked the MSDF to study whether the export of the engine parts would contravene Japan's so-called "three principles" on arms exports introduced in 1967 and tightened into a virtual blanket ban in 1976.

Under the three principles, Japan prohibited weapons sales to communist states, countries subject to embargos under U.N. resolutions and nations involved in international conflicts.

As a result of discussions involving such bodies as Japan's trade and defense ministries, Tokyo decided to give the green light to shipment of the engine parts to Britain since the components had been used for an engine for power generation at privately run incinerator plants, according to the source.

Kawasaki Heavy will soon ship the engine parts to Rolls-Royce to provide the components to the navy ship, the source said.

The Japanese manufacturer declined to comment on details of the planned parts export to Britain, citing a nondisclosure agreement with Rolls-Royce.

In a similar case, the Japanese government allowed the export of MSDF aircraft propellers to the air force of Afghanistan via the U.S. government in 2011 on the grounds the propellers had been used by the private sector.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to overhaul by the end of this year the country's arms embargo policy to nurture the domestic defense industry and reduce costs to procure defense equipment.