Ministry adopts new strategy to promote int'l weapon development

The Japanese Defense Ministry adopted on Thursday a new defense industry development strategy calling for proactive participation by Japanese firms in international joint development of defense equipment including fighter aircraft.

The ministry in doing so revised the government's 44-year-old strategy that had given priority to domestic production of defense equipment.

"It's important for Japan to expand its technology base to prevent itself from being left lagging behind the rest of the world," Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said at the ministry's meeting to decide on the strategy, planned as a guideline for the coming decade.

The new strategy comes after the government switched to a defense equipment export promotion policy from an effective ban on weapons and related exports earlier this year.

"Defense equipment is a tool for contributing to global and regional peace and stability," the strategy says.

It cites the introduction of advanced foreign technologies and the reduction of development and production costs as advantages of the participation in the international joint development and production of defense equipment.

Regarding Japan's current participation in international joint production of the U.S. F-35 fighter, the strategy urges Japanese firms to expand logistic support including parts supply to set up an F-35 maintenance base in Japan for the Asia-Pacific region.

The strategy seeks to promote ministry cooperation with universities and other research institutes in exploring civilian technologies available for military equipment.